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Claudia Pechstein, German speed skater, to become oldest female Winter Olympian

Speed skating: German championship

30 October 2021, Bavaria, Inzell: Speed skating German Championships, decision, 5000 metres women. Claudia Pechstein gives a thumbs up after the award ceremony. Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa (Photo by Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/picture alliance via Getty Images)

dpa/picture alliance via Getty I

German speed skater Claudia Pechstein will become the second person to compete in eight Winter Olympics, and the oldest woman ever to compete at the Winter Games at nearly 50 years old.

Pechstein, a nine-time Olympic medalist, qualified for the Beijing Olympics in the mass start over the weekend, according to the German speed skating federation.

Pechstein turns 50 on Feb. 22, two days after the Closing Ceremony. Her last individual World Cup podium came in December 2017.

She will break the record of oldest female Winter Olympian, held by Anne Abernathy, a U.S. Virgin Islands luger nicknamed “Grandma Luge” whose last Games as a competitor was in 2002, according to Abernathy did training runs at the 2006 Torino Games but did race in the medal competition.

Pechstein, already the lone woman to compete in seven Winter Olympics, will tie the overall Winter Games participation record held by Japanese ski jumper Noriaki Kasai.

As a teen, Pechstein skated in the East German system. She made her Olympic debut at the 1992 Albertville Games, the first since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Pechstein served a doping ban from 2009-11 over irregularities in her biological passport. She denied cheating and fought the ban in court for several years after its conclusion.

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