PRESTON ESTEP III, PHD
The amount of time, preparation and training that goes into a successful athletic career is colossal.
In order to extend those careers into multiple decades, athletes need a whole lot of training, some very good genes and — of course — a ton of luck.
Here are some of our favorite athletes who have competed well into their primes and beyond.
The Uzbekastani gymnast qualified and competed in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, setting a new record as the oldest gymnast to ever compete at the Olympic Games at the age of 41 (and 2 months). She’s also the only gymnast ever to compete in seven consecutive Olympic Games. Ready for some inspiration? Check out her 2016 Rio highlights.
This ageless slugger’s career spans over 25 years, 8 MLB teams and 7 professional baseball leagues from all around the world. Versatile and enduring, here he is at the age of 48, drilling a homer for the New York Mets. He remains active as a hitting coach for the Lotte Giants of S. Korea.
Frequently regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of soccer, this legend of Juventus Football Club also holds the record for the most appearances for the Italian National Team with 175 games played. In 2016, he became the first goalie to win the prestigious Golden Foot Award, and in 2017 he received the Best FIFA Goalkeeper Award, just in time for his retirement.
One of the greatest female athletes of all time, Navratilova remains the only tennis player, female or male, to hold the #1 spot in both singles & doubles for over 200 weeks. During her career, she captured 18 singles titles and 31 doubles titles, an unprecedented achievement. The Czech-turned-American is widely considered one of the greatest players to ever set foot on the court. Here she is, age 47, taking home the Wimbledon mixed doubles title alongside Leander Paes (another phenom of longevity).
Known as “The Chief”, the 7’0” center played 1611 regular season games across 21 seasons, an NBA record. Parish is known for not only his longevity, but his soft shooting touch, separating him from many post players of his era. Today, he appropriately serves as the Boston Celtics team consultant and mentor for current big men.
The ending is still unwritten for the quarterback who many consider the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). The fierce and dominant Patriot has lead his team to a record 16 division titles and six Super Bowl titles. He’s captured four Super Bowl MVP awards, been selected to 14 pro bowls — among many other achievements — and he’s done it all with extraordinary poise and style.
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