Centenarian athletes: Examples of ultimate human performance?



Publication Details

Lepers, R., Stapley, P. J. & Cattagni, T. (2016). Centenarian athletes: Examples of ultimate human performance?. Age and Ageing, 45 (5), 729-733.


Background some centenarians are engaged in regular physical activity and sometimes in sporting events. Objective we aimed to identify world records of centenarian athletes in several sports and determine which represented the best performance when compared to all-age world records, all disciplines taken together. Methods all of the best performances achieved by centenarians were identified and compared in three disciplines: athletics, swimming and cycling. The performances were considered as an average of the respective speeds, except for jumping and throwing events for which the maximum distances performed were considered. Within each discipline, the decline in performance of centenarian athletes was expressed as a percentage of the world record for that discipline. In total, 60 performances of centenarian athletes were found. These performances belong to 19 individuals: 10 in athletics, 8 in swimming and 1 in cycling. Results the centenarian world record performed by Robert Marchand in one hour track cycling appears to be the best performance (−50.6% compared with the all-age world record in this discipline) achieved by a centenarian. Conclusions although the physiological characteristics of Robert Marchand are certainly exceptional, his remarkable performance could also be due to the lower age-related decline for cycling performances compared with running and swimming. Our observations offer new perspectives on how the human body can resist the deleterious effects of ageing.

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