Inspired by the recent episode of Balls Deep celebrating Florida retirees, we scoured the globe to bring you the stories of super seniors; from a pole dancer, to a DJ, to a sushi supremo and everything in between. They may not be as famous as some – though we do love you David Attenborough and Dame Helen Mirren etc. – but they’re just as amazing.
Greta Pontarelli – Pole Dancer, 66
Sexagenarian Pontarelli took up the sport at 59, having already been an award-winning gymnast and martial artist (she performed with Chuck Norris’ stunt team) and a competitor on TV’s obstacle course challenge, American Ninja Warrior.
She’s currently the world's oldest international Pole Sport and Pole Art Champion and her moves are, well…. eye watering.
“I want to see how far my body will go,” she told PopSugar. “I want to see how far it can take me.”
Ruth Flowers a.k.a Mamy Rock– DJ, 80-Something
Though Flowers - better known as DJ, Mamy Rock - left this earth in 2014 to spin some wicked beats in Club Heaven, she leaves an indelible legacy.
The retired Bristol granny, coined ‘Gran-Master Flash’, travelled for six years around the globe mixing it up for hundreds of performances including at Glastonbury and the Karl Lagerfeld Chanel Party at The Cannes Film Festival.
“Now I know I can make everybody move their ass on the dance floor,” she once said.
“Indeed, I'd rather sign a contract with a record company than sign up to a nursing home!”
Hidekichi Miyazaki – The Sprinter, 106
Dubbed Japan’s ‘Golden Bolt’, Miyazaki, at 105 broke his own record for ‘Oldest Competitive Sprinter’ in the world last year, running the 100 metres in 42.22 seconds at the Kyoto Masters Athletics Autumn Competition.
That wasn’t quite good enough for the perfectionist centenarian from the Shizuoka prefecture southwest of Tokyo who took up sprinting in his 90s.
"Today my target was 35 seconds ... I shed tears of disappointment because I was not in good condition. I am not satisfied with today's time. But I am satisfied that I could cross [the] finish line," he said.
Hip Op-eration – Hip Hop Troupe, Ages 67-95
As its name suggests, many in this elderly hip hop crew have had hip operations, perfect then for a jaunt to the 2013 World Hip Hop Dance Championships in Las Vegas as chronicled in the 2014 doco heart warmer Hip Hop-eration.
“You’re all going, even if it’s in an urn!” manager Billie Jordan
tells the vibrant Kiwi group that included, at the time, such bad-asses as Maynie ‘Quicksilver’ Thompson, ‘Kara Bang-Bang’ Nelson and ‘Terri 2-cents’ Woolmore-Goodwin.
The Hip Op-eration crew, with an average age of 80 and several members overcoming disability to perform, was born out of a flash mob in Auckland in 2012. They’ve since appeared on the cover of The Wall Street Journal and have become an internet sensation.
Min Bahadur Sherchan – Adventurer, 84
Former Gurkha, Min Bahadur Sherchan of Nepal, became the oldest person to stand on the world’s highest peak on Mt Everest in 2008, aged 76.
His rival, another super senior, Japanese climber Yuichiro Miura held the record before him, then won it back in 2013, aged 80.
Sherchan wasn’t having any of that and after an aborted attempt last year due to the tragic earthquake in the region, he planned to climb Everest again this year to regain the title, despite a new ban on issuing permits to climbers over 75 years old.
What a man.
Bette Calman – Yoga Instructor, 90
‘Bend it Like Bette’ Calman, the great-grandma yogi, retired from instructing at 87 after almost 60 years of teaching, and is a pioneer of Australian yoga.
“My grandson admits it’s terrible that I am more flexible than him,” she once said.
SNAP! (as in arse-kicker, not breaking of bones)
Fun Facts: Calman shared an ashram with The Beatles; was a guest of Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion; smoked two packs of cigarettes a day pre-yoga; thinks retired AFL player Chris Judd has the best legs in the world; and loves “movies, chai and naughty jokes.”
What a lady.
Jiro Ono – Sushi Supremo, 90-something
Take one sushi supremo in his early nineties, one exclusive 10-seat restaurant and three Michelin stars and you have what Time.com calls “the greatest sushi restaurant in the world.”
Perhaps the most famous in this list of super seniors, Ono was immoratilsed in the 2011 doco Jiro Dreams of Sushi and his humble sushi bar Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo heralded by Anthony Bourdain.
You’ll pay a pretty Japanese yen for this exquisitely crafted dining experience honed from decades of Ono’s experience. An average mealtime of 20 minutes – you get what you’re given – will, at current exchange rates set you back about $AU370.
Emma Morano – World’s Oldest Person, 117
‘Nuff said really.
Morano, who hails from Verbania in Northern Italy and recently turned 117, has lived a life not without its challenges, as you might expect.
She left a violent husband in 1938, shortly after the death of her infant child at a time when divorce was socially unacceptable, and she has reportedly said that decision, and her singledom ever since, has been the key to her longevity.
That, and eating two raw eggs and one cooked one, “a little raw minced meat” and lots of cookies daily.
Join Thomas Morton as he explores the world of seniors on Balls Deep this Tuesday with a double-ep starting at 8:30pm on SBS VICELAND. You can catch previous Balls Deep episodes on SBS On Demand: