Who said age is a barrier in sport

There seems to be belief  that when a sportsperson gets to a certain age their career is finished.

But there are many top athletes at the elite level who appear to be bucking the trend across many sports.

In tennis, Roger Federer is still a top class competitor at the age of 32. He recently said he had no plans to become a spectator and wants to keep playing as long as he can.

German Tommy Haas, 36, is still playing on the world tennis tour acquitting himself well.

Tennis street fighter, Lleyton Hewitt, 32, still has the mental drive to push himself against the best.

In Twenty20 cricket, Brad Hodge at 39, and Brad Hogg, 43, are defying the aches and pains that come with an ageing body and are playing well. Both have been selected in the Australian Twenty20 team to take part in this year’s world cup.

Former Test player Mike Hussey is 38, but Mr Cricket still plays with the zest of a teenager in the Twenty20 Big Bash competition.

In motor racing, Russell Ingall, is 49, and will drive a Holden Commodore in the International V8 Supercars Championship this year.

Recently retired South African batsman Jacques Kallis, was 38, when he pulled up stumps on his Test career, but from 2008, when aged 33, to 2013, aged 38, he scored 15 centuries. Kallis only retired from Test cricket and is still playing Twenty20 and one dayers.

West Indian Test veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 39, who averages 51 as a batsman, is still an accomplished Test player.

Too many sportspeople at the elite level get the ‘‘shove’’ by selectors or feel the burden of critics to make a decision about their own futures, because of their advancing years.

Champion five-eighth Darren Lockyer retired at 34, but was still playing well when he hung up the boots at the end of 2011.

Newcastle Knights forwards Willie Mason and Jeremy Smith, who are both 33, are saddling up for the 2014 NRL season.

Both men played with youthful enthusiasm last season under coach Wayne Bennett.

Steve Menzies, who retired at the end of the 2013 British Super League season with Catalan Dragons, was 39. Now, 40, he was due to play in the Auckland Nines this weekend (February 15-16). And former Roosters champion Brad Fittler, 42, was another ‘‘oldie’’ who was going to lace his boots one more time at the Nines — a decade after his retirement.

Senior players are also terrific mentors for younger players and can impart priceless knowledge to them.

As long as the fire inside keeps burning you play as long as you can. 

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