Living Legends: Still Going Strong at 40
Having won three Ironman 70.3 races this year, Craig’s attention is now set on the Ironman 70.3 World Championships and the Ironman World Championship later this year. This is all the more remarkable considering Crowie turned 40 in June. As a professional athlete and as a genuine sports fan, Craig has always looked towards top performing athletes for inspiration, and not just in triathlon. To celebrate Craig turning 40 this year, we’ll share some exceptional athletes aged 40 and above who are still at the top of their games, proving that you’re never too old.
Before we take a look at some other inspirational athletes Craig’s vintage, we need to start with Hawaiian Ironman Dave Scott. Dave Scott is an inspiration for many including Craig. Dave no longer competes professionally, but still trains as if he does. As the first ever six-time Ironman World Champion and the first in our list of living legends, Dave didn’t achieved his success through talent alone, but with hard work, an unbreakable determination, and an intense will to win. He is known as one of the first to pioneer the sport of Ironman and triathlon, Scott won 3 Ironman World Championships in a row. Die hard fans will remember the gruelling battles between himself and another six-time champion, Mark Allen. What’s even more impressive was Scott’s performance in the 1994 Ironman World Championships. At 40 years of age, Scott finished second against much more fancied, younger competitors. Two years after he would finish fifth. To this day, Dave is still heavily involved in the Ironman sport, regularly training with Craig and helping him to reach higher and higher plateaus.
A record 11 time ASP World Champion with 5 straight titles from 1994-98, Kelly Slater is undisputedly surfing’s most successful champion ever. Like Craig, Kelly Slater does some of his best work in Hawaii. The American has been at the summit of the sport for well over a decade and is both the youngest and oldest to be crowned champion, winning his first title at just 20 and his latest at 39. In June at the Volcom Fiji Pro, Slater recorded a perfect 20 out of 20 score becoming the fourth person in history to do so. Slater turned 40 last year and is still going as strong as ever, placing 2nd in the world rankings behind Australian Joel Parkinson. He’s looking to do one better this year as he currently sits at 1st place at just over halfway through the tour.
He’s one of the greatest long distance runners ever, having won two Olympic gold medals in the 10,000 metres, four World Championship titles, and set 27 world records. Thanks to his trademark smile, Gebrselassie is immensely popular, not only in his native Ethiopia, but around the world. Like all the great champions in their respective fields, Gebrselassie has continually found success for over 2 decades, both track running and marathon, winning the Berlin Marathon four times straight and the Dubai Marathon three times in a row. Gebrselassie turned 40 in April, shortly after winning the Vienna Half Marathon, his third consecutive win at the venue. He also placed third in July at the Manchester 10km in a stacked field. If these recent results are anything to go by, Gebrselassie has many years left. Interesting fact: Craig stayed in the same room as Gebrselassie in Dubai, a week after his world record attempt. The treadmill in the room is still recovering.
Considered as one of Australia’s best ever goalkeepers, Mark Schwarzer has made a lasting impact wherever he has played. Aussies will know Mark Schwarzer best as the man who helped Australia qualify for the 2006 World Cup, making two clutch saves in that penalty shootout against Uruguay. Schwarzer made his Premier League debut for Bradford City in 1996 but joined Middlesbrough in 1997, winning the 2004 League Cup final and reaching a UEFA Cup Final. He would join Fulham in 2008 and play a key role in the team’s impressive performances, helping them achieve a 7th place finish and a visit to the Europa League Final during his tenure. Like Crowie, the Australian keeper is also 40 this year and doesn’t look to be slowing down at all. With a desire to be at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Schwarzer has recently signed a 1 year deal with Chelsea.
Moving from one goalie to another, Marin Brodeur has pretty much won all ice hockey has to offer. He has currently spent his entire career with the New Jersey Devils in the NHL, having played 21 seasons so far, in which he has won three Stanley Cup championships, making it to the playoffs in all seasons but three, as well as winning multiple personal accolades and achieving a number of records. Brodeur is so good, particularly at puck handling, the “Brodeur Rule” was introduced by the league, changing where goalies were allowed to handle the puck outside of the goal crease. The NHL’s all-time wins leader turned 40 last year and is still one his team’s key figures, helping them make it to the Stanley Cup Final. The Devils missed out on a playoff berth this season but will be looking to make another run at it next season. Even at his age many are still expecting great things from Martin Brodeur.
Mariano Rivera, like Craig, aspired to be a professional soccer player. Instead, he became one of baseball’s greatest ever closers. A five-time World Series champion, Rivera currently holds MLB records in most saves (644) and games finished (940). Not bad for a player who never had any formal training in pitching and only volunteered to become his amateur team’s pitcher because their last one was so bad. Rivera has been a dominant reliever throughout his career thanks to his consistent pitching and nerves of steel in crunch games – he holds the record for lowest earned run average (ERA) of 0.70 and most saves with 42. At the age of 43 it looks like Rivera will finally hang it up and retire at the end of this season. Considering everything he has achieved, it may not be long until he becomes an MLB Hall of Famer.
Born 3 months earlier than Craig, Jason Kidd has recently had a career change – from NBA point guard to NBA coach. Kidd has had an illustrious career, winning an NBA championship with the Dallas Mavericks, winning two Olympic gold medals, and retiring second all-time in the NBA in both assists and steals, as well as ranking third all-time with 107 career triple-doubles. Kidd is considered to be one of the game’s best passing and rebounding guards making accurate passes and making his team better in crunch situations. After retiring at the end of the 2012-2013 NBA season, Kidd was named head coach of the Brooklyn Nets despite having no prior experience. It will be interesting to see whether his on-court prowess and knowledge as an elite point guard will translate to coaching an NBA team hungry for immediate success.
So, what’s in store for Craig? The stage is set. He’s the only man to hold both the Ironman 70.3 and Ironman World Championship in the same year. At 40, he’ll be the oldest in the group of favourites. There’s no doubt he’ll bring with him a tremendous amount of experience and momentum from his three straight wins. So, after a positive start to the year, can he do it again? We’ll soon find out. Who else have we missed? Tell us about someone that is still going strong and inspires you in the Your Zone section.