2020: THE MEN
25. Armand "Army" Matern (93)
Sports have been a lifelong staple for Utah native Armand “Army” Matern (93). He played football and basketball competitively in high school and hockey year-round as a boy. After serving in the Navy for several years, Matern taught and coached high school varsity sports for 35 years.
After retiring, Matern took up racquetball and pickleball where he continues to excel. He won over 7 National Masters’ tournaments in his 70’s and has played at the Huntsman World Senior Games for 25 years. At last year’s Games, Matern won gold medals in racquetball doubles and singles 90-94 age group. He also won gold medals in pickleball mixed doubles and singles and a silver in the men’s doubles. He is ranked number 2 by USA Racquetball for players over 90.
When Matern was asked his greatest accomplishment in life, he quickly replied that he has been married for 68 years and has 5 children, 35 grand kids, and 36 great grand kids and 2 great-grand kids on the way.
24. Eez Eldin Bahder (75)
Eez Eldin Bahder is one step away from setting the Guinness World Record GWR for being the oldest professional footballer. He is now 75 years old and hails from Egypt. We thank Claire Schofield from the Edinburgh Evening News in Scotland for her information on Bahder.
He started playing football in the streets of Cairo at six years old and dreamed of playing professionally. Bahder continued to dream as he held a career in civil engineering and land cultivation, and was accepted into the “October 6” third division football club. He trains regularly with a personal trainer, who said that Bahder’s motivation to succeed outweighs the challenge of his advancing age. When asked by ESPN about it, Bahder said, “For me, it is not just about being the oldest player. I want to be the oldest player, who also plays well.” To beat the GWR, Bahder must play in two 90-minute matches.
According to “The Guardian” YouTube channel, Bahder scored a penalty in the first of the two matches in March 2020 and played on an injury for the entire 90 minutes. The world awaits the next opportunity for him to play.
23. Fauja Singh (109)
A life-long farmer in India, Fauja Singh (now 109 years old) decided to begin marathon training in his 80’s following a triple family tragedy in a short space of time (Details can be found in his biography titled “Turbaned Tornado.”)
The first time he trained for a marathon, it taught him to focus and have patience through the small incremental successes he enjoyed. Of note, Singh did not walk until he was 5 years old due to weak legs, for which he was often teased. He never ran a marathon until he turned 89 when Singh demolished the previous world marathon record in his age group by 58 minutes, finishing in 6 hours and 54 minutes, and he has subsequently run 8 more marathons! He is the only person on record to have run a marathon above the age of 100.
Just as impressive as his physical feats is Singh’s spirit. Fauja and four others (all over the age of 70) founded “Sikhs in the City” running club, which focuses on running marathons throughout the world to raise money for local charities. His initial motivation for running may have been his physical well-being, but it has become an emotional and spiritual support as well. Long runs have brought him closer to God and the wonders of His creations. Singh feels blessed to be able to sustain a fitness level for a decade that many aspire to reach just once.
22. Frank Winters (63)
“Life is a gift, squeeze everything you can out of it,” says sixty-three-year-old Frank Winters of Susanville, CA.
Though he cycles year-round, about 250 miles per week on mountain dirt roads, he enjoys supporting his physical training with spiritual aspects. Listening to the Bible while doing daily flexibility, core strength, and riding the indoor trainer helps motivate him to keep reaching new heights. In 2016, Winters won the USAC National Mountain Bike Championship, and since then, he pursues further excellence by entering more races each year. In 2019, Winters won Overall Champion in both the road and mountain biking competitions at the Huntsman World Senior Games. He also competed in the Trans Northern California Mountain Bike race, which covers 400 miles with 40,000 feet of climbing from the Nevada border to the Pacific Ocean. He also completed The Agony Ride, which is a 24-hour test of how far you can go; Winters finished 351 miles.
This year, since typical races are cancelled, he has been going for STRAVA King of Mountain times and is enjoying the new challenge. Just as important as Winters’ competitive spirit, he is a very humble man, slow to tell of his accomplishments and quick to serve.
21. Glenn Vanderlinde (90)
Ninety-year-old Glenn Vanderlinde played football and ran track in high school and college. Vanderlinde lived 7 miles from school and enjoyed riding his bike and running to and from, multiple times daily.
He subsequently taught physical education for 35 years. When Vanderlinde’s father passed away, Glenn started jogging, which led to 18 marathons and many shorter races along the way. After retiring, cycling replaced running: he has completed about 50 century rides and 3 double centuries, and he used to average about 200 miles a week. Vanderlinde has slowed down some as he is now 90 years old, but he continues to ride, and he has not aged passively.
He and his wife have competed at the Huntsman World Senior Games for 19 years and 17 years respectively. Just last year, Glenn won the gold cycling medal at the Games in all four cycling events for his age level.
Photos: USA Badminton
20. Mathew Fogarty (63)
Dr. Mathew Fogarty is a sixty-three-year-old mens and mixed doubles badminton player from the Los Angeles, CA area. He learned the game at three years old.
Fogarty has won four US national titles in doubles, three medals in the Pan American Games, and he has competed in the world championships for badminton numerous times, most recently in 2019. He told Nick Zaccardi from NBCSports that he won’t stop playing until he no longer qualifies, even though his partners are often half his age. Most badminton players’ careers last until their mid-20s, but he has remained competitive internationally much longer than that. He is an inspiration to so many who play the sport.
In an interview with Abhijeet Kulkarni of scroll.in, Fogarty said he plays “...to prove a point to the people in US badminton that if you are good enough then you can play at any age and show the world that badminton is one of the healthiest sports to play.” He continues to train almost every day, in addition to long working hours as a psychiatrist.
19. Stanislaw Kowalski (110)
The oldest living man in Poland is now 110 years old. Mr. Stanislaw Kowalski was born in the horse district and his only constant physical activity was commuting to work on a bike or walking.
When he turned 92, he chose to begin running over six miles per day. Kowalski entered the world of track and field at age 104, according to a Facebook post written by Jerzy Krauze. According to Krauze, Kowalski is likely the oldest athlete in the world to have taken part in the official 60 meter, 100 meter, disc throw, and shot put. He was the European Masters Indoor Champion in the 100+ category for the 60M, shot put, and discus throw in 2015. That same year, he ran the 100 meters in 34.50 seconds at the age of 105. The World Masters Athletics created the M105 division just for Kowalski, so since 2015, he has the world record in every event in which he has competed.
Mr Kowalski no longer competes, but according to Boredom Spieth from “theversed.com,” Kowalski’s training regimen remains doing “everything I want,” “never going to the doctors,” and "not eating at night". A positive attitude and a sense of humor also helps Kowalski stay young.
18. Arnold Schwarzenegger (72)
Arnold Schwarzenegger, famously known as “The Terminator” and later “The Governator,” is now a healthy 72 years old.
At the age of 15, he started lifting weights, and life was never the same again. Schwarzenegger won Mr. Universe at age 20, and he became the youngest Mr. Olympia at age 23 (a record that still stands). He won the title of Mr. Olympia a total of 7 times, and after his win in 1980, he retired from bodybuilding competition. Schwarzenegger is well-known for his charisma, and this led to a lifelong career as an actor (both as an action hero and in comedies) and as California’s governor from 2003-2011. Fitness and heavy weight training have played a major role throughout his life, and he continues to exercise daily. Only this year has he cut back on his muscle-building workouts, but he rides his bicycle each day and includes more stretching.
In a recent interview featured on “Real Celebrities” YouTube video, Schwarzenegger talked about how he is staying fit even during COVID-19 quarantine. He said, “...just as long as you do something everyday. That is the important thing...Let’s stay strong. Let’s stay fit. Let’s train at home. Hasta la vista!”
17. Lee Sheftel (74)
When elite climber Lee Sheftel (74) approached the age of 70, he decided to do something no one else his age had ever done: climb the entire Grand Teton Range of 10 peaks in a single push. After months of training hikes, many of which were 14,000 foot peaks, he successfully accomplished this feat.
The Grand Traverse of the Tetons is approximately 17.9 miles long with over 12,000 feet of elevation gain requiring advanced climbing and hiking skills, and it took over 3 days to complete. He also has climbed 14a and many 13c’s and d’s, in addition to many long routes in Yosemite and the Black Canyon. At the age of 72, he hiked the Four Pass Loop in the Snowmass Wilderness in one day. This is 27-miles long and includes approximately 8,000 feet of elevation gain.
Sheftel didn’t discover rock climbing as his passion until the age of 33, but he always enjoyed athletics while growing up. He played baseball, football, and ran track in high school, and he enjoyed intramural football and softball in college. Following graduation, he learned to love wilderness hiking, camping, and survival. Whatever the activity, this athlete has a love of the outdoors and will stay active for years to come!
16. Sylvester Stallone (75)
Arguably one of the greatest action heroes of all time is Sylvester “Sly” Stallone, now 75 years old.
One peak of performance was the 1980s with Rocky and Rambo film franchises. According to Russ Howe from medium.com, Stallone says, “Man, back in those days I would do literally anything and everything to burn more fat...I would go for long morning cardio which usually consisted of jogging or swimming, then do about 18 rounds of sparring in the ring for Rocky, then I’d hit the gym for about two hours.” Decades later, Stallone is still one of the most dedicated athletes in Hollywood and continues to release movies showcasing his fantastic build.
According to Jacked Gorilla, “when Stallone is training for movies, he hits the gym 6 days a week, training hard twice a day and focusing on forearms, traps, and shoulders. Moreover, Sly’s intense training regimen has a ‘full body’ approach with strenuous exercises including dead lifts and squats, and minimal rests between the sets...He focuses on working out different parts of his body in the morning and in the afternoons.”
15. C. Arturo Travaini (57)
Italian swimmer Arturo Travaini, is no stranger to the medal podium. He’s so much a regular he could conceivably make it his permanent address. He is a multi-time world record holder and many time European record breaker as well.
According to the Swim4Life online magazine, Italian version, Arturo says, “My workouts do not involve long extreme load cycles with few goals, but simply a certain continuity without excessive loads, swimming regularly every day, but for only 50 minutes. I prefer quality to quantity, technique and intensity rather than quantity.”
He adds, “My secret is to swim a little but well and have fun.”
Which sounds like good advice for all of us.
14. Mike O'Hearn (51)
It’s hard to believe that Mike O’Hearn, known as “The Titan”, is 51 years old. But this four-time Mr. Universe is one of the fittest guys around, regardless of how many trips he’s made around the sun.
When asked how he has maintained his fitness and physique, he explains that that consistency has been the key. He’s quick to point out that he’s been working on it for more than 40 years, 37 of which he's spent on the bodybuilding stage. But you won’t recognize him from his bodybuilding competitions alone. He’s been a star of both iterations of the popular American television show "American Gladiators", the only one to star in both.
According to his Instagram account, Mike says, “It mattered more to train when I was sad, depressed, no money, or life just knocked me down. It’s more important to train at that point than any other time. I was 9 years old when I understood this." We expect to see Mike on the stage and on the screen for a long time to come.
13. Steve Heck (70)
Steve Heck, a 70-year-old who hails from Prairieville, LA, has been active all his life. Starting at the age of six when he learned to swim, he progressed to AAU swim competition at age eleven, and then moved on to high school and Georgia Tech college teams.
A few years later, Steve switched to running road races for 20 years. However, he returned to his first love of swimming at the age of 42 and hasn’t looked back. Heck is indeed grateful for the rich health he enjoys, but is equally grateful for the bounty of friends from around the world that he has made through training and competing. Competing has taken him to 24 US states, and he continues to be at the top of his game! In 2019 alone, Heck won 7 gold medals with 4 FINA world records at the Canadian Masters Championships; 6 gold medals with 5 national records at the Senior Olympic Games; 5 gold medals, including a FINA world record, at the USMS Championships; 9 gold medals with 7 event records at the Huntsman World Senior Games; and 9 FINA World’s 1st place swim times for 2019 in men ages 70-74, plus 7 other swim events resulting in FINA World’s 2nd or 3rd place results.
Clearly, having records in this many races shows the diversity of his skills in all strokes and lengths of races.
12. Will Powell (60)
Will Powell, age 60, is a 3-time Crossfit Games World Champion and a professional bodybuilder who hails from Greensboro, NC. Powell owns his own fitness training and wellness facility, but also has a rich history farming organic fruits and vegetables, which he credits as an asset in his overall health.
Powell was a Division I college track and field athlete. According to his official Crossfit Games profile, Powell took “fourth in his debut appearance in the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Masters Men 50-54 Division, he took first the next year in the same division before winning back-to-back victories in the 55-59 Division in 2015 and 2016. Powell also won the Masters Qualifier in 2015 and 2016, winning all three stages—Open, Qualifier and the Games—in 2016.” The following year was challenging for Powell, as he “competed with a cantaloupe sized benign tumor on his left lung. With less than half lung capacity in that lung he pulled out a 12th place finish. He returned home to have the tumor removed three days later.
He spent most of 2018 working his way back to top shape, and less than a year post surgery Powell took 3rd place in the 2018 Crossfit Games.” Powell is currently ranked 1st in the world again in his age division.
11. Willie Gault (59)
"I run to stay young and because I love the sport. It's the best sport in the world,” says Willie Gault. Now 59 years old, Gault is the reigning world champion in the 100 and 200 meter dash in Masters track for three age groups: 45-49, 50-54, and 55-59, and no man over the age of 45 has ever been faster.
Gault has been a runner throughout his life, even in the off-season while playing football. Upon finishing football at the University of Tennessee, according to Inquirer.com, “Gault played 11 seasons in the NFL [with the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams], winning a Super Bowl with one of the sport's most memorable teams, those unforgettable 1985 Bears. A wide receiver, he caught 333 passes for 6,635 yards and 44 touchdowns in his career.”
Gault would have run in the Olympics if the United States did not boycott the 1980 Games in Moscow. He won the 60-yard dash and 60-yard high hurdles at the 1983 NCAA Championships and was part of the 4x100-meter relay team that won the world championships that same year, setting a world record. Recently, Gault received the 2020 BOSS (Business of Success Beyond Sport) Legend Award for his lifetime of achievements on and off the field, which honors him for excelling in six areas: mentally, emotionally, socially, physically, economically, and spiritually. He continues to train year-round with a trainer in Southern California and competes with the SoCal Track Club. He says, “Hopefully, I'll run until I die."
10. Eric Von der Weid (58)
To say that you have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro at the age of 50 would be quite a feat for most people, but when you are Eric Von der Weid, age 58, it is just one of many.
Active all his life, Von der Weid started with gymnastics and volleyball as a teenager and expanded to skiing, windsurfing, all grounds cycling, and tennis, just to name a few. However, volleyball is his first sport. He played on the Swiss national team from ages 16-24, and he continues to love the sport as a senior athlete. Von der Weid has played Masters tournaments and at the Huntsman World Senior Games for 8 seasons already and enjoys playing indoor and beach volleyball around the world. Von der Weid especially enjoyed winning a Swiss Tour beach volleyball B1 tournament with his daughter’s 18-year-old boyfriend earlier this year.
Running helps keep him conditioned for the sport he truly loves, and he has run the Jungfrau Marathon 5 times. Two of Von der Weid’s greatest accomplishment to date are running 72 km (more than 10 hours and more than 3000 m up) at the Defi Val de Travers in Switzerland and playing in the European Master Games last year when the teams played 2 competitions in parallel during the same 3 days: beach volleyball 55+ and indoor volleyball 50+. Then they continued with another 3 days of 50+ beach volleyball.
9. Herschel Walker (58)
Training with heavy weights in the gym is only one way to create a fantastic physique, and fifty-eight year old Herschel Walker from Georgia, USA is living proof that you can get similar results by using body weight exercises. According to “TheAthleticBuild,” Walker started doing sit-ups and push-ups when he was young, “as many as 5000 a day and still to this day he does 750-1500 pushups every day as well as 3000 sit ups. He also mixes in 1500 pull-ups, 1000 dips, and 1000 squats every day. For cardio, he will run up to 8 miles and do sprints as well. He also does a regimen of martial arts and MMA after he has completed this workout every morning.”
Walker was a college freshman at the University of Georgia who led his team to a national championship, though he said what he learned most from that year was how to stay together as a team. This led to a long string of wins during his college career, despite playing against teams who were “bigger, better, and faster.” Walker also played in 12 NFL seasons and retired with only one person having more all-purpose yards than him in NFL history. He is quoted as saying, “My message is, you can accomplish anything, not just on the athletic field, if you're willing to work pay the price. It doesn't matter what your age.”
8. John Ouweleen (80)
Former New Jersey State Police Trooper John Ouweleen has enjoyed a life of good health, and fitness has played an important role on and off the job.
In 2005, Ouweleen’s wife died from cancer, and he recommitted to basic tenets of eating well, reducing stress, and getting plenty of rest. He changed from jogging and occasional 5K’s to serious marathon training. In 2006 at age 66, he ran his first marathon and won his age group. Ouweleen has completed 34 marathons, including 12 Boston Marathons, where he achieved 7 age group podium finishes (1st place in 2014 and 2019 with a time of 4:01:12). In 2016, Ouweleen completed his 6th Abbott World Marathon Major, having won 1st place for his age group in Boston, Chicago, Berlin, and London and 3rd place in New York City and Tokyo.
Ouweleen now additionally enjoys the Masters circuit races. He holds 8 USATF Masters National age group titles in marathons, half marathons, and 15K races and has won USATF Florida male Masters LDR Athlete of the Year. He also won Masters LDR Road Runner of the Year in 2015 and 2016. In 2019, Ouweleen first competed in track events, including at the Huntsman World Senior Games, where he placed 1st in the 800m and 1500m and 2nd in the 400m. Ouweleen averages 50 miles per week, unless he is training for a marathon when he increases his distance to at least 65 miles.
7. Jacinto Bonilla (81)
How many people do you know that have had a Crossfit WOD (Workout of the Day) named after them? Eighty-one year old Jacinto Bonilla (aka “Grandfather of CrossFit") has, and it is called the “Jacinto Storm.”
Each year on his birthday, a rep is added to each leg of the workout, so when he turned 80 last July 3rd, he completed 80 double unders with a jump rope, 80 squats, 80 push-ups, 80 pull-ups, 80 wall ball shots, 80 kettlebell swings, 80 dead lifts with a 90-pound weight and another round of double unders. Bonilla started Crossfit at the age of 66, after a lifetime of running marathons, bodybuilding, and karate training. Independence is important to Bonilla, so he has strives to always stay fit.
He is the oldest person on record to have competed at the Crossfit Games six times, often competing against athletes decades younger than him. Most recently, he took third place at a 50+ competition at the age of 79.
6. Brad Barton (54)
Brad began his middle-distance running career at Salmon High School in Idaho where he grew up on an 1100 acre cattle ranch. As a result of his success, Brad earned a scholarship to run at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. During his college career he qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in the mile among many other successes. After college he entered the US Olympic Trials as a favorite to make the Barcelona games. A devastating fall at the end of the semi-final round in New Orleans sent him home with his dreams unfulfilled.
Running can be grueling on the body and Brad’s overall career has been plagued by injuries. But Brad says, “It has strengthened my resiliency muscles. I have broken more bones than records along the way. I have learned a lot about tenacity, cultivating hope in the face of great doubt and just working and working and working a good plan until it works."
At the age of 53, he broke an 18-year-old world record, becoming the first 50 plus-year-old to break 4:20 in the mile run with a 4:19.59 performance. This was followed up with an American age group record in the 3000M Steeplechase at 9:49.74. Brad credits much of his success to his coach and team. “I couldn’t have done it without them,” he says.
5. Bill Grundler (54)
“Fitness has been part of my life since I was a kid,” says Crossfitter, Bill Grundler. In high school he wrestled, taking state, and then continued in college until his career was cut short due to injury his senior year.
Not one to sit still, after college Bill competed in triathlons and lifeguard events. “I kept active and that led to my fire career in which I was always training and competing in fire events and just trying to be faster and stronger for my job.” It was then that Bill found CrossFit. “I started competing in CrossFit when there weren’t any age groups and loved that I was way older than everyone and was still able to be just as competitive as the rest of the field.”
And competitive he has remained. He is a multiple-time age group winner and still loves to push himself, even against competitors much younger than he is. “Age is nothing but a number” says Bill. “I am as good as I can be if I let myself be as good as I can be!”
4. Hiromu Inada (86)
“I’m too busy to have time to take it easy… I think of now as my youth” says 86-year-old Hiromu Inada, the world’s oldest Ironman.
According to Ayano Shimizu, a writer for “The Japan Times,” Inada trains six days a week, arriving at his gym in Chiba, Japan by 6:00 AM and sometimes works out until after sunset. He competed in the world championship Ironman race for eight straight years and has completed it three times. In 2018, he beat his own record for the oldest finisher, accomplishing the 3.86 km swim, 180.25 km bike, and marathon in 16:53:49. A humble man, Inada learns new techniques alongside the younger athletes to be more efficient.
He also maintains a strict diet and rest regimen, focusing on the right balance of proteins and carbs and getting to bed by 9:00 PM each night. This way of life has helped Inada age gracefully. He started swimming regularly after retiring and did his first Olympic-distance triathlon at the age of 70. Inada enjoys inspiring the younger generations, saying “I used to think that I could quit whenever I want. But finding out that people are actually expecting things from me led me to think that I need to complete the race no matter what.”
3. Gene Dykes (72)
Imagine improving running race times for 14 years from the age of 56 to age 70! That is the reality for 72-year-old Gene Dykes. A lifelong sports lover of all sports from golf to bowling,
Gene has generally been in running shape and jogged for fun. However, at the age of 56, he discovered road and trail races and hasn’t looked back. At the age of 68, he completed the Triple Crown of 200’s: three 200+ mile trail races in three months. In 2019, he ran the Arches Ultra 50-miler in Moab, the Rocky Raccoon 100 one week later, and two weeks after that the Delirious W.E.S.T. 200 Miler in Australia in 101 hours, which included five venomous snake encounters. On the road, he is the only person alive who has run a marathon in under three hours after the age of 70, which he has done not once, but 4 times, with his best time being 2:54:23.
Dykes is eager to share his story, hoping others discover they can accomplish far more than they thought possible at this stage of life.
2. George Hood (62)
“Set Goals. Keep Score. Break Records…Anything else is just exercise.” This is sixty-two-year-old George Hood’s mantra, who set his first Guinness World Record (GWR) at the rope skipping marathon in Honolulu, HI in 1986. He skipped rope for 13:12:11! Since then, he has set 12 more world records, including: GWR in a stationary cycling marathon for 222:22:22; an Assist World Record (AWR) for a 40 lb weighted plank of 2:35:35; and an AWR for a plank 24-hour accumulation of 18:10:10.
George is most well-known, however, for his many records in the plank. Most recently, he set the GWR of a plank for 8:15:15. Most of his record-setting performances have been set at fundraisers, as Hood is just as dedicated to inspiring and pursuing the greater good as he is to personal health and wellness. He served in the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) for nearly 10 years and with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and has taken on several other professional responsibilities protecting our citizens, including serving in Afghanistan for our country.
He is a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor and has nearly 20 years of training experience. More than anything, he wants to set the right example for his three sons, so they know that anything is possible and that age is not an excuse for inactivity.
1. Anthony Philippe
Anthony Phillipe, from Auxelles Haut, France, has been competing in triathlons for 30 years now! He’s competed and traveled all over the world, as an age group athlete, never as a pro. This means he also holds down a full time job as an Engineering Design professor at a local university. Oh, and he’s married with 2 children.
In the sport of triathlon, the Ironman is king and Anthony has competed 15 times in the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, a record for France. In 2019, he did much more than compete, he won the world title in his age group 50-55. “My greatest accomplishment is just being a triathlete, especially when you "fight" for the win in your Age Group,” says Anthony. “You have to be fit. You have to train all year long. It requires you to be fit almost everyday” He says he gets a lot of satisfaction from beating athletes who are much younger than he is.
With reason he is very proud of his 2019 season. “It was absolutely perfect. I won almost every big race I entered, in my age group!”
In case you’re wondering that list includes a first place finish in the Half Ironman in Marbella, Spain, Ironman Lanzarote, also in Spain, Ironman Roth, Germany, a bronze in the Half Ironman World Championship held in Nice, and back to gold for the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, USA. And Anthony has no intention of slowing down. Watch for him on the medal stand for years to come.