Arthurs-seat

Who says you're too old to kitesurf, or do any extreme sport for that matter?

There’s no such thing as “too old” – or not in Poul Rasmussen’s case. At 85 years old his passion is kitesurfing (AdvanceCopenhagen).

There are many much better and much longer videos, but unfortunately all with a lot of interviews included – and the language is Danish. Now, I have nothing against the Danish language, but I’m not sure how many of our readers are fluent in it! So I apologise to Poul, but the quick snip I’ve shown of a man to emanate will, I hope, whet your appetite to keep reading!

So that’s kitesurfing out the way, what about some of our other favourite sports?

Donna Vano is the oldest pro-snowboarder in the world. At 56 she is a legend in the snowboard and skateboard industry- an action sports veteran in every sense of the word. For 16 years she  has competed in Superpipe, Slopestyle, Boardercross, Slalom and Giant Slalom. She currently holds three Guinness World Records as the Oldest Inline Vert Skater in the World, the Most Gold Medals in the USASA in all 5 disciplines, and the Oldest Female Amateur Snowboarder Competing in Pro Tours in the Superpipe. She also runs the South Tahoe Snowboard Series USASA Nationals, which was the top for 8 years in a row and has been top in the series for 12 years. “I’m not getting older, I’m getting better,” she says.

The oldest person to have climbed Mount Everest is a Nepalese Sherpa called Min Bahadur Sherchan. He was 76 years and 340 days old. The second oldest is 75-year-old Japanese Yuichiro Miura, who reached the top two days after him, and the third is another Japanese, 71 year old  Katsusuke Yanagisawa, a teacher by profession.

Canadian scales Everest 2 years after aborted try

In 2009,  Amanda Richmond, 54, a PE teacher from Ipswich, England, battled electrical storms, giant snow plumes and freezing temperatures to scale the 8,850m mountain, the highest on earth and so became the oldest woman to have climbed Everest.  She said: “It was incredible. I feel privileged to have been in that situation – to stand on top of the world.”

I’m trying to find the oldest wingsuit flyer, but in the meantime I have come across the oldest skydiver. Frank Moody, aged 101, made a tandem jump in 2004. Now that’s quite something isn’t – anybody who ‘doesn’t dare’ should be ashamed of themselves!!!

Still struggling to find the oldest wingsuit flyer, I have to allude to Yves Rossy – or ‘jet’ or ‘fusion’ man as he is also known. At 50, he has to be the oldest and most successful person to have achieved sustained human flight with the aid of a jet-powered fixed wing strapped to his back. His next project is to fly across the Grand Canyon. Rossy is both a highly experienced skydiver and a veteran aircraft pilot.

Yves Rossi mg 4625.jpg

“My biggest concern is what happens when I get bored with this (wingsuit flying),” says veteran BASEjumper Phil Smith on the risks of wingsuit jumping from buildings, bridges and cliffs, and that’s about the last word I have on the oldest wingsuit flyer. I know Dwain Weston was 30 when he died practicing the sport he loved, but as for the oldest wingsuit flyer?  Mum’s the word.

Since 2006, Russell Allen, an American cyclist has been the oldest living American Olympian Cyclist – he got his medal in 1932. But cycling has a venerable reputation for more aged participants. The oldest participant for the ‘Les 24 Heures Velo’ – a team-endurance cycle event to be held in August this year at the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit – will be 82 years old. Whereas, In 2007 in Ladysmith, South Africa, Mkhulu Mkhize, was given a brand new set of wheels at the venerable age of 112. Ok, fair enough, he’s not about to be competing at that age – but to still be cycling yourself around the countryside is quite something.

And as for the Olympics, it seems like our sportsmen are going on for ever and ever. The 2008 event was a real eye-opener. Japanese horseman Hiroshi Hoketsu lead the pack at Beijing, returning to the Games after a 44-year break, aged 67. Laurie Lever turned 60 in October 2007, the last thing on his mind was retirement with the Australian show jumper focused on riding in his first Olympics. The title of oldest Olympian is held by Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who collected his sixth medal at the 1920 Antwerp Games aged 72 years and 280 days. “We are a fitter generation,” said Lever, whose appearance on Ashleigh Drossel Dan in the show jumping in Hong Kong is believed to make him the oldest debutant at the 2008 Games.

Laurence J. Brophy of Wales at 77 years old took part in last years’ RacingThePlanet Atacama Crossing – surely one of the most testing of the ultramarathon/endurance races. He didn’t complete all stages, but he did most of it. An extraodinary undertaking for any human being let alone one on the other side of 70 and at 74, Jack Denness of the UK, took part in  the Sahara Race. He said: “It is fantastic to be here. I love it. It is great for my ego as even the front runners give me lots of respect because of my age.”

Sports academics are not surprised by the ability of athletes to remain competitive longer and expect increasing numbers of over 40s to stay competing at top level sport as training techniques and technology continue to improve.

“Ageing is inevitable for humans. But if you have goals in life, you should go through the physical and mental training, forget about age and embark on the challenges,” said Yuichiro Miura.

Something to think about, isn’t it…

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