Middle-Aged Elite Athletes Train For The Olympics And Beyond
August 26, 2011
There have been more stories on athletes who are making a comeback in sports or just training and succeeding in athletics well into there 40′s and 50′s. Low-Impact sports such as swimming, rowing, and cycling are activities that you can do practically your whole life. I want to talk about 3 athletes in particular that have defied the odds of age in highly competitive sports.
In a recent article in the Life Section of USA TODAY on August 15th, 2011 Janet Evans is one of those athletes making a comeback in the world of competitive Olympic swimming. Four-time Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans took 15 years off from competitive swimming as is training again as she nears 40. Evans’ efforts “shows us we don’t really know yet how long people can compete at top levels. It gives all of us incentive to keep pushing and learning about the possibilities.” National Athletic Trainers’ Association
Read more about Janet Evans in USA Today here: http://yourlife.usatoday.com/fitness-food/exercise/story/2011/08/Olympian-Janet-Evans-Older-and-back-in-the-swim/49965714/1
Honorable Mention: At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Dara Torres beat swimmers half her age, winning 3 silver medals at age 41! In June, French cyclist Jeannie Long-Ciperwlli, Age 52, gained her 58th national title. She, too, is considering the 2012 Games in London.
In the sport of rowing, Jüri Jaanson (born October 14, 1965) is the most successful Estonian rower of all time and the winner of five medals at Rowing World Championships. He became World Champion in Tasmania 1990 in the single sculls event. At age 38 he won an Olympic silver medal in the single sculls event at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. In Beijing 2008 he won his second Olympic silver medal at age 42. In 2007, Jaanson became the oldest rower ever to win a World Cup event at the age of 45 in Amsterdam. He is among only four athletes to compete in rowing at six different Olympics 88′, 92′, 96′, 00′, 04′, 08′!! On 18 November 2010, Jaanson announced ending his career. In July 2011 he was awarded with the Thomas Keller Medal, the highest honor in rowing. In the 2003 US Rowing National Championships I actually raced Juri in the finals of the single sculls when I was training on the national team in Camden, NJ. I knew his credentials and was scared to race him but I decided I would go off the line as fast as possible. I hung with Juri for the first 1,200 meters of the 2,000 meter race but then it was like Juri had rockets on his boat and just took off beating me by a comfortable 12 seconds. He was an amazing athlete and one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Extremely humble and a great competitor. It was an honor to race alongside a legend.
Lance Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France champion, was the king of cycling for most of the 2000′s. Armstrong single-handily made cycling, and the Tour de France in particular, a major spectator sport in America. At age 37 Lance Armstrong returned in 2009 to try to win the Tour again and finished a very proud third place overall to his Astana teammate Alberto Contador of Spain. At the 2010 Tour, he was nearly twice as old as some of his top adversaries at age 38. Armstrong announced before that he was retiring, in 2005, the year he won his unprecedented seventh consecutive Tour. Long before that, though, he had transcended the sport by coming back to win at its highest level after surviving testicular cancer. His previous break from cycling lasted just over three years. In February 2011, at the age of 39, he announced that he has retired from his sport this time for good. Armstrong said he was leaving to spend time with his family, he has five children and that his age was catching up to him. Lance Armstrong is a prime example in a non-impact sport that you can still be the best regardless of age. Diet And Nutrition play a key role in the ability to keep training at high levels of intensity. Any elite athlete will tell you that you must eat well in order to do well in sports.
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