Age is just a number, and for these hard working athletes that number doesn’t mean much. Despite reaching ages where most people start to get weaker, these competitors continue to rack up amazing achievements that people half their age would probably envy.
The next time you’re sitting on the couch pondering how “the diet starts tomorrow,” think about these nine aging athletes. It’s time to kick it in gear and use these incredible role-models to jumpstart your way to a healthier lifestyle.
Dara Torres, Age 44
Five time Olympian and mother of one
Not only has Torres competed in five different Olympics (spanning from 1984 to 2008), at 41 she became the oldest swimmer ever to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. Proving her inclusion on the team was far from a fluke: Torres won multiple medals and anchored the 4x100-meter freestyle relay, winning her fifth medal in that event. Unwilling to rest on her laurels, she is currently training for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Dean Karnazes, Age 48
Ultramarathon runner and father of two
For most people, training for a marathon is serious business. However, for Dean Karnazes, one marathon is usually just the beginning. In 2006 he completed 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days, doing one marathon in each of the 50 states. His final marathon was the New York Marathon, which he completed in 3 hours and 30 seconds, a finish time that would make most well-rested runners jealous.
Herschel Walker, Age 49
Football player turned cage fighter
Despite an 11 year career in the NFL, it’s his recent accomplishments in Mixed Martial Arts that have Herschel Walker back in the news. At almost 50, he claims to be in the best shape of his entire life (and for a two-time Pro Bowl selection, that’s definitely saying something). If that’s not enough, he’s even on record as pondering a return to the NFL, saying "I've told everyone that at 50 I might try football again to show people I can do that. I want to be the George Foreman of football, come back and do that one more time...”
Merlene Ottey, Age 51
Queen of the track
She’s been to the Olympics more than any other track and field athlete in history (7 times) and in 2010, Merlene Ottey became the oldest athlete ever to compete in the European Athletics Championships. Anchoring the 4x100 meter relay for her adopted country of Slovenia, Ottey ran the final leg in approximately 11.5 seconds, which was good enough to shatter her previous record for fastest 100 meters by a female over 50.
Nolan Shaheed, Age 61
The grandmaster runner
Last year Nolan Shaheed became the first person over 60 to run a sub-5 minute mile. To put that in perspective, the average 60-year old runs about a 14 minute mile and a fit 15-year old should be able to run a mile in about 6 minutes. The previous record had stood for over 10 years. How fast can you run a mile?
Dick Hoyt, Age 71
World's greatest dad
Perhaps the most inspiring sports story around, Team Hoyt is composed of Dick Hoyt and his son Rick. Because Rick suffers from cerebral palsy, his father Dick swims, bikes, and runs on his behalf, towing him along for the ride. Together, the two have completed over 1,000 different events including 68 marathons, 240 triathlons, and 6 full Ironmans. Not bad for a guy who didn’t even take up running until the age of 37.
Ernestine Shepherd, Age 74
Competitive bodybuilding grandma
At the age of 74, Ernestine Shepherd was recently listed by Guinness as the oldest competitive female bodybuilder ever. Her impeccably toned six-pack is her signature, and her husband of 54 years says he “has trouble keeping guys away from her.” In addition to making much younger women feel insecure about themselves, Shepherd does some occasional modeling and teaches fitness classes in her hometown of Baltimore.
Sister Madonna Buder, Age 80
The iron nun
Nicknamed the Iron Nun, Sister Madonna Buder has completed 325 triathlons including 36 full Ironman events. In 2006, at 76 years old she became the oldest woman ever to complete the Hawaii Ironman which includes a 1.2 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run. Buder completed the race just under the 17 hour cutoff, crossing the line at 16 hours and 59 minutes. She completed another Ironman in 2009 and is currently signed up to compete at Ironman Canada in August, 2011.
Min Bahadur Sherchan, Age 80
The mountain climber
On May 25th, 2008 Sherchan became the oldest person ever to reach the peak of Mount Everest, besting the previous record which had been set just one year prior by a spry 71-year old. Even though he was only 76 at the time he set the record, Sherchan’s achievement places him in elite company as one of just 1,500 people ever to climb Mount Everest.