Have you written off your dreams because you think you are too old?
Think about this, more and more Olympic athletes are over 30 and some over 40. The 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing China has more athletes over 30 participating than any time in history. Do you realize how difficult it is to make the Olympic team in a country with a lot of athletes trying to get on the team and where there are many young athletes competing for the positions?
Dara Torres, 41-year-old swimmer for the USA, just got two Silver medals and she out swam her much younger competitor during the last leg of the relay. She has successfully balanced the rigorous training needed with being the mother of a 3-year-old daughter.
Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus, competing in the women’s single skull rowing, brings home a bronze medal and she is 36. This is her 4th Olympics, she has won three gold’s and one silver in this event in those efforts proving she has remained in top shape for many years.
Romania’s Constantina Tomescu is 38 and just won the gold in the women’s marathon. In fact at the halfway point she was in 26th place before she gathered speed to end up finishing almost two and a half minutes ahead of the second place finisher. She finished 20th in the 2004 Olympics but has improved steadily in the last four years as she has gotten older in age.
Oksana Chusovitina the 33 year old German gymnast received a silver medal on the vault. My two daughters were both involved in competitive gymnastics, I know how physicaly brutal this sport is. She has stated that if she is able to qualify for the next Olympics she will, she will be 37. She said, “if I can I’ll do a sixth Olympics.” Is she giving up on what she loves? She says, “I don’t feel 33, I feel 18.” She not only made the German team, she took 3rd place amongst all competitors, most of which are about 16 years old!
Jason Lezek, the US swimmer who helped Michael Phelps win the two team relays, is 32 swimming against athletes 10 to 15 years younger. He has shown that he can still compete in finals in the Olympics as well as other international events.
The ability of athletes continuing to compete at such a high level as they age can be attributed to several factors; more financial support for athletes, better sports medicine, more understanding about diet, but mental perspective and determination is at the foundation of it all. It definitely can become more difficult physically to train as a person gets older and the drive to continue must be strong. But the decisions you make based on your perceptions are the determining factor to what you will motivate yourself to do.
These older athletes are redefining what is possible as we get older. Their success shows what we are capable of when we have the vision, motivation and determination. More importantly is shows that more people are able to see themselves in this role as they continue to get older. When you can see something as possible you are more likely to find the ways to bring it about.
The demise of ones abilities begins with their perception of what is possible and not possible. So often people fall into the mental trap of thinking they are too old for something or that it is not appropriate for an older person. This is just not the case in all instances. Your physical abilities and mental drive is governed by your perceptions of what is possible, what you ‘should’ be doing and many times the influence of others.
This concept does not just apply to sports, any endeavor that you have stopped allowing yourself to see as possible is not necessarily dead, unless you condemn it in your mind. Take time to assess your deep wants and desires and rather than staying with restrictive perceptions, take a fresh look at it. You will discover that many times it is your own mental decisions that have stopped your progress and squelched your dreams, not your actual abilities.
Harland (Colonel) Sanders did not even start franchising his chicken until he was 65 years old, you may have heard of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
What is really possible for you ‘if’ you were to follow your dreams without telling yourself no?
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