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Inspirational Athletes: 10 Master Athletes Older Than 50

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Tennis great Martina Navratilova is among the many athletes who continue to push themselves athletically and succeed, well beyond the age when they are expected to quit.
Tennis great Martina Navratilova is among the many athletes who continue to push themselves athletically and succeed, well beyond the age when they are expected to quit.

Part of the fun of watching the Olympics are all the inspirational athletes displaying their talents. As our television screens are dominated by the sweat and tears of teens and 20-somethings (with a few exceptions of course, such as these 10 Olympic qualifiers older than 40), we at Huff/Post50 were inspired to dig up some more incredible “silver” athletes. Turns out they're out there -- in full force.

Some are competing against considerably younger athletes (for example, five-time Olympian Butch Johnson was just beat out in his sixth consecutive Olympic trial at age 56 by archers more than 40 years younger than him), but there are enough older athletes out there for them to go mano a mano in competitions such as the World Masters Athletics championships.

What is it that inspires these athletes to seemingly defy time and the effects of aging, to continue to achieve greatness well beyond the age most pros quit? "Some masters athletes are as driven as ambitious executives,” observed journalist Lee Berquist in the preface to his book, "Second Wind: The Rise of the Ageless Athlete." “But many simply find that an athletic act, executed with old bones and muscle, can give meaning to life in ways that love and religion cannot.” Bergquist speaks from experience: he was inspired to profile 18 masters athletes after his own forays into masters track and field competitions in his 40s.

Many of the inspirational athletes he spoke to were also trying to make up for failing to meet their potential in their youth, Bergquist told Huff/Post50. "Some were on an Olympic team or nearly qualified, [and that's] something that's eaten at them," he said.

These older inspirational athletes who succeed aren’t just weekend enthusiasts. "They do have an exceptional interest in health and fitness -- more so than the average person. It’s a big part of their lives," which is key to their success, Bergquist said. They also have access to a mighty resource that can help them pursue their interests. “Because of the Internet, older athletes today are able to use and employ the same expertise and training techniques that Olympic athletes use or professional athletes use," he noted.

And this is really the crux of it, according to Berquist. We can all benefit from what these particularly dedicated few have gleaned from their research into health and fitness, and their personal experiences pushing their bodies to the limit. "What these people do can help everyone be healthy," he said.

That's not to mention, of course, the inspirational value of these athletes. Check out the slideshow below for 10 athletes who are still competing and excelling; these inspirational athletes challenge us all to push ourselves a little farther and faster.

Please share your own stories with us! Send photos of you displaying your athleticism after 50 to sayitonhuffpost50@huffingtonpost.com.

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