Haile Satayan, 53 – Israeli-Ethiopian marathoner
Hiroshi Hoketsu, 67 – Japanese equestrian
Oksana Chusovitina, 33 – gymnast Germany (formerly Uzbekistan + Russia) (ancient for a gymnast!)
David Zhuang, 44 – American, table tennis
Luan Jujie, 50 – Canadian fencer (formerly, China)
James Tompkins, 43 – Australian rower
John Dane, III - 58 – American, sailing veteran
Iain Murray, 50 – Australian sailor making his Olympic debut
Ian Millar, 61 – Canadian equestrian
Laurie Lever, 60 – Australian equestrian
Richard Johnson, 52 – American archer
Susan Nattrass, 57 – Canadian shooter
Libby Callahan, 56 – American shooter
and we will seek to adapt some of the healthy tactics to help us on our diabetes diet plan. So, let’s start with the first athlete and possibly the best known.
Even though we are only in the first days of the games, one of the members of this group has already earned a silver Olympic medal in her 5th Olympic Games. Her name is Dara Torres and she is 41 years old, as well as being the oldest swimmer who has ever competed in the Olympics.
She first swam for the American team in the Los Angeles Games of 1984. The previous oldest swimmer was silver-medalist, William Robinson, who competed in the 1908 Games, at age 38, in breast-stroke.
As swimming is far more physically rigorous than some of the other sports that these OAO’s are involved in, I decided to give Dara Torres top rank.
Dara has already won 10 Olympic medals (4 of them gold medals).
She broke the first of her swimming records at age 14, and she’s still a force to be reckoned with at 41. In fact, Dara just swam the grueling “anchor leg” of the 4 x 100 meter relay a few days ago — her team trusted her — no just-token position for her!
In November 2007, she broke the American record for the 50 meter freestyle short-course swim. Yes, she’s still making real record-breaking swims!
In her college career, she earned 28 NCAA (National College Athletics Association) titles, the maximum possible. But, Dara’s coaches’ approach to training in those years at the University of Florida, caused her to become bulimic in order to “make weight” and avoid extra practice sessions attached to not “making weight”.
Overcoming this induced eating disorder is still factoring in Dara Torres’ mental focus, as she knows she must eat, and must eat well to keep up her body’s Health. The ‘right food’ is a priority for her now.
She’s 6 feet tall, 149 pounds of muscle and determination.
Finally, all this hard work paid off and in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Dara began winning individual medals, as well as team medals. She earned 3, and decided to retire, for the second time. At 33. She felt she had nothing left to prove. She got on with her life, marrying a second time.
As Dara Torres is the daughter of a Sefardic Jewish father and non-Jewish mother, she officially had to convert to Judaism before she married an Israeli surgeon (Judaism acknowledges the children of all Jewish mothers, but if only the father is Jewish, the children must convert). So, after retiring, she spent time in that pursuit.
The marriage did not last. But now Dar’s dream of becoming a mother is also fulfilled, even late in life. Dara and her new partner, Dr. David Hoffman, MD, have a child together.
She started swimming again while pregnant, in order to help with morning-sickness, and she found herself racing every middle-aged guy in the pool at the time.
So, Dara knew she wanted to swim in this Olympics as the oldest Olympic swimmer ever and she started training again immediately after Tessa’s delivery! Three months later she medaled in the Masters Games with times that were fast enough to qualify her for the Olympics! And, that’s while breast-feeding!!!
She says she’s SO competitive, she needs an outlet for that in her life.
Dara was able to return to world-class sport so quickly, as explained below, which definitely have lessons for each of us.
Dr. Michael Joyner, MD an anesthesiologist at Mayo Clinic says “that the physical capacity of most people is diminished at a rate of about 10 percent per decade after 30 years of age, while that of the extremely fit decreases at a rate of about 3 to 4 percent.” So, remaining active, even if it is just at moderate levels will bring definite benefit.
She regained her edge that quickly because she had that lifetime of physical activity which built a body slow to decline.
Instead of the 65,000 meters she swam weekly in her youth, Dara swims about 25,000 meters a week now, in normal practice sessions. Then she goes for innovative workouts in the Gym, for at least 2 more hours, which are designed to keep her nervous system integrated in a holistic way, and teach it to “fire” in the right sequences. This may forge new therapies for others in need. Then, a 90 minute weight-training session follows about every other day.
All of this emphasis on Health and integration has resulted in ‘Dara Torres’ ability to recover about 10 times faster than other athletes’, says Andy O’Brien, her coach and that of the Florida Panthers hockey team.
Before swimming, Dara Torres goes through a 20 minute warm-up resistance stretching routine with her 2 “stretchers” to elongate her muscles and make them most flexible and capable of more complete bursts-of-speed, in the system designed by Bob Cooley in 1999. She is forging new ground in biomechanics and aging, for all of us.
There’s a video of her demonstrating her resistance-stretching technique, alone, so at least some of it can be done solo. This approach helps protect her muscles from injury, and everyone, regardless of age, should learn to do this before participating in physical activity. Dara does this 5 times a day, at her level.
Dara’s got incredible mental and physical discipline. She persists even though she was diagnosed with asthma in 1992. And as a child of privilege from Beverley Hills, as well as a sought-after spokesperson now, she can afford a retinue which includes a head coach, sprint coach, two “stretchers”, 2 masseuses, a nanny and a chiropractor. Much has been made of Dara’s strict regimen, and the fact that it costs her $100,000 a year to employ the staff who helps her keep her body fit, as they travel with her all over the world. But, she’s actually helping all of us as she helps herself.
I think many of these same techniques are available to us without the high price tag, and with her example, maybe insurance health plans will think more about including these processes and paying for Prevention, instead of paying for Sickness.
Her team-mate on the 1984 gold-medal relay team, Nancy Hogshead-Makar says, “”I think Dara has done a service to all of sports. She’s taken the best of what academic knowledge exists on technique, recovery and nutrition and applied it to herself.” She added, “She deserves credit for staying in an inquiry that the rest of us left.” “
Those who study this topic say Dara Torres is exceptional but not unusual. Even pregnancy does not have to be a barrier to fitness, as 13 Olympians showed in a 1964 study of the Olympic Games new mothers published in the American Medical Association’s Journal in 1972.
As we see, in this crop of OAOs. Instead of just giving-in to the usual time-stealers of job and family (especially when young children are there to care for), life-choices that then prevent a return in Health in mid-age, people will see they can make other choices.
So learning to mark-time by innovative, time-saving, body-sparing physical regimens in the mid-twenties to mid-thirties will be the new goal. Then, when time frees up, in late thirties to late-forties, you can continue being active in middle-age and beyond, at a much better physical level than if you had stopped exercising, like most of us did.
The statistics of the Fair Model show how little physical deterioration there is for active people, until about 70 years old, when it begins, at a much slower pace, than for those who did not remain active.
We’ll speak about these 15 Oldest Active Olympians [OAOs], with great admiration and respect, for they are pushing the boundaries and changing our view of ourselves, as to what is possible. And, just as Baby Boomers are not wandering around in black head-scarves and black, laced-up shoes as of yesteryear, each of us has to find our Path to Health that we hope will lead to personal longevity filled with quality and accomplishment and contribution.
Best to all — Em
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(c)2008 Em http://diabetesdietdialogue.wordpress.com