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Sports Stars Over 40 Who Still Have a Long Way to Go

LISTICLE | 02/22/2022
Kelly Slater surft durch eine der gefährlichsten Surfwellen der Welt - die Banzai Pipeline auf Hawaii
Author:
Martin Jahns

Most professional sports careers come to an end in their mid-30s. Tom Brady recently demonstrated until the end of his career in the NFL that you can still be among the best in your mid-40s. But he's not the only one. We feature a newly crowned table tennis world champion at 58, a professional soccer player who has been kicking for five decades, and an Olympic skater who was already a video game character when his current opponents weren't even born yet. These athletes from 40 to 64 show: Age does not protect against class.

The old man and the sea: Kelly Slater

Kelly Slater surft durch eine der gefährlichsten Surfwellen der Welt - die Banzai Pipeline auf Hawaii

Kelly Slater is the most successful of all surfers, he has just won the prestigious Pipeline Pro in Hawaii again - at the age of 50. Now he is faced with the big question: Continue and get his 12th world championship title - or yet slowly retire?

Those who know Slater are sure: He keeps surfing. Surfing is his life. His surfing career flawless and remarkable. In 1992, the 50-year-old got his first record: as the youngest world champion in surfing. Maybe - who knows - he will also get the record: Oldest world champion in surfing. Fingers crossed!

Bernhard Langer: Mr. Consistency hurries from victory to victory at 64

Turned pro in 1972, still winning in 2022. Bernhard Langer is amazing.

Posted by PGA TOUR Champions on Monday, February 21, 2022

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At 63, German Bernhard Langer was the oldest golfer in history to secure a starting spot at the legendary Masters at the end of 2020 - and Langer even made the cut at the tournament, which he had already won in 1985 and 1993. Langer also took part in the Masters again in 2021. Langer has actually been playing in the Champions Tour, the over-50 tournament series in professional golf, since 2007, and has already earned more than $30 million in prize money with 43 tournament victories there alone. Two victories separate Langer there only from the eternal tournament victory record.

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Ni Xia Lian: World Championship medal at 58

Highlights: Ni Xia Lian & Sarah De Nutte Medal At World Championships Finals!

A World Championships Finals medalist at 5️⃣8️⃣ years old! 🇱🇺 Ni Xia Lian & Sarah De Nutte d. Manika Batra/Archana Kamath 3-0 in the women's doubles QFs 👏 🍿 Watch LIVE ➡️ WTT app or WorldTableTennis.com/livevideo #Houston2021 #ITTFWorlds2021 #WTT Harris County - Houston Sports Authority International Table Tennis Federation Ni Xia Lian

Posted by World Table Tennis on Saturday, November 27, 2021

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At 57, Ni Xia Lian was the oldest female table tennis player in history at the Tokyo Olympics. "We can't fight against nature. I know my weaknesses - I'm short [1.57m], I don't have that much spin, I can't play the sport more athletically. But I have my advantages. I love the game and I will never give up," she said of her aspirations at the Games, where she went without a medal.

That the Chinese-born player, who moved to Europe in 1989 and has since played for Luxembourg, is still one of the best at the plate, she proved a few months later at the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships in November. There, she sensationally took bronze in doubles at the age of 58. It was her first World Championship medal since the 1985 World Championships in Gothenburg. At the 1983 World Cup in Tokyo, she even won twice gold and once bronze.

Kazuyoshi Miura: Five decades of professional soccer

LIVING LEGEND. KING. ICON. 🇯🇵 🤴 The oldest active footballer on the planet 🤩 Kazuyoshi Miura celebrates his 54th birthday today 🎂 🎉 🎈

Posted by Asian Football Confederation on Thursday, February 25, 2021

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At 54 years old now, Japan's Kazuyoshi Miura has accomplished something that no professional footballer before him has: Miura's professional career now spans five decades, from the 1980s to the 2020s. As a 15-year-old, he left Japan for Brazil in 1982 to make the leap to professional. After stations, among others, at FC Genoa in Italy or Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia and 89 international matches, he returned to Japan in 1999 - and still kicks there as a professional.

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On September 23, 2020, the striker became the oldest kicker in the world to play in a match in a country's top division. He is currently on loan from Yokohama FC to the Suzuka Point Getters. He is still not thinking about quitting: "I want to continue playing seriously even at 60, in a real league. I want to be a lifelong footballer."

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Pravin Tambe: Debut at 41 - India films career of routine cricketer

At 50, Pravin Tambe is considered the oldest active professional cricketer in the world. Curiously, the Indian-born player made his debut in the Indian Premier League - the best cricket league in the world - at the age of 41, when most professionals have long since ended their careers. He currently plays for the Trinbago Knight Riders in the Caribbean Premier League. Meanwhile, in India, filming has been underway since the end of 2021 on a feature film based on Tambe's career.

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Claudia Pechstein: At almost 50 at her 8th Olympic Games

Die Olympischen Winterspiele in #Beijing2022 sind eröffnet 🔥! Es war ein Gänsehaut-Moment, die 🇩🇪 Fahne an der Seite...

Posted by Claudia Pechstein on Friday, February 4, 2022

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When Claudia Pechstein competed in her first Olympic Games in Albertville in 1992, the speed skating competitions were still held outdoors. In 2022, the Berlin-based athlete competed at the Olympics for the eighth time - at the age of 49. Only ski jumper Noriaki Kasai took part in as many Winter Games. To be sure, Pechstein was unable to add another Olympic career medal to her nine. But the fact that she still runs with almost 50 in the extended world's top is impressive.

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Together with bobsled pilot Francesco Friedrich, she was flag bearer of the German Olympic team. In 2017, she also advanced to the oldest World Cup winner in speed skating history at the age of 45. And: in Germany, Pechstein is still unchallenged. At the German championships in the fall of 2021, Pechstein won her 40th and 41st national championships.

Rune Glifberg: Olympic premiere at 46

Working with @woodwood_official on my personalized Olympic kit, was a real pleasure. Great people, great designs and fit made my Olympic experience that much more unforgettable. Here’s a video about the kit, my thoughts on the Olympics and my life as a skateboarder. Big thanks to everyone involved🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🇩🇰🇯🇵

Posted by Rune Glifberg on Monday, August 23, 2021

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Rune Glifberg was already a virtual skater in the Tony Hawk video games when his current opponents were not even born. The Dane has been a pro skater since 1992, clearing medals at the X Games as early as the mid-nineties. But perhaps his greatest performance came in Tokyo at the age of 46: Glifberg opened the Park Competition at the Olympic premiere of his sport. In addition to his skating premiere - only recently was "The Danish Destroyer" as a starter at an event organized by Tony Hawk in California, Glifberg is active as an architect and event organizer.

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By the way, Glifberg was not the only 46-year-old skater in Tokyo: South African Dallas Oberholzer was just a few months younger than him. Oberholzer can also look back on an eventful career: he was once, among other things, Janet Jackson's chauffeur.

 

Serena Williams: The greatest among active tennis players cracks 40

Even at 40 years Serena Williams dream lives on: A Grand Slam title is still missing the U.S. American to draw level with the 24 titles of the eternal record winner Margaret Court. In 2021, injuries repeatedly threw a spanner in the works for Williams. Because of the few tournaments played, she has now even fallen out of the top 100 of the WTA rankings.

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But that she still has what it takes to great triumphs, she showed with her semi-final appearances at the Australian Open 2021 and the US Open 2020. That Williams has comeback qualities, she showed during her comeback after her break from professional sports during her pregnancy in 2017. In the two following years, the American made it to no less than four Grand Slam finals.

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Author:
Martin Jahns
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