German skater, 49, breaks record for oldest woman Winter Olympian
Claudia Pechstein is a legend of women's speed skating Sebastien Bozon AFP

Claudia Pechstein became the oldest woman Winter Olympian in history on Saturday in Beijing when the decorated speed skater competed aged 49 years and 348 days.

'The German police officer also became the first woman to participate in eight Winter Olympics.

Pechstein, who has won five gold medals over an Olympic career stretching back to 1992, finished last in the women's 3000 meters and saw her Olympic record time beaten by winner Irene Schouten of the Netherlands.

"I was not too fast but I smiled (after crossing the finish line) because today I got my goal to race in my eighth Olympic Games, this was important for me," said Pechstein, who carried Germany's flag at Friday's opening ceremony in the Chinese capital.

"I am the only woman in the whole world to be at eight Olympic Winter Games. The result of today was not so important, it was just to race and to be here.

"I am super proud."

Pechstein, who will compete again at the Beijing Olympics in the Mass Start, added: "Yesterday a Dutch journalist asked me, '20 years ago you made your first Olympics?' I said 'no, no, it's been 30 years.'"

The previous record for oldest woman Winter Olympian went to Anne Abernathy, a luger from the US Virgin Islands, who was 48 years and 305 days at the 2002 Games.

© 2022 AFP