I follow a number of interesting people and organisations on Facebook – including AgeUK who post lots of interesting news items. Many of their posts are good news stories about ageing which can be very uplifting. They have shared several articles on elderly sportsmen and women accomplishing incredible feats which I repeat here.
It is useless and even harmful to our wellbeing to compare ourselves detrimentally to others, so do not feel inferior when you read the stories of these ageing athletes but rejoice in their achievements with me, as they inspire us all to do whatever we can within our own personal limits to keep moving, aspiring, and trying out new things.
Another reason to share these stories is to do what this site regularly tries to do, that is to dispel harmful, downbeat mindsets about ageing. We need to offset the negative imagery and myths about ageing and understand that it can continue to be a fulfilling time of life in thousands of different ways. We need to challenge pessimistic thinking, particularly our own, because science shows it can become self-fulfilling. On my fridge is the sticker “Think it and you’ll be it” to remind myself to watch my thinking and language on ageing.
So, let’s celebrate the following athletes’ triumphs. If you are a Facebook member you can check out the links.
First there is Julia Hawkins, who started running, yes running, at 100 and at 102 years of age beat the 60m record in a USA Track and Field Masters Indoor Championships race for, wait for it, the over 100’s. Julia is nicknamed ‘The Hurricane’ and has beaten several world records in this age group. At the same American event 100 year old stroke survivor Orville Rogers swept away the competition in his men’s race and also broke a world record, saying that he has a determination to hang in there, keep going and never give up. Worth watching on YouTube! Julia and Orville on YouTube
Facebook also features another senior runner breaking records, the 102 year old Ida Keeling, who celebrated the end of one race by doing push-ups! Ida’s story is an inspiring one. She took up running at the suggestion of her daughter in her late 60’s when suffering depression following the death of her two sons in drug related violence. She kept running and says “The good part was that the sad part left.” Facebook link: Ida Keeling
More senior athletes are featured on footage of the British Indoors Masters where competitors are aged between 35 and 100, many being in their 80’s and 90’s. Some are stroke and cancer survivors, or have heart and joint replacement issues just as everyone else, and “they just get back out there and carry on”. One 92 year old competitor said he now has friends all around the world because of his running, and another man said that he is the only 80 year old to have done the heptathlon in Great Britain. Facebook link: The British Indoors Masters
Then there is the San Diego ‘Splash’ Ladies Basketball Team who are all over 80, with two members being in their 90’s. One lady says she never got the chance to play sports as a young woman. “I was 78 when I got my first basketball shoes so that was a thrill”. Facebook link: The San Diego Splash Team
Though not a ‘sportsperson’ as such, I will also include Barbara. This year, at 81 years of age, Barbara, said to be the UK’s oldest ballerina, received the Royal Academy of Dance’s highest accolade. Facebook link: Barbara
All of these remarkable people are smashing stereotypes of ageing. I really enjoyed watching these inspiring seniors. As Charles Eugster who started sprinting at 95 said: “You can start a new life at any age” (he also fell in love). And that’s the point. Even if you are not able to be mobile these role models also show us that you are never too old to take on a new challenge, whatever that might be.
Age is just a number.