Thursday, May 24, 2012

Older Adults Who Are Athletes

Diana Nyad. Photo by hammer_nutrition.
Last Update: December 9, 2015

Too often, the general population defines older adults by their limitations.  While it is true that as a group, older adults accrue more physical limitations as they age, it is still possible to maintain an active lifestyle.   Even though biology seems like destiny, people have a lot of control over their fitness through lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, smoking cessation and stress management.

Recently, the media has made much of Dara Torres, Olympic swimmer, who was born April 15, 1967 and Diana Nyad, endurance swimmer, who was born August 22, 1949.

Not all older athletes are professionals.  Many of the Baby Boomers are redefining late adulthood as an era of active aging. The IHRSA reports that the number of health club members 55+ grew by 343% between 1987 and 2003 compared to 180% for their middle aged peers. Publications such as Sports Geezer and online sources such as the sports section of The Senior Journal attest to an increase of amateur athletes.

For those who are more serious about their fitness, they have the opportunity to compete in organizations specifically for higher age brackets such as the Master Athletes competitions and  National Senior Games (NSG). Here is a trailer for the documentary, Age of Champions, featuring athletes competing in the NSG:

In honor of those mature athletes who have passed on, see this post about their legacies.

What follows is a list of living older athletes (organized by date of birth).

Marathon Runner, Fauja Singh (b. April 1, 1911) Video below.

Runner, Ida Keeling (b. May 1915).
Yoga Teacher, Ida Herbert (b. 1916) Video below.

Tennis Player, Artin Elmayan (b. April 5, 1917)
Yoga Teacher, Tao Porchon-Lynch (b. August 13, 1918)

Triathlete, Arthur Gilbert (b. 1921) 
Swimmer, John Tatum (b. 1920).
Pole Vaulter, Adolph Hoffman (b. 1923)
Runner, Harriette Thompson (b. 1923)
Gymnast, Johanna Quaas (b. 1925) Video below.

Iron(wo)man Athlete, Madonna Buder (b. July 24, 1930).
Runner, Ed Whitlock (b. March 6, 1931)
Mountain Climber, Min Bahadur Scherchan (b. June 20, 1931)
Fitness Instructor, Peggy Sullivan (b. February 5, 1932)
Mountain Climber, Yuichiro Miura (b. October 12, 1932)  
Bodybuilder, Ernestine "Ernie" Shepherd (b.  June 16, 1936) Video below.

Mountain Climber, Tamae Watanabe (b. November 11, 1938)
Equestrian Rider, Hiroshi Hoketsu (b. March 28, 1941)
Endurance athlete, Sir Ranulph Fiennes (b. March 7, 1944).
Marathon runner, Liam Hanna aka Zendomorph Star Child (b. August 12, 1944)
Swimmer, Diana Nyad (b. August 22, 1949)

Musher, Mitch Seavey (b. 1959) Winner of the 2013 Iditarod.

Now when I start muttering excuses for skipping my workout, I'll watch one of these videos and get myself out the door.

If you have updates about anyone listed below, please comment or send me an email (which you can find in the "About Me" section to the left). I try to check on all these folks from time to time, but sometimes I miss an update.


  1. Love this one - I'll be checking this out every time I want to blowoff my new trainer (ok its just a trial for now but ....)

  2. Kat: I love, love, love mature athletes. I am glad you got a boost from their stories.

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  4. These are awesome and inspirational people. Goes to show that anything is possible. Thanks for this blog, I will be sharing.