“I sing the body electric… That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.” – Walt Whitman
Aging involves an inevitable deterioration of the body and loss of physical ability. But people aren’t born with expiration dates and there is truth to the old idiom, “Age is just a number.” There are people in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, even centenarians, who don’t let age keep them from singing the body electric. Learn more about some amazing seniors who are doing just that.
In light of the Olympics, we’ve highlighted five astounding elderly athletes. They are inspirational reminders that we shouldn’t use age as an excuse to let ourselves go, but instead ought to challenge ourselves throughout life.
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These amazing individuals also show that a body well taken care of can last a very long time, indeed. Finally, their stories can serve as a “kick-in-the-pants” to younger folks who have fallen into a sedentary lifestyle.
If 101 year-old Faukja Singh can complete a marathon, maybe you can too.
Here are profiles 5 unforgettable elderly athletes:
Faukja Singh is the oldest person ever to complete the 26.2 mile masochist trek popularly known as a marathon. Last year he completed the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 8 hours and 11 minutes, and in 2003 when he was a mere 93 years old, he completed the same marathon in just 5 hours and 40 minutes, a time most young adults would be proud of.
Humans are drawn to the sublime- objects and places that are beautiful and awe-inspiring, yet vaguely horrifying in their sheer scale and cold indifference. And what could be more sublime than Everest, the tallest mountain in the world? Each year, hundreds of climbers head to Everest to attempt the summit and only a fraction make it to the top. And inevitably some perish during the journey. But the prospect of failure and the very real risks did not deter Min Bahadur Sherchan.
This year Sherchan became the oldest person to summit the 29,000 foot peak, male or female. She told reporters that she was climbing for a better world, remarking, “My main objective for climbing Everest was for world peace. I was determined to either climb the peek or die trying.” Her journey nearly ended in disaster when unexpected winds lashed the mountain during her ascent; but Sherchan persevered and cemented a spot in the record books.
There’s much more to yoga than sitting cross-legged and chanting ‘Ommmmmm’ while incense burns. In fact, many yoga positions are extremely demanding, and others appear downright impossible. But Tao Porchon-Lynch can do them all. Even the most strenuous, pretzel-like positions are child’s play for Tao, a New York City Yoga Instructor. But Tao is not just any yoga enthusiast; at 93, she is recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest yoga instructor. But ever modest, she commented at the time of her recognition, “I’m sure there’s a 100-year-old guy in Indian who can probably beat me.” You can view video of Tao’s remarkable skill here.
George Blair’s friends and fans call him “Banana” because he always seems to have a peeled banana in his hands ready to devour. Perhaps the banana is the secret to his longevity and vigor. Or maybe they just taste good. In any event, George “Banana” Blair takes water skiing to a whole new level. He has decided you don’t need skis to waterski, and goes barefoot instead. He also shocks onlookers with his signature move: As a speedboat drags him across the laketop at highway speed, he holds the tow-rope with his teeth, at an age where most people don’t have teeth to speak of. You can see Banana George in action here.
Are you an older athlete? Do you have a story to share about a senior athlete in your life? What sports are best for seniors? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.