Johan Clarey made his career breakthrough by winning the silver medal in the 2022 Winter Olympics in the downhill event. The Frenchman became the oldest skiing medallist in the history of the Winter Olympics at the age of 41 when he achieved the feat, forever etching his name into the folklore of the sport.
Bode Miller was the previous record holder at the age of 36 when he won a bronze medal in the Super G at Sochi in 2014. The fact that Clarey broke the record by such as substantial margin, having never previously threatened to win a medal, highlights the fact that age is not the barrier it once was for athletes competing in their respective sporting fields.
We’ve seen Cristiano Ronaldo operate at a high level in soccer, LeBron James in the NBA and of course Tom Brady in the NFL. Brady continues to astound at the age of 44, and his team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are currently backed in the outright sports betting markets at odds of 8/1 to win the Super Bowl, which would be the quarterback’s eighth crown.
The drive and determination of older athletes to remain at the top of the sport have been remarkable to see over the last decade, where previously they may have been forced to retire in their mid to late thirties. Nowadays with the advances in medical science along with improved knowledge regarding diets and routines, athletes now have the chance to extend their careers long past the age of 35, as Clarey has proven, especially in skiing, which is usually dominated by athletes in the primes of their careers in their twenties.
Clarey’s prime years were plagued by a series of injuries, including multiple ACL tears. In a different era, that would have ended the career of the Frenchman. However, advancements in medicine, especially in regard to knee injuries, have saved many athletes from premature retirement.
Nonetheless, Clarey has admitted that he has also had to be more disciplined regarding his diet, watching every calorie that enters his body, even more so now than when he was in his formative years in the sport. It is only natural as athletes age that their bodies show signs of wear and tear, and diets are affected as metabolism decreases.
As a result, Clarey has been prompted to work harder in the gym and with his nutrition, and rewards have been there to see. He has set a benchmark down for future skiing competitors in the Winter Olympics, and it will be fascinating to see whether anyone in the future could break his record.
In the NFL, Brady has set the tone for athletes aiming to compete for a long time into their mid-forties, using his own nutrition and workout routines to attempt to forge a long path towards playing at the age of 50. Whether he can still operate at a high level because of his nutrition and training regime or whether he is a highly-skilled athlete remains to be seen. But, it is extremely interesting that there is a trend developing across all sports that age is not a barrier to success.