“Can Do Anything”: 77-Year-Old Gymnastics Icon Ventures into Equestrian Realm to Set a New World Record

Published 10/13/2023, 7:51 PM EDT

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The world of equestrian is welcoming to all enthusiasts passionate about the sport and the majestic creatures it involves. From a thrilling race of the equines to a standstill graceful execution on them, the sport calls upon people all over. While the youngsters persist and prevail in the popularized showcases and contentions, an equestrian vault performer from South Africa has a different story.

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The Guinness World Records recently added a newer member to its club after a senior equestrian performer reigned as a winner in the category. Maureen Fitzgerald, the vaulter, owns an interesting story leading to her massive achievement. When people say, ‘age is just a number’ Maureen has stood to prove the stance with her persistence and curiosity.

Maureen takes home the record title

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Mo, a name Maureen is often recognized by, was 77 years and 175 days old when she was officially recognized for the record. It was back in 2021 when Mo participated in the 2021 Gauteng Vaulting Championships. The equestrian earned a total score of 5.055 in the senior category which pushed her for a win. Following her feat, the Guinness World Record recognized Mo as the oldest equestrian vaulter.

“I strongly believe that you can do anything you put your mind to. You do not have to hang upside down on a horse – find what makes you happy and do that thing, no matter if you have never done it before or how old you are. ” The granny told the Guinness World Record.com. She also added, “You will achieve great joy from doing something new, it makes you feel young and alive.”

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The almost 80-year-old did not experience a straight road to the Book of Records. Prior to setting her foot into the equestrian sport, Mo was enthusiastic about much other matters. The latter remark carried by Mo stands true to her interesting journey through life.

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Mo’s inspirational journey to the equestrian sport

Maureen started her career and life as a gymnast; and more specifically as a ballet dancer. As a 22-year-old, Mo even participated in the 1966 World Games showcasing her strengthened skills at the sport. The event was just the beginning for Mo. Moving on to later years, she switched from the sport to Ballroom Dancing. The sport once again brought immense recognition for her at the South African Championships. Unfortunately, her initial involvement in gymnastics left her knees weak; forcing for yet another switch.

Her drive and enthusiasm led her to become an equestrian vaulter despite having no prior experience in the industry. Mo who proved to excel at sports tried her hand, and continued with the momentum as a vaulter. With her experience in gymnastics and ballet, Mo was quick to adjust to the transition. The 79-year-old now performs almost everything; from a shoulder stand to an arabesque and a scissor change to a forward roll dismount off her horse, reports guinnessworldrecords.com.

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“I still have very good balance and love horses… I am very strong still and started doing this as a way to keep fit.” Besides making it to the Guinness Records, Mo also climbed the ‘Wall of Fame’ at The Wanderers Club, Johannesburg. The enthusiast still continues to practice and achieve greater feats astonishing and inspiring the people around.

Watch this story: Precious Equestrian World Enchanted by Unique Bond Between Horse and Companion

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Written by:

Shivatmika Manvi

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Shivatmika Manvi is a US Sports writer at Essentially Sports. Having recently attained her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communication, Shivatmika aims to tread her way forward into journalism. Further, the writer’s eager enthusiasm toward the world of track and field stems from her family’s loyal viewership of the Olympics, and years later, her passion continues/stands.
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Edited by:

Suman Varandani

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