Marie Larsen turns 80 on Friday and has been certified by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's oldest female competitive hockey player in the world. Photo: Jamila Toderas
Marie Larsen has two daughters, six grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and as of last week, one world record.
Larsen, who turns 80 on Friday, has received confirmation the Guinness World Records had officially declared her the oldest female hockey player in the world.
Despite having a mild stroke the morning of the first match of this season, Larsen hasn’t given the game away, returning a month ago to her Tuggeranong Vikings in the ACT Women's State League 5 competition, where she plays alongside and against women and girls sometimes only a fifth of her age.
''Just don’t think about it, as long as you feel all right, you just keep going,'' she said of her secret to sporting longevity.
''I’ve been lucky that I haven’t had any serious injuries in my knees, or my hips ... so I’m pretty fit and just able to keep going.''
Larsen took a few months off after her stroke, but has been back playing for the Vikings team - which has won the minor premiership the last two seasons - for the past five weeks.
"I was determined to get back on [the field] so I could see the season out. I just didn’t know what else I was going to do," she said.
While she still has some numbness in her left hand and foot, Larsen registered a goal assist last week with a clever pass, and not even a cracked rib a few weeks ago after she ''took a tumble'' could keep her down.
''She’s a pretty tough old bird,'' coach Liz Hunter said with a laugh.
“She went A-over-T and came off [the ground], [but] she was back the next week.''
Hunter is easing Larsen back into the game, but said keeping her to 10- or 15-minute spells can be difficult.
''She’s quite happy to stay on the field - it’s hard to get her off at times. I’m not quite sure if she can’t hear me or she’s just ignoring me!
''[But] she’s an effective player, she’s not just there to make up the numbers.''
Larsen started playing hockey 65 years ago in her home town of Lismore and represented the ACT at national level after moving to Canberra in the 1960s.
She recently moved to Temora, but still commutes back on weekends for hockey games and umpiring duties when required.
''If I didn’t feel well, well, I wouldn’t go, but I just like to have the exercise,'' Larsen said.
''One of my granddaughters said, 'Gran, you’ll keep going 'til you’re 100'. I don’t think I’ll make that, but anyway.''
With each game her world record is extending, two years after she first laid claim to it after a moment of curiosity.
''I had my daughter look it up to see in the books, who was the oldest person … and found that she was 76,'' Larsen said. ''I was 78 at the time.
"I never thought at all [that I’d still be playing at 80], I just kept playing."