Today’s post is derived from this similarly headlined and pretty interesting New Scientist article.

How would you compare fitness among centenarian athletes and across different sports?

According to the article, Romuald Lepers (University of Belgium) answered the question by:

  • measuring the performance of centenarian athletes across sports;
  • compared that performance with the world record (for any age) in the sport;
  • measured the rate of decline from the world record time to the centenarian’s time;
  • identified which centenarian had the lowest decline in performance.

So “for example, Usain Bolt holds the 100-metre record of 9.58 seconds. Donald Pellmann, competing in the 100 to 104 age-group in 2015, completed the same distance in 26.99 seconds – a 64.5 per cent decrease in performance compared with Bolt.”

And “the centenarian athlete who showed the smallest decline was Frenchman Robert Marchand, who holds the world record for his age group in 1-hour track cycling, among others. Cycling 26.93 kilometres in 1 hour, Marchand was only 50.6 per cent slower than Bradley Wiggins’s 54.53 km record.”

Previous studies have shown that prowess in athletic events can be maintained until 35 to 40 years of age. After that, our performance decreases by about 10 to 15 per cent per decade, says Lepers.

But Marchand has declined much more slowly. Lepers says that Marchand has exceptional muscular and cardiorespiratory function compared with other people of his age. His performance corresponds to an age-related decline of less than 8 per cent per decade for more than 60 years.

The rate of athletic decline also depends on the sport. “Our study shows that in some disciplines the decline is less pronounced,” he says. Running and swimming performances tend to plummet, for instance, whereas throwing and cycling abilities tend to decline more gently.


Yesterday near Grevillea Park

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Food: congee, pumpkin, honey murcott mandarins, strawberries, seaweed flakes, untuna, lettuce, vege noodles.

Workout: 14.9km bike ride, 100m elevation, at 19.9km/h

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