|AP Photo/Aaron Favila|
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — For her 50th birthday celebration, Canadian curler Cheryl Bernard up to date her husband that they would indicate the occasion by hiking 8 hours a day along Italy’s durable Amalfi coast. “Seriously? ” this individual replied.
Seriously. Also unsurprising. All things considered, one year later, Bernard would end up being the oldest Olympian competing at the Pyeongchang Winter Games – an accomplishment that was not born of vacations spent knocking back margaritas poolside.
Bernard’s story is a familiar one amongst this year’s set of older Olympians, who credit consistency, better understanding of nutrition and age-won wisdom for your longevity of their careers. And lengthier careers may soon become the tradition for elite athletes, with large advances in sports medicine assisting Olympians stay competitive into center age, defying the idea that the Online games are reserved for the young.
“The age of some of the best in the world in their sports activity has gone up over time, like the Roger Federers of the world, in a number of stamina sports, ” says Robert Litchfield, a Canadian orthopedic surgeon that has operated on around 30 Olympic-level skiers.
“It’s not a given any more that you’d become weaker plus slower with aging, ” he admits that. “You can maintain a lot of actual physical tools if you take good care of your self – and the advantage (is) along with age comes wisdom. ”
Designed for Bernard, taking good care of herself is really a habit. Though she retired through competitive curling four years ago, the lady jumped at the chance to join Canada’s Olympic curling team as an alternative in Pyeongchang.
She was prepared: Even in retirement, she had continuing to curl and maintain her normal fitness regimen. She does ninety minutes of cardio and strength training a day, at least six days per week. She loves going for walks with the girl dog and, of course , hiking along with her husband. She follows the protein-heavy diet that mainly includes vegetables and meat, with the periodic glass of red wine.
“It’s simply my lifestyle. It’s who We are, ” Bernard says. “I feel as if age is such a number these days. It can changed. I look at people today and I think, ‘There’s no way you’re forty. ‘”
Consistency has also been key in order to 45-year-old Japanese ski jumper Noriaki Kasai’s success. Kasai is contending in his eighth Olympics at Pyeongchang – a record – in a sports activity where many retire in their twenties. He trains the same way they have since he was young, plus mirrors the workouts of their younger competitors. He’s even created an advice book on how individuals can achieve their best physical and psychological health after age 40.
“I feel 20, ” he mentioned with a grin last week, shortly after finishing a 99-meter jump.
Kasai furthermore attributes experience to his continuing success. He still learns some thing from every jump and research his performance to see what can become improved.
That’s important, says Litchfield, who notes that older sportsmen actually have an edge over youngsters with regards to familiarity of the competition sites, that they often have visited many times. At the outside ski venues, Litchfield says, an experienced athlete would know about shortcuts, or even where any little bumps within the course may be.
Then there is the essential driver universal to all Olympians, old and young: competitiveness.
“Many say it is just impossible to be successful at the Games at this age group, ” 45-year-old German speed skater Claudia Pechstein told German company DPA. “I want to prove all of them wrong. ”
Pechstein is having one more standout year, capped with Entire world Cup victories in the 5, 000-meter race and the mass start, defeating competitors half her age. “It’s incredible, ” she said. “I could be their mother. ”
The particular flipside to consistency for Olympians is knowing how to adapt their particular regimens to their changing bodies.
Oughout. S. men’s hockey captain John Gionta, who turned 39 final month, is the oldest U. S i9000. men’s player and one of the earliest players in the men’s tournament.
Pertaining to him, growing older as an athlete provides meant more rehab and more preparing; where he once may have been able to jump off a bus and strike the ice, he now has to make sure his body is really heated up and moving properly before a game title.
“You have to adjust a lot of this over the years, but it just becomes a life-style…. It’s not something that you turn 37, all of a sudden you’ve got to change everything, inch he says. “It’s a slow development when you start getting up there in the 30s and stuff. You start changing several things and taking care of your body, hearing your body a little more. ”
Figuring out ways to optimize an aging athlete’s coaching routine has helped extend their own careers far beyond what they has been even just a decade ago, states Shawn Arent, director of the Middle for Health and Human Performance on Rutgers University in the U. Ersus.
Huge advances in sports technology in the past 10 to 15 years have created better understanding of what causes the break down of an athlete’s body, and how to postpone it.
Elite older athletes also have usually learned how to cope with the particular doubts and emotional strain that wreak havoc on rookies’ thoughts, Arent says. At 33, United states skier Lindsey Vonn is in the particular running to become the oldest female to win an Olympic alpine medal despite suffering major accidents and injuries. That, Arent states, is a testament to her willpower plus mental toughness.
“If you’re a good athlete who has been able to literally maintain themselves, you now have the actual ability plus the mental upshot which you may not have had as a younger sportsman to maintain yourself, ” he says.
Vonn noted that overcoming the psychological aspect of the sport did indeed take some time.
“It took me until my 3rd Olympics to really figure out how to deal with the particular pressure, ” she told reporters in Pyeongchang.
Heading into the Olympic curling trials, Bernard took up deep breathing to help her quiet her brain. But at this point in her living, she’s been through enough that it requires a lot to really rattle her. This is a lesson she hopes to provide to her teammates, who are all around 20 years younger than her.
“I believe the greatest realization for me with these women is this is just a sport, ” the girl says. “It’s the Olympics, indeed, it’s the biggest thing they’ll actually play in, but this is simply a game, and you’ve got family and individuals and things that are so important in every area of your life…. It dials it all back to what should be. ”
In the end, though, discover the simplest explanation of all for exactly how these older Olympians are still heading strong:
“Genetically, ” Arent states, laughing, “most of these guys are simply superior. ”
Associated Push writers Stephen Whyno and Raf Casert contributed to this report. Adhere to Kristen Gelineau on Twitter on @KristenGelineau. More AP Olympic insurance coverage: