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SPORT SPECIFIC VETERANS


STAYING ACTIVE F


or many athletes today, reaching the age of 25 no longer means coming to the end of their ca- reer. More often, we’re seeing


professional athletes performing well into their 40s and 50s. Take Michael Schumacher, for example,


who has returned to the Formula 1 race- track from retirement at the age of 42, or Martina Navratilova, who was 49 when she retired from tennis in 2006, after winning the mixed doubles title in the US Open and reaching the quarter-finals of the Wimbledon women’s doubles. We’re also seeing a trend for Masters competi- tions such as the European Golf Seniors


Above and below: AC Milan FC is renowned for the longevity of its players’ careers – Paolo Maldini retired aged 41


Tour, which is exclusively aimed at elite athletes over the age of 50. In order to maintain the fitness of their


youth, these athletes must take into consideration a number of factors that affect their training regime. We’re told that lean muscle peaks at the age of 25, and that the heart and lungs reach their apex during our 30s. Research has shown that over-use injuries are the most com- mon challenge for veteran athletes; the incidence of exertion-related cardiovas- cular events is also greater among older athletes, especially men. So what do athletes need to do to pre-


vent their muscles losing their flexibility, bones becoming more brittle and cells not processing oxygen as well? According to a number of studies, training programmes for senior athletes should incorporate a significant level of strength and power training in order to combat muscle degen- eration and, in turn, prevent injury. However, it’s also important that


training is not as concentrated or highly intensive as is commonly the case among younger athletes, and that sufficient re- covery time is given between sessions. Furthermore, training regimes must be individually tailored and focus on the predominant energy pathways and per- formance requirements for a given sport.


Elite veterans Today, there’s a growing number of pro- fessional veteran athletes competing


Issue 3 2011 © cybertrek 2011


As active ageing becomes increasingly common among the general population, so too does the success of veteran athletes. Kirstyn MacRandal reports on their specific sports conditioning requirements


at elite tournaments – athletes such as Olympic rower Greg Searle (see SM Q4 2010, p72), Bernhard Langer from the European Golf Senior Tour and even members of AC Milan Football Club. How have these athletes adapted their train- ing regimes to combat the common issues associated with the passage of time and still maintain optimum performance to compete against younger athletes? Greg Searle won Olympic Gold in the


1992 Games in Barcelona, in the coxed pair with his brother Jonny. Now aged 39, he has come out of a 10-year retire- ment in a bid to win a second gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics. With his second attempt just one year away, Searle has adapted his training regime from that of 1992 to accommodate the effect of time on his body. “It used to be ‘no pain, no gain’, whereas now it’s a slow building of physiology over time with fewer explosive sessions,” he ex- plains. This helps lower the risk of injury while still building on performance. Ad- ditionally, Searle focuses more heavily on


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