100-Year-Old WWII Veteran Lester Wright Is Set to Run at Penn Relays This Weekend

Published 04/27/2022, 9:00 AM EDT

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Every now and then we come across stories of people who provide a jolt of inspiration. Their narrative offers a kind of motivation and helps brighten up our day. And with the Penn Relays right around the corner, there will be an upswing of chronicles. Such is the story of WWII veteran Lester Wright.

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Lester is set to run the 75-and-over 100-meter dash at the upcoming Penn Relays. Currently, he competes for the Shore AC and has mastered the track at the club. He will make history by becoming the first centenarian from Shore AC to take part in the Penn Relays. Wright wants to mark his 100th birthday by competing in the race. Lester will turn 100 on Friday while the race is set to take place a day after.

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Additionally, the oldest competitor after Wright in the event is 92 years old.

It is customary for the crowd to give a standing ovation to the participants of the 75-and-over 100-meter dash. And Wright is likely to steal the spotlight when the public address announcer introduces the war veteran.

This is not Lester’s first time at the competition either. As a 77-year-old, he competed and won the 100-meter dash at the 1999 Penn Relays.

Former Asbury Park Press reporter Elliott Denman recalls the event as being “dramatic” because other competitors were leading the race. Wright was able to surpass them towards the end and win the race.

Reminiscing about the event, Wright says, “It was quite a thrill.”

The life of Lester Wright so far

Lester has had quite a life; he married his high school sweetheart, Adele on September 26, 1941; they have been married for more than 80 years. However, he joined WWII shortly after and rose to the rank of sergeant in the following three years. Subsequently, he earned four Bronze Battle Stars. But Wright had to return home in 1945 as a result of a serious illness. After making full recovery, he decided to pursue his career as a dental technician at the suggestion of Veterans Administration officials. Lester Wright, along with his wife, decided to open their dental laboratory after his graduation.

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They were the first African American to open a dental lab in Monmouth County that made prosthetic teeth. After putting in long hours at the lab, it was at his son’s suggestion that Lester took to running. Previously, he ran track during his school days. Wright even helped the shuttle hurdles team at Long Branch High set a new school record.

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Penn Relays 2022 will be big

The competition is returning after a halt of two years on account of the pandemic. Several Olympians including Allyson Felix and Sydney McLaughlin will compete at the 2022 Penn Relays.

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Some of the other prominent athlete at the event met includes Omar McLeod, Eagles’ Devon Allen, and Ajeé Wilson among others.

School representatives from as many as 33 states in the US and 5 other countries will compete at the three-day meet.

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Written by:

Aklanta Chetia

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Aklanta Chetia Wanniang is a US Sports author for EssentiallySports. He has a Master's degree in Literature from the University of Delhi. With an interest in learning about multiple sports, Aklanta himself is a former sportsperson and has participated in state and national level swimming events.
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Edited by:

Deepakshi Chaudhary

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