Friday, July 4, 2008

41. Forty one. Cuarento Uno. Quatre et un.

It shouldn't be a surprise that I'm addicted to the Olympic trials.

I never really watched track and field before and since running will always be something to be enjoyed vicariously (bring on the bike), I love watching the strong athletes. Especially my fast twitch sprinter friends.

It should definitely be no surprise that I never leave the TV when the swimming trials are on as they have been for almost a week.

Michael Phelps, Ian Crocker (go Longhorns!!) and Dara Torres.

Who is 41.
She's 41.
Did you know she's 41?
At 41, she's an amazing athlete.
She's 41 AND a mother. How amazing!!!
And she won!! At 41!!

I cringed more and more each time Bob Costas said this. Which was a lot. Probably twenty times or more but I think I'm going to count next time. Since when did 41 and/or parenthood become such a show-stopper? I was sure that someone was going to offer her a cane to help her get out of the pool.

Let's do a little research here:

2006 Winter Olympics in Torino - Scott Baird, a curler - 54
Anne Abernathy-luge - 52

The average age of a first-time competitor as a masters swimmer is 64.

Ruben Berg - 91 - masters swimmer in Minnesota - 253 medals since starting masters at 79

And you know I couldn't let this rest without triathlete data (of which there is a lot):

Mary Stroebe - 88 (first triathlon at 75 - competed with son and granddaughter)

Bill Bell As of 2000 (when this article was written) competing in his 30th Ironman - oh, wait: 155 marathons, 225 triathlons and two ultramans (look up the darn distance on that, will you?)

Why must we qualify age as the deciding factor as to the athlete's talent? Furthermore, why is there a line that we apparently cross when we are no longer allowed to fulfill our dreams? It's pathetic that age (either under 18 or over 30) is food for sports announcers. It also produces little sympathy when I hear someone tell me, "I can't do that, I'm too old." Who perpetuates this myth?

I wish I could count on one hand the times I've watched someone twice my age toast me during a triathlon.

But what's impressive (and it seems something the announcers as statisticians don't bother to analyze) is when athletes, regardless of age or sport, put in their time - their LIVES - to reach their goals. Whether it's just to finish or to get to Kona. Or, hey, the Olympics.

Isn't the Olympics about people doing amazing things? And it's our responsibility to watch and appreciate and be inspired - by EVERYBODY.


Bob Mitera said...

How about Bob McKeague at 84? Madonna Buder at 70 whatever?

Age is a measure of time, not of someone's will, spirit or drive.

The media needs to get over it.

The BOGer said...