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Published On: Thu, Jun 9th, 2016

Five Famous Older Athletes

When you think of a famous athlete, all too often your mind pictures a youngster just starting their sporting career. Be it Olympians winning medals while still in puberty, or professional athletes receiving huge checks before graduating college, there are tons of examples of inspirational athletes that our kids can look up to.

But the truth is, there are amazing athletes of every age. We’re not just talking about the rare baseball player who manages to stay in the league through their forties — there are a number of inspirational sporting heroes who have continued breaking records into their fifties, sixties, seventies, and beyond. Let’s take a look at five of the greatest athletes to prove that age is truly just a number.

Hiroshi Hoketsu

Speaking of Olympians, there are a surprising number of men and women who have competed at the world’s foremost games well into their 60s and 70s. While some, such as Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, made their mark over 100 years ago, there’s one amazing older Olympian who is still competing: Hiroshi Hoketsu.

Currently 74 and still competing, Hiroshi has been representing Japan in equestrian events since his country hosted the Olympics in 1964 — over half a century ago! He’s still going strong, as he competed in the 2012 Olympics in London. Given that the Olympics return to Tokyo in 2020, it would be amazing to see him in his blazing saddle four years from now.

Hiroshi Hoketsu, the oldest competitor at the the London 2012 Summer Olympics photo/ The Rambling Man and Kim Ratcliffe of Think Equestrian via wikipedia

Hiroshi Hoketsu, the oldest competitor at the the London 2012 Summer Olympics photo/ The Rambling Man and Kim Ratcliffe of Think Equestrian via wikipedia

Martina Navratilova

While many seniors love a leisurely game of tennis, (doubles anyone?!) the professional circuit is usually reserved for those in their mid thirties and younger. But don’t tell that to Martina Navratilova, who continued to be a tennis phenom until the ripe old age of 50, at which point she had been a professional phenom on the court for more than 30 years.

Born in the Czech Republic before defecting to America, Navraltilova racked up more wins over her storied career than any other tennis player, male or female, ever. While she tried to retire once in the mid 1990s, the game kept calling her, and so she returned to rack up even more wins, moving from singles to doubles, and kept playing strong until 2006. She has stayed active even since finally retiring her racket, as she is now a prominent human rights activist.

Martina Navrátilová at Prague Open 2006 photo/ Michal.Pohorelsky via wiki

Martina Navrátilová at Prague Open 2006 photo/ Michal.Pohorelsky via wiki

Jamie Moyer

Can you imagine throwing a fastball throughout four decades? Well, Jamie Moyer did just that, entering Major League Baseball in 1986 (for the Chicago Cubs) and racking up wins until finally retiring from the sport in 2013, a month shy of his 51st birthday. Along the way, he played for the Cubs, the Rangers, the Cardinals, the Orioles, the Red Sox, the Mariners, the Phillies, the Rockies, and a handful of minor league teams.

With a more than respectable 269-209 win-loss record, Moyer earned his wins with a variety of pitches: sinkers, cut fastballs, sliders, changeups, and curveballs. His versatility took him all the way to the top, as he won the World Series in 2008 with the Philadelphia Phillies. Now that he’s finally put his glove away, Jamie serves as an occasional baseball broadcaster, as well as a philanthropist.

Jamie Moyer 2007 photo, at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  photo/ Beno1983 via wikipedia

Jamie Moyer 2007 photo, at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania photo/ Beno1983 via wikipedia

Beryl Burton

In a world where athletic records are shattered all the time, managing to hold a title for a few consecutive years is quite the accomplishment. Well imagine holding the Road Time Trials Council’s “British Best All-Rounder” for a whopping 25 years. That’s a quarter of a century that Beryl Burton was the greatest female cyclist in the entire United Kingdom.

But Beryl wasn’t just the top woman, she was the best cyclist PERIOD. When she broke the 12 hour time trial record with a showing of 277.25 miles, she bested both men and women, and held the record for two full years. Add in her 90+ domestic championships, seven world championships, and countless other records, and it’s clear that Beryl Burton was a cyclist without equal. Given that she kept competitively riding into her late 50s, it goes to show that athletes of any age can keep setting records.

Beryl Burton photo/ Kroon, Ron / Anefo via wiki

Beryl Burton photo/ Kroon, Ron / Anefo via wiki

Ed Whitlock

It might be fair to call Ed Whitlock a long-long-distance runner. Because he’s been doing marathons since the 1940s, and continues to run today, at the inspiring age of 85. As a lad, he set cross-country records for the University of London in the aftermath of World War Two.

But his accomplishments didn’t end then. After initially giving up on running, he returned to the sport in his 40s, and quickly got back to setting records. In 2003, he became the first runner over the age of seventy to finish a marathon in under three hours, and he continued to improve upon that time as years went by. Even today, in his mid-80s, he finishes marathons in about three hours and fifteen minutes, a speed that would put your average twenty year old racer to shame.

2012 photo of Ed Whitlock after setting a world record at the Milton half-marathon  Scott Crawford photo via wiki

2012 photo of Ed Whitlock after setting a world record at the Milton half-marathon Scott Crawford photo via wiki

You Can Do It Too

These five inspiring stories go to show that you can be healthy and in great shape at any age. You might not be breaking world records, but staying active is proven to not only extend lives, but make those live happier and more enjoyable as well.

While some people may have been athletic when they were younger, we often give up our favorite sports when the demands of adulthood — raising a family, the stresses of a career, etc — overwhelm us. Fortunately, it can be fun and simple to get back into shape.

Consider starting with a “low impact” sport that will be easier on your body. So trade the bruising impacts of football or basketball for something like swimming or bicycling. These sports not only are soft on your body and good for the heart, but they let you go as easy or as hard as you’re feeling in a given day. In the pool, one day you can do a demanding breaststroke, and the next day a leisurely float. On a bike, consider investing in an electric bicycle, so that when you’re not feeling like pumping your legs over a hill, the silent electric motor will do the work for you.

With a little determination, you too can be an amazing older athlete, an inspiration to both your friends and family!

Brought to you by EVELO Electric Bicycles, the maker of amazing bikes for people of all ages and abilities.

Author: Shan Ge

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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