When bringing down the curtain on a glorious career there must always be the doubt of whether it’s the right time to go. Some top names in the football world will be bowing out in the next few weeks after nearly two decades of plying their trade on the football field.
Beckham (38), Scholes (38), Carragher (35) will all be calling time of their highly decorated and successful careers - and all are going at a time of their choosing. All three could probably have squeezed another year or maybe more for their team but opted to go out while still playing at the top.
Their ages prove that just because an athlete turns 30, it does not inevitably mean their best day are behind them. Many clubs and national team managers are far too keen to ditch players just because they are in their fourth decade.
As the everlasting Ryan Giggs has proved, if you look after yourself you can still do the business in the Premier League at the age of 39. And he’ll still be playing on past his 40th birthday. Of course, players like Giggs are a rarity - but it doesn’t mean that just because you are 30+ you can’t compete at the highest level (unless of course you’ve become a bit of an injury-ridden crock like the unfortunate Michael Owen!)
If we look at other sports, the ‘Little Master’ Sachin Tendulkar is now a quadragenerian and continues at the top level of Test cricket. In 2008, at the age of 35, Haile Gebrselassie won the Berlin Marathon with a world record time of 2:03:59, breaking his own world record by 27 seconds. The record stood for three years. Even in the world of sprinting, Linford Christie ran 9.96 s in the Olympic final in Barcelona, and at 32 years old became the oldest Olympic 100m champion by four years.
So from someone who will be joining the 40 club later this year (and will be hoping for a PB in next year’s London Marathon - admittedly after my poor showing in 2010 that won’t be difficult), I want to ring out a call to all those thinking that turning 30 means your best days are behind you, and 40 means you have well and truly had it.
The London Marathon provides us with plenty of examples of people who give it a go, many for the first time, and many for whom their 40th birthday seems about as far away as Sir Alex Ferguson making his managerial debut for East Stirling. So don’t bring down the curtain on your own ambitions because of age. As a wise old sage once said to me: ‘Age is but a number so make the numbers add up for you.’
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