Ruth Frith

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Ruth Frith OAM (born Ruth Pursehouse, 23 August 1909 – 28 February 2014) was an Australian centenarian masters athlete. She was the oldest active athlete.[1] She is the current holder of the masters world record in numerous events including the W85 Triple Jump, W100 Shot Put, Discus, Hammer Throw, Weight Throw and Javelin Throw and was the oldest competitor to complete a Throws Pentathlon and thus holds the record in that event.[2] In younger age divisions, she held many more records that have been surpassed.

Her famous quote for longevity:

“Don’t eat vegetables, because I never eat vegetables. I know people that like diets that will scream at me, (but) don’t eat vegetables. I never have.”[3]

She was the mother of Australian Olympic jumper and pentathlete Helen Frith,[4][5] who under her married name of Searle is also a multiple masters world record holder.

Early life[edit]

Ruth Pursehouse was born in Goulburn, New South Wales. She attended Goulburn High School, a NSW selective school, and won the state title in the 100 yard dash at the Sydney Cricket Ground. She played field hockey as a girl. It was on a hockey trip to Dubbo that she met her future husband Ray Frith. They were married in 1936. She became active in sports administration as a young girl. An accomplished musician with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, she served as the student representative to the Sports Union for Athletics. After playing with the Gouldburn Hockey Club, she served on the team committee. Her husband's work as a civil engineer took them to Darwin where she was Secretary of the Darwin Golf Club. After 5 years in Lithgow, where Ray surveyed the athletics fields for Dubbo, Orange, Bathurst and Lithgow the couple lived in Sydney, where they were the power couple of athletics officiating. She was a leader with the Women’s Amateur Athletics Association of NSW serving as Country Secretary, Records Officer, State Executive, and Secretary of the Northern Suburbs Women’s club and Mid-west club. She also coached long jumping, in which her daughter excelled. She took up being an active athlete in 1982 at the age of 73.

She was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of service to athletics in the 1994 Australia Day Honours,[6] and in 2000 was a recipient of the Australian Sports Medal.[7]

She moved to Queensland to be with her daughter. Helen estimates she set as many as 25 world records in her career. Ruth was featured in the ABC documentary about and entitled the 100+ Club.[8]

She died in Brisbane aged 104.


  1. ^ Kim Stephens (18 October 2013). "Masters athlete Ruth Frith dies aged 104". Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  2. ^ "Records Outdoor Women". 28 May 2014. Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  3. ^ "Ruth Frith dies at 104; Australian grabbed global attention at WMG". Archived from the original on 4 June 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  4. ^ "Helen Frith Bio, Stats, and Results | Olympics at". 12 July 1939. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Ruth Frith". Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  6. ^ "FRITH, Ruth Pauline - Australian Sports Medal". Australian Government. 8 June 2000. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  7. ^ "FRITH, Ruth Pauline - Medal of the Order of Australia". Australian Government. 26 January 1994. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Vale Ruth Frith OAM 1909-2014". Retrieved 16 July 2014.