When people hear the word “athlete” they typically think of someone who is in good physical condition. They think of someone who is in the prime of their life with good physical health. And if you asked them the person’s age, they might say someone who is young and fit.
However history from around the world is filled with older athletes who performed well past what is typically considered as the prime of life. While their peers turn to hobbies like shuffleboard or canasta, they are honing their skills to take part in organized events like competitions, team sports, and even the Olympic Games.
Age Is Just a Number
For older athletes, age is truly just a number. Regardless if they take part in a professional sport, like the NFL or MLB, an organized competition like a local or regional event, or something on a global scale such as the Olympic Games, these people shine when compared to the younger competitors.
Older athletes are not only in better health than their peers, but they also serve as an inspiration to sports fans of all ages. Here are some older athletes and information about why they excel in their sport. While some are more recognizable, others are less well known despite their respectable showing as an athlete.
- Satchel Paige –
His skill as a pitcher in two major baseball leagues made Paige a legend on its own. He was also the oldest player in the league as well, at 59 years old in the last year that he was signed to play ball.
- Gordie Howe –
At 52 years old, this retired professional hockey player was the oldest ever to hit the ice. Many refer to him as the greatest hockey player of all time, and he is often referred to as Mr. Hockey due to his scoring prowess and career longevity.
- Brett Favre –
While George Blanda holds the record for oldest player in the NFL at age 48, perhaps more popular is Favre. “The Gunslinger”, as Favre is called by his fans, holds at least 10 individual records in professional American football.
- Butch Johnson –
This archer is only one of six Americans to compete in six separate Olympic Games. Despite the fact that he is sometimes as much as three decades older than the other archers in the competition, it did not stop him from competing in London in 2012.
- Diana Nyad –
While most people are making plans to collect social security at age 64, this spry woman had other plans. In September 2013, she became the first person to swim the 110 mile distance between Florida and Cuba without the benefit of a shark cage to protect from oceanic predators..
- Marjorie Templeton –
Hitting the gym for an hour each day for cardio, weights, and stretching might not sound like a big deal. But this lady keeps up the schedule at the age of 82! She also holds a black belt in tae kwon do, teaches martial arts, and uses vacation time to scuba dive.
- Bill Bell –
This 85-year-old triathlete has 32 Ironman distance competitions under his belt – all of which he entered after reaching age 59. He also finished two separate 3-day Kona Ultraman competitions while in his early 60’s. You have to admit, that is fairly impressive!
In every instance, the athletes listed here not only achieved their goals to excel in a sport, but they also did it despite being matched up to competitors that in some cases were less than half their ages. The next time you feel compelled to use age as an excuse not to do something, consider this list and reconsider.
The World’s Oldest Athletes
Perhaps most impressive is John Whittemore, who at participated in a track & field competition just six weeks before his 105th birthday, making him the oldest living competitor in organized sports. Depending on how long she continues competing, Australian Ruth Frith may outlast him as she turned 104 in August of 2013.
Track and field athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who competed in the women’s heptathlon and long jump well into her early 40’s, once said, “Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind.” And as you can see, that certainly holds true for the athletes discussed here.
Freelance writer Rick Mercado is a big sports fan. When he is not checking the latest news at sites like www.itisallaboutsports.com you can find him kayaking and hiking the areas around his home on Canada’s rugged eastern coastline. A big fan of Canadian history, Rick loves any opportunity to explore his homeland but dreams of someday seeing it by piloting a helicopter.