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Inspiring Senior Citizens: 5 Amazing Senior Athletes

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When you get older you’re supposed to slow down, take it easy and fade off into the sunset. Infirmity sets in, and parts don’t work like they used to. Sports and strenuous activities you once enjoyed are best replaced with less-taxing pastimes, like knitting shawls or complaining about the weather. If you’re lucky you can stay out of a nursing home, and maybe get one of those cool lifts that carry you up the stairs in your home. Those little motorized wheelchairs are nice too. Did you know you get a free cup holder when you buy one of those?

But many seniors today aren’t having any of that baloney, and they’re enjoying their lives as much as ever. They’ve remained strong and active through the power of fitness. It’s a lesson for all of us as our society continues to struggle with obesity and other disease. In twenty or thirty years it’s not hard to imagine the toll an increasingly sick elderly population will have on our world. But it goes beyond that.

Aging brings with it a minefield of physical and psychological issues that destroy a senior’s health and quality of life. Fitness is one way to combat the downslide that occurs as one ages. Bones are not so fragile when a senior participates in strength training. Cardiovascular disease does not set in so easily when a senior remains aerobically active. Balance is better, and falls occurs less often and are less likely to result in injury when a senior is active. Depression and other psychological issues are less prevalent when a senior has confidence. Fit seniors just plain get more out of life.

In case you need proof, here are 5 amazing seniors sure to make those of us under 40 feel really lazy:


Senior citizens who stay or get fit are often able to maintain a higher quality of life into their twilight years.
Senior citizens who stay or get fit are often able to maintain a higher quality of life into their twilight years.

5 Amazing Senior Athletes

Tao Porchon-Lynch is the world’s oldest yoga teacher according to the Guinness Book of World Records, and the founder of the Westchester Institute of Yoga. Several years back when she was forced to have hip surgery her doctor suggested she ought to take it a little easy. Tao would have none of that, and instead took up ballroom dancing. Today the 93-year-old continues to teach yoga, and tears up dancing competitions with her 23-year-old partner.


Lew Hollander is an 81-year-old multisport athlete and fitness advocate. He competed in the 2011 Hawaii Ironman Triathlon, and finished the 2.2-mile swim, 110-mile bike race and 26.2-mile marathon run in under 17 hours. He’s an amazing athlete and avid horseman and endurance rider. Lew preaches the importance of fitness as we age, and provides an incredible example for athletes at any age.


Olga Kotelko is a 93-year-old Canadian track and field athlete who holds 23 world records. In fact, she holds every world record in the 90-95-year-old category, 17 in all. Olga is a great example of a senior who took up sports later in life. She started playing softball at the age of 65, and then began training for track and field events at age 77.


Sister Madonna Buder is known as the Iron Nun. In 2006 she completed the Ironman triathlon in less than 17 hours, and, at 76, became the oldest woman ever to finish. This beat here record from the year before by one year! She didn’t compete in her first triathlon until the age of 55, and has since competed in over 325 events.


79-year-old powerlifter Raymond Curtis found solace in the sport after enduring numerous personal tragedies, including the loss of his wife. In 2011 he set American records in the 75-79 year-old age group for the squat (270 lbs), bench press (236.75 lbs), dead lift (352.5 lbs) and total weight lifted (859.75).


The Future and Senior Fitness

Could we see the day when it’s common for people in their eighties to engage in strength training, running, or even team sports just as those in their twenties and thirties do? It would be a wonderful cultural shift. Many of us, especially those of us who are former athletes, can feel washed up when we hit 40. It’s nice to think there is a way to still enjoy sports at an advanced age.

Getting older is inevitable, but how we handle it makes all the difference. Many of the maladies once assumed a natural part of aging are lessened or even avoided altogether when seniors remain fit, active and vibrant. You don’t have to run a marathon or set a powerlifting record. Just being a little more active everyday is a great start.

Our outlook on aging has changed drastically in recent decades, and surely it will continue to evolve. Here’s to all the fearless senior citizens out there living their lives to the fullest. You’re an inspiration to us all!