Who says you have to be young to be a competitive Olympian? The Sochi Games have produced at least three medalists who are in their 40s, which says to me that your peak athletic years don’t have to be behind you if you’re over 25. As I get older, this thread of hope becomes even more important to me.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking: All these guys have to do is lie on their back and slide down a mountain. Any old person can do that. OK. I present Exhibit B: Ole Einar Bjorndalen, Norwegian biathlete, who won gold in the Men’s 10km sprint at age 40. This gold medal was his twelfth overall, tying the record for most medals in the Winter Olympics. Let me remind you that the guy is 40. Biathlon’s not easy either–you cross-country ski as fast as you can, then you have to get your blood pressure down as quickly as possible to be able to hold a rifle straight and hit a small target that’s about 50 meters away. It’s tough. I know. I do summer biathlon (running and shooting). I am no Bjorndalen…..unless he ever decides to start sponsoring the penalty loop, since I tend to spend a lot of time running around that, making up for missed shots.
The fact that these guys in their 40s can still be competitive gives me hope that if I work hard, I too can achieve a better level of fitness, lose those last 10 lbs, still achieve personal best times.
I just saw a piece on American snowboarder Kelly Clark, who at 30, is kind of surprised she’s competitive. She talked about having to work much harder to keep up with the 13-year-olds. If she’s not in the gym six days a week, she can’t hang.
Interesting, and when I hear a woman several years younger than me say that, it’s a little depressing. Then again, I’m not trying to twist and spin my body into a million directions and then stick a landing in a halfpipe. I’m just trying to be the fittest Jill I can be so I can do things like jump rope, run 5Ks and referee roller derby for a long time. It’s nice to have role models who show me it can be done.