Age is, indeed, just a number. There is no reason or rhyme behind the prejudiced notion of masses that needs one to be of certain age; never less or more, to do something. The daunting memory of getting to bat last or begging to throw ball as the youngest kid of the lot is a mutual experience most of us share. It is not so different once you’re older. Being older in the group has made people feel out of place or left out.
But when it comes to sport, no amount of criticism can harm or dull the spirits of some athletes. Let’s look at some of the oldest athletes who defied all odds by participating at the highest level:
The 51-year-old ‘executioner’ - Bernard Hopkins
At 51, Bernard Hopkins neither looks old nor shows signs of stopping. The US boxer, known as ‘the executioner’ and ‘B Hop’, won the WBC title at the age of 46 and defended it at 48 and again at 49. Sheer class! Hopkins broke George Foreman’s record of being the oldest title holder in WBC history. Hopkins lost his title after losing his most recent bout but will have one more ‘meaningful fight’ before he decides to hang his gloves.
Baseball’s ‘Nature boy’ - Julio Franco
With five decades of baseball behind him, Julio Franco is no stranger to the Americans. He started his career in 1978 and played 23 seasons of Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1982. Franco had an impressive slash of .309/.378/.441 in 125 games with Atlanta Braves even at 45 years old. In 2015, he played professional baseball with Japanese club, Ishikawa Million Stars, also shouldering the responsibility of team manager.
The Black Knight - Gary Player
Everything about Gary Player’s career is exceptional. The 81-year-old South-African retired from international golf last year and what a career it was with nine major titles including three British Open and three Masters titles. Known for his fitness, Player boasts of doing 1,000 sit-ups and push-ups every day even at this age. He used to hit 70s regularly and made it look easy.
The septuagenarian man of Gold - Oscar Swahn
Sweden’s Oscar Swahn was 72 years and 281 days old while competing in the shooting category at the 1920 Olympics. He is also the oldest Gold medallist and medallist till date. Swahn won the Gold in shooting in 1912 Olympics at the age of 64 years and 280 days. He also won a silver medal in 1920 Olympics at the age of 72, making him the oldest person to do so. Swahn won six medals in his illustrious career.
The Golden Lady of Olympics - Lorna Johnston
British equestrian rider, Lorna Johnston was 70 years and five days old when she competed in the 1972 Summer Olympics. She is also the oldest woman to have ever participated in Olympics.
Old is Gold - Galen Carter Spencer
US archer G.C Spencer competed in the 1904 Olympics on his 64th birthday. He went on to win the Gold medal in the team event and was crowned as the oldest Olympic medallist until Swedish Oscar Swahn broke his record in 1912.
An eye for the prize - Jerry Milner
Jerry Milner, a British shooter who competed in the 1908 Olympics, won a Gold medal for 1000 yards free-rifle category. He was 61 years and four days old at the time.
The archer granny - Lida Peyton “Eliza” Pollock
The oldest female medallist and Gold medallist in history, Lida Peyton Pollock, was a US archer. She was 63 years and 333 days when she won the Gold in the 1904 Olympics for US.