Tom Eaton on Sport, Life and the Universe

Fit for purpose


Fit for purpose

The quick and the deadish

Who wants to live forever?

Martin Welz was enthused. Just think of it, he said: thousands and thousands of elderly people running, jumping and hurling shot-puts around. I was intrigued. Was there some sort of viral outbreak that was causing this behaviour among our senior citizens? How was it spread? Did they have to bite each other on the face, or could it be transmitted simply by re-using teabags?

On the contrary, explained the editor, they do it for the love of sport, for the pleasure of competition, and for the betterment of their bodies and minds. Those who do it best compete at the biennial World Masters Athletics Championships, open to all athletes older than 35 and younger than Methuselah, and espousing the values that the Olympics long ago sold out to highest bidding oligarch. Some competitors are former track stars who have refused to go gentle into that good night and instead are raging against the dying of the floodlights. Others are simply people who have decided to turn their autumn years into an Indian summer and who have taken up athletics deep in their 60s and 70s only to discover that they are bloody good at it.

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