I learned about a book called The Wonder Years that celebrates senior amateur athletes “who never slow down.” Of course these are rare individuals who have their health, the will to persist, and the physical capability to still compete. Very inspirational. They are truly blessed. The USA Today article follows the pictures. The photographer Rick Rickman’s words apply to us all: “…no matter how old you are, you can be active and engaged in life and have a whole lot of fun and not be this fragile, decaying entity.”
The first portrait is of a Catholic nun who began exercising at 49 and has since finished 20 Ironman triathlons in Hawaii and over 300 more around the world. She is 79! There is a video about her accomplishments at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUp9v8A46dk Check out 66-year-old Clifford Cooper’s October 31st post below about his upcoming Ironman dedicated to his brother who died of Alzheimer’s.
Margaret Hinton has competed in numerous national games. “I can tell that some of these people came here to socialize. That is okay, but I’ve come here to take home the gold.” Eve Fletcher began surfing more than 50 years ago. “I don’t think you can be too old to be stoked.”
Jane Hesselgesser was a concert pianist and Bill Cunningham was a soccer player and a double for Frankie Avalon. Now in their 60’s and 70’s respectively, they compete as a pair in bodybuilding events around the world against couples 20 years younger.
Senior Athletes Still a ‘Wonder’ at Their Age
By Reid Cherner, USA TODAY
Growing old might be a contact sport, but it shouldn’t be a competition you need to lose.
That is the premise of The Wonder Years: Portraits of Athletes Who Never Slow Down, a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Rick Rickman.
The official photographer of the Senior Olympic Games, Rickman has profiled everyday athletes who many think were past their expiration date as competitors. From surfers to runners to swimmers to body builders.
“These are people who, for the most part, really have no misconceptions that they ever are going to be athletic superstars,” Rickman said. “They are people who love to stay fit and healthy and competitive. Most of them started training late in life, and it has been a wonderful thing for them.”
When a high school student asked the photographer if he had any remorse taking pictures of people doing activities “that might hurt them,” a book idea was born. “I was so taken back I didn’t know how to answer at first,” he said. “I realized that there is this strange perception about aging in this country. I think in the process of growing old and gathering days under your belt, you can decide for yourself whether to be active and engaged and vital all the way to the end.
“I hope (the reader) takes away the fact that, no matter how old you are, you can be active and engaged in life and have a whole lot of fun and not be this fragile, decaying entity.”