An Over 50 Olympic Athlete


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I watched the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Admittedly, I wasn’t glued to the television like I was during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, but I was definitely interested and entertained. I watched as much of the speed skating as I could. (Yes, as a former sprinter I am partial to well-developed thighs and glutes and the men definitely have them in speedskating! Because I am 5’7″ and 150 lbs, I prefer the long track because those guys are bigger than me. I have maybe 2-3″ and 15-20 lbs. on the short track guys!) I also watched some of the downhill skiing events. I ski and watching the athletes in the luge, downhill skiing, the Super G, and other events shows me why I’m not a better skier. Shift my weight and remain only 2-3″ above ground on the right or left. Hah! I’d fall over before I ever got close. The only time I get that close to the ground when exercising is when I’m purposely doing floor exercises! And to get that close while traveling at speeds in excess of 60 mph without benefit of surrounding steel or aluminum. No thank you. But kudos to them.

The 54-year old slalom skier

The 54-year old prince in all his pre-competition glory at Sochi.

Which brings me to why I’m writing. I have my theories on why more “older” athletes do not compete. It has more to do with what athletes and their coaches and trainers believe and the wear and tear a body is subjected to than just one’s age. One day I’ll share them, but not here. (I’m sure you’re holding your breath.) Anyway, I was quite excited to see an Olympic athlete who was not just over the age of 40, but over the age of 50.  He was from Mexico! (Actually, he has German and Mexican citizenship but he competed for the country that’s somewhat less of a winter sport powerhouse! Mexico sent just one competitor to the Winter Olympics – him.) His name? Drum roll please. Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe, 54 years of age, competed in the slalom. Yes, he skied down the hill on the slalom! One of those events that make you take your body close to the ground at high (excessive!) speeds. Kudos and congratulations to him! Felicidades! (That’s Spanish for congratulations.) Gluckwünsch! (German) He has participated in six Olympics, but hadn’t participated since the 1994 Winter Games. (This lends credence to my not-yet-discussed theory of why more older athletes do not compete!) The articles I read about Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe focused more on the broad range of his interests and pursuits (i.e., “the most interesting competitor in the Winter Olympics”) than on his training and skills. The prince qualified for the Olympics, which was his main goal. He came more to enjoy himself and provide PR for his country than to actually try to win. But he was there! So your takeaway should be: It’s never too late! Have you had visions of returning to the competitive arena in a sport you played or participated in two decades ago? If Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe can make it to the Olympics after a 20-year absence, you can join your local tennis league or road runners group. Go for it! Just remember to do the necessary ground work before you jump back in! Here’s to your health!

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