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September 14, 2016
by Agnes Oh, PsyD, LMFT

How Old Is Too Old To Compete For The Olympics? : New Precedence Defying Age Limit

September 14, 2016 09:50 by Agnes Oh, PsyD, LMFT

The summer Olympics is one of the biggest global events unanimously flaunted by the entire world. The Olympians train nonstop all year round in order to compete fiercely against the world’s best of the best. This year’s quadrennial celebration in Rio was no exception.

The top athletes from every part of the world have not only competed passionately but also set new records in an unprecedented way, co-authoring the remarkable stories of inspiration and motivation for all.

This year in Rio, however, what counted more than the number of medals won is the spirit of true sportsmanship which seemed to have overpowered the old standard, raising a new bar for the Olympic Games.

New Pacesetters

At the Olympics, age usually serves as a chief factor, traditionally construed as a major barrier for many competing athletes in the past. However, there are several female athletes who completely defied this pre-notion and even proved it wrong.

One notable Olympian is 41-year old Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan who has kept up with her training for four decades in order to participate in her 7th consecutive competition in Rio this year. Chusovitina is the oldest gymnast competing in the history of Olympic Games. Since her first game in 1992, Chusovitina has not let her age preclude her from competing in a sport of the shortest career spans overpopulated by her teenage counterparts.

Kristin Armstrong is another one of these anomalies. At age 43, Armstrong has won three consecutive summer Olympics as the oldest female cyclist in the world. Counter to her anticipated retirement after the 2012 competition in London, Armstrong once again defeated the odds.

Additionally, Erika Olivera (40 year old marathon runner) and Jo Pavey (42 year old long distance runner) of Chile added more to this wonder as they each competed for their 5th Olympics in Rio (Gabrielle, 2016).


These women’s feat is a powerful affirmation of the Olympic spirit which is both ageless and timeless.

Perhaps the true championship of the Olympic Games is less about medal winning and more about pursuing the intrinsic passion unbound by any external constraints.

Such spirit may also be reflective of the innate human resiliency which surpasses the seemingly impossible.

Even though these female Olympians have marked the distinguished accomplishments defying the norm, they must not be the only Olympic heroes who challenged the odds.

Each and every Olympian who has ever partaken of the games has made history, demonstrating this rare gift of human potential evidenced by their enduring persistence and immutable willpower to fight and keep fighting.

And perhaps this spirit is the essence of human triumph and precisely what we are celebrating not only at this Olympic Games but all throughout the history of humanity.


Gabrielle. August 2016. Her Daily. Women In the Olympics: Age Is But A Number. Retrieved from

About the Author

Dr. Agnes Oh Dr. Agnes Oh, PsyD, LMFT

Dr. Agnes Oh is dually licensed as a clinical psychologist and a marriage and family therapist in the state of California, fully committed to helping each individual to maximize his/her intrinsic potential to heal, grow, and thrive.

Dr. Agnes Oh has a clinical practice in Glendale, CA

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