We’ve all heard the phrase, “age is just a number”, which is easy to say, but harder to feel the day after you’ve pushed yourself too hard and getting out of bed feels like a monumental challenge in and of itself. Our aches and pains make it more amazing, or even, awe inspiring, when we see an athlete over 45 still competing at the highest levels of the sporting world.
Here’s a look at our Top Athletes 45 and Over.
Tony Hawk – Professional Skateboarder
Tony Hawk has moved beyond the title of Pro Skater, he is a living legend, who at the age of 48 still attacks the half pipe with the reckless abandon that transformed him into a household name over his 31 year career. Hawk, perhaps most famous for landing the first ever 900 (an aerial in which he would rotate 900 degrees while in the air), posted a video of himself landing the same trick just last month at the age of 48. Skateboarding is a fast sport and Hawk doesn’t show signs of slowing down.
Phil Mickelson – Professional Golfer
The golfer, affectionately known as Lefty, started his pro career back in 1994, but didn’t manage to bring home his first major until he cashed in at the 2004 Masters. Mickelson is only the 3rd left handed player to win a major and since that first win, he’s added 4 more majors to his impressive list of accomplishments. The U.S. Open still remains the one major tournament to elude him, and at the clip he’s still going at, Lefty isn’t likely to settle for his five 2nd place finishes at that tournament.
Butch Johnson – Olympic Archer
Butch Johnson is one of only seven Americans in history to compete in six Olympics and often finds himself three decades older than the majority of his competition. Johnson has never let his advanced age stop him from aiming for gold.
Ian Millar – Show Jumper
With 11 Canadian Show Jumping Championships and over 40 Grand Prix titles to his name, Ian Miller has been a dominate force in the world of Show Jumping, and he isn’t slowing down, having captured a Gold Medal at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto. Miller holds the North American record for most Grand Prix and Derby wins and captured a silver medal at the 2008 Olympic games.
Shaun “Napalm” Palmer – Snowboarder Share this Post
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Shaun Palmer is an extreme sports junky and self-taught snowboarder, who has taken home 6 x-games medals. Not content to stick with one sport, Palmer branched out and found different ways to indulge his love for speed. He took up Mountain Biking and took home a Gold medal as US National Champion. Palmer’s need for speed has never wavered and it’s hard to imagine that age will stand the way of his search for different ways to fulfill that need.
Randy Couture – Ultimate Fighter
Ultimate Fighting is not viewed as a sport in which you can excel as you go up in age, but Randy Couture is one who bucked that trend. Couture, began his athletic career as a Greco Roman wrestler and managed to capture gold at the 1991 Pan Am Games. As an MMA fighter he went 19 and 11 capturing multiple titles at multiple weight classes, including coming out of retirement to defeat Tim Silvia for the UFC Heavyweight Championship via unanimous decision at the age of 43. Although now retired, I’d be willing to bet there aren’t many people who would willingly get on the bad side of “The Natural”.
George Foreman – Professional Boxer
As a professional Boxer, George Foreman made his mark on multiple generations. Originally rising to prominence in the sport in the 1970’s, with epic bouts against the likes of Smoking Joe Frazier and the incomparable Mohamed Ali. Foreman would go on to have an incredible career, capturing multiple titles along the way, but perhaps his most iconic achievement came at the age of 45 when he came out of retirement to knock out Michael Moorer and capture the World Heavyweight Title. At the age of 55 Foreman began training to come out of retirement again, in order to prove that the age of 50 wasn’t a “death sentence”, but eventually changed his mind and stayed retired.
David James – Professional Footballer
David James is one of the best, and longest serving goal keepers in English Football history, sitting fourth on the list of all time Premier League appearances and holding the record for Most Clean Sheets, and representing the nations hopes for Football glory as starting keeper for the Euro 2004 and 2010 World Cup tournaments. His storied career eventually came to an end in 2013 as a player and coach for the Icelandic IBV Vestmannaeyjar.
Taylor Knox – Professional Surfer
Surfer Hall of Fame member Taylor Knox, made a name for himself as the winner of the first ever K2 Big Wave Challenge, where he rode a 52 foot wave. As a child Knox suffered a damaged lumbar vertebra in a skateboarding accident, which threatened to paralyze him, and led to his desire to continue to take risks in his life. He reached the rank of 4th in the world and continues as an active surfer today at the age of 45. Upon his induction into the hall, founder Aaron Pai said that Knox had “influenced an entire generation of surfers.”
John Tavares – NLL Player
No, not that John Tavares, this John Tavares is in fact the 46 year old uncle of the NHL superstar. Tavares, in his own right, is the all-time career leader in all offensive categories for the Buffalo Bandits of the National Lacrosse League. Tavares has been with the team since they played their very first game all the way back in 1992 and is still a presence every time he suits up.
There you have it, 10 athletes who prove that maybe age is just a number, and if you have the skills and the passion to compete, you don’t need to let age slow you down.