We’ve been struggling to write this without sounding overwhelmingly geeky and don’t think its working. So, let’s just do this:
Partial data from the 2011 Games (in this case,
women ages 40-44 who finished in the top 1000) affords an interesting outlook on performance by age. Would that all data were available. What is most obvious is that numbers of participants appears to decline with age. There were a lot more 40 year olds in the top 1000 than there were women aged 41-44. This may reflect a number of different things.
- Fewer women participate in sports in general as they enter their 40s.
- There are fewer women participating in this sort of activity.
- There may be more attrition due to injuries
- People mellow out in terms of giving that much of a $hit after age 40 about competing.
It does look like the 40 year olds did better than the rest. The top three 40 year old performers placed 23rd, 33rd and 82nd overall while the top three 41 year olds placed 463rd, 509th and 520th. That is a huge drop. Things were a little better for the top 42 year olds at 255th, 309th and 476th overall. 43 year olds gained a little more ground placing 220th, 230th and 438th and then the 44 year olds dumped it placing 387th, 710th and 963rd. Studies of trained athletes by age show a modest decline in performance after age 40 followed by pretty good maintenance until age 70 when there is another larger drop. Good news is that there’s no reason why we can’t continue to enjoy beating ourselves into the ground. Give it some more thought at 70, and don’t take a drop in performance around that age personally. Its not you.