A common stereotype says athletic achievement in sports can only come from the young. The following late-blooming athletes prove that assumption wrong. If you want inspiration to start or keep exercising, just take a look at my Top 5 countdown of exceptional athletes over age fifty—many of whom began working out late in life.

5. Robert Marchand

Robert Marchand spent his adult years working in a broad range of jobs including fireman, lumberjack, and shoe salesman. He decided to focus on cycling at age 67, training seriously and participating in races.

Marchand is best known for setting the +100-year-old cycling record at 102 years of age—covering 16.7 miles in one hour. He holds another plus-100 cycling record for riding 62 miles (100 kilometres) in 4 hours, 17 minutes and 27 seconds.


4. Diana Nyad

Long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad decided to retire from swimming at age 29.

But at age 60, she changed her mind and decided to “unretire.”

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Her goal was to be the first person–male or female– to ever complete a swim from Cuba to Florida without using a shark cage, a goal she failed to meet when she was 29. It took her four years of practice and planning, as well as multiple attempts during jelly fish attacks, but Diana Nyad successfully made the Cuba to Florida swim at 64 years old.

3. Fauja Singh

Fauja Singh started running at 84 years old to help him deal with the death of his wife and son. A British Sikh who runs in a turban, Fauja Singh  ran his first marathon at age 89, and was the first 100-year-old to complete a marathon.

2. Madonna Buder

Madonna Buder is often referred to as the “Iron Nun” which is a reference to her participation in the physically demanding Ironman competitions and the fact that she is a nun at the Sisters for Christian Community convent.

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Buder didn’t start training until she was 48 years old. She completed her first triathlon at 52 years old, and her first Ironman at 55. In 2012, she became the oldest woman to complete a demanding Ironman race at 82 years old.

1. Ray Moon

Ray Moon 80-year-old bodybuilderWhen Ray Moon became a body builder in his seventies he was not particularly fit.

In fact, Moon had experienced many health setbacks including a heart attack before he started weight training, but has since won several Australian amateur competitions.

Now, at 83, thanks to discipline and passion, he holds the Guinness World Record as the world’s oldest competing body builder.

To learn more about late-in-life achievement: check out the book Successful Late Bloomers.

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