The Performance Matrix

Sport begins (& continues) at 40

16th August 2016

Although both firmly established as part of TPM Active, one would think it easy to distinguish between the older and active client and the pro athlete. Yet, sometimes the advancing years doesn’t mean we all have to kiss goodbye to competing at the highest level across a range of gruelling events. Although ‘life might begin at 40’ if we are to believe the saying, it seems sport doesn’t have to stop at this particular milestone. For the majority of the population 40 is not old; however, for the elite sports man or woman this rather modest age is typically as time to reflect on what has been and what might have been. But things are changing for the 40 plus.

With Rio 2016 in full samba style swing the selection of a female 10K runner to Team GB should not really be catching the headlines, however when the athlete is 42 years old the interest seems justified. Jo Pavey highlights how ‘if you are good enough, you are young enough’, a statement which begins the question many assumed perceptions of age. 

Another fantastic example of age not slowing you down in the sports arena in the recent success of cyclist Kristin Armstrong who defied critics to win a third Olympic Gold  at Rio; read more of her story here

Similarly 41 year old gymnast Oksana Chusovitinia competed in her seventh, yes SEVENTH Olympic games at this years event.

Proving the over 40s are not just there to make up the numbers, Misbah-ul-Huq, the captain of the Pakistan cricket team recently weighed in with a run score of 114 against England at Lords. The 42 year old celebrated his centenary with 10 press ups, perhaps giving insight behind both his performance and his career’s longevity.

Success for a highly seasoned professional is not a completely new aspect to elite sport as the then 41 years old Italian Dino Zoff would testify holding aloft the World Cup trophy after the 1982 final. Goalkeepers playing well beyond the age of 30 is now commonplace. During Euro 2016 it was the Hungarian keeper Gabor Kiraly’s dress sense that was capturing the headlines rather than the fact he was representing his country beyond his 40th birthday. For outfield players, who are more reliant on pace and endurance than their shot stopping teammates, remaining competitive and being selected at 40 has been a tougher goal to hit.

Ryan Giggs’ illustrious career has gone some way to show what can be done if care and attention is paid to one’s movement. Known for his adoption of yoga, Giggs has turned his interest in the discipline into a profitable side line selling DVDs on how to stay super fit and 40. Whilst disciplines such as yoga are in no way novel they are a new addition to the complementary strategies employed within elite sport. As the value of a movement focussed approach gains momentum there’s never been a better time to consider putting movement management into the weekly schedule. Perhaps we are not all heading to Rio, or even Tokyo in 2020 but it does appear to be becoming clear how movement matters whether we are playing on the world stage or competing in any sense. Looking after our movement, so that we can still achieve our goals and enjoy those activities that only movement can allow, might just be the secret to beating the sands of time and not just the stopwatch and opposition.


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