Spirduso et al. (2005) looked at masters competitors, including rowers, and found there was a marked reduction in both frequency and intensity with which they train. The reasons given were:
1. Maintaining full-time jobs, so less time
2. Have a lifetime of experiences that
mean they place training time and sport
competition within a broader perspective than a 20-year-old.
3. For many people an aggressive training
programme is hard to maintain when
the potential victory that will come out
of that training is not so glamorous. It is
easier to train with the aim of a national
or world placing rather than training for
a win in an age group masters category.
4. Older athletes are more prone to injuries
and take a longer time to rehabilitate
5. Older athletes are less likely to use per-formance-enhancing behaviours.
6. Less likely to view sport as a potential
source of revenue or a way out of an
7. The motivation to train and compete
decreases with age.
8. Ageism – societal attitudes towards
older participants. Expectations that
older people should rest.
The study noted that the recent records of
masters athletes aged 50 – 59 were faster
or almost the same as the best times at the
1896 Olympic Games (except for the 200m
sprint). It should also be highlighted that
the record in the 40km cycling road race
event, the United States record for men aged
60 to 69 is only 14 per cent lower than the US
“This phenomenal maintenance of function
occurs in events such as cycling, running,
swimming and rowing sports in which the
systems most resistant to aging – aerobic,
endurance and strategy – are predominant.”
Fig 1. Olympic rowers 35 years of age and older
Fig 2. Percentage of total Olympic rowers 35 years of age or older
1. Does not include coxswains as physicality is used as one of the main indicators.
2. Age calculated by year athlete born, not age at Olympic Games.
3. Using 35 years of age and older is a guide based on current athlete ages.