Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Age Mythology In Sports

As I woke up this morning I was feeling the usual neck/shoulder pain that has plagued me for some time now. I’m pretty sure it stems from a car accident many years ago. As with many injuries it seems to worsen/become nagging with time and age…ugh! I really try not to let it get in the way of anything – I figure if senior citizens can play golf and surf, so can I. As I climbed into my computer desk chair this morning I read a very sad headline about someone else’s injury:

Triathlete dies after bike crash in Santa Barbara

Barbara Warren was 65 years of age and still a competing triathlete. She had a fall from her bike while going downhill and became paralyzed from the neck down. With a ventilator helping her breathe, she was only able to communicate with her family by blinking and nodding. Apparently, as an active person, she could not bear living this way. Her family understood and took her off the ventilator that kept her alive.

I was definitely saddened by the story but also encouraged. Warren was a remarkable athlete that defied the stereotypes of her age. Her story reminds me that I still have many, many years of activity left. I think it is about time that media and the public stop nurturing the belief that we can only be athletic or in shape and competitive if we are 20 years old. I’ve read about and met many in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond that participate in strenuous/competitive physical activity nearly every day. Need an example? Come check out the beaches in Southern California. You’ll see women and men as old as your parents/grandparents and older out surfing every morning. Oh yeah, and they certainly don’t look their age. The same goes for a lot of folks that I meet on the golf course. You’ve all heard of that remarkable Olympic swimmer Dara Torres also.

What’s my point today? I guess I’m just both delighted and inspired to know that simply because I’m getting older, it doesn’t mean that I will have to throw in the towel on my favorite activities. I’ve really always known that though, even when I was 20. Being active truly seems to be the fountain of youth.

My condolences to the family of Barbara Warren. I’m glad to have read about her inspiring career and hope her relatives heal from the loss.

Who are some “older” athletes you admire?


Lindsay said...

I admire Dara Torres. Although 41 does not see that old to me anymore, she is still almost 20 years older than me and is still ripped and kicking butt. Plus, she looks younger than she is, probably because she is so active.

Apryl DeLancey said...

Yeah - over 40 is the new over 25, I think. Those who stay active seem to keep that young look which is another motivator to stay in shape!