Joanna Quaas: The World’s Oldest Gymnast

Put down your phone and close your laptop. Walk to the center of your room and do a headstand. Hold it for five seconds, tumble forward onto your back, then stand up gracefully. If you’re like me, you never got past the first step. And I don’t know you personally, but I’d bet you’re not 90 […]

Put down your phone and close your laptop. Walk to the center of your room and do a headstand. Hold it for five seconds, tumble forward onto your back, then stand up gracefully. If you’re like me, you never got past the first step. And I don’t know you personally, but I’d bet you’re not 90 years old trying it out, either.

When it comes to German gymnast Johanna Quaas, doing headstands, cartwheels, splits and stunts are second nature when her iconic green leotard comes out. After all, she’s been doing gymnastics since the 1920s.

Born November 20, 1925, Quaas continues to be a regular competitor in amateur competitions in Saxony, Germany despite being 94 years old. In 2012, the Guinness Book of World Records declared Quaas the world’s oldest gymnast at the age of 86. She described herself as “shocked” when the world record was awarded, but added that she believes the organization found her “because I won the German Senior Citizen Championships 11 times.”

Go ahead and flex, Johanna!

A video surfaced of Quaas performing her routines in the floor exercise, parallel bars and balance beam just a few months before her 90th birthday. As of April 2020, her age-defying grace earned over 26 million views on YouTube.

Gymnast Johanna Quaas

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“My secret is a very well rounded, healthy diet,” Quaas said. “I make sure not to eat too much or too little, and I eat plenty of greens.”

Quaas learned gymnastics at a young age, but eventually fell away from competing after switching to handball, according to The Washington Post. (After World War II, East Germany promoted team sports opposed to individual ones. Quass even won the 1954 Eastern German Championship in handball.) Later in life, she began entering gymnastics competitions, and the Guinness World Record holder also apparently worked with gymnasts who competed in the 1964 Summer Olympics.

In 2015, the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame awarded Quass with the Nadia Comaneci Sportsmanship Award. She was honored that night alongside two former Olympic gold medalists.

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