Sports keeps you younger

In a country where the national sport is surviving wars and terror attacks, it's no wonder that professional sports are not so popular.
Many Israelis discover sports later in life, when the saying "exercise keeps you younger" begins to have more sway. It was in the spirit of this credo that some 400 athletes from Israel gathered in Jerusalem during the first days of November 2004 to take part in the first professional competition for athletes over sixty.
People from around the country, most of them retired with grandchildren, came together in a celebration of sports and fitness, inspired by the idea of pursuing a Golden Age spent in good physical condition. The youngest competitors were in their 60s, with the average age being 71.

Many of those who took part in the competition were once professional athletes in the 1950s and 1960s who have maintained their fitness and skills as a pastime. The event served as something of a reunion, with many of the athletes recalling competitions past where they had once faced off.
Aging athletes can find taking part in professional competitions dispiriting, their goal no longer to win but simply to finish in a respectable time and without being trampled by impatient masses. Sometimes they don't even achieve that, completing the race long after the young winner has showered and rested.

With the inauguration of November's games, elderly athletes finally have a forum in which they can taste the thrill of genuine competition, no longer pushing themselves not to be last, but to be first and take home the gold.
The experiment was so successful that participants wanted to create a social club for the elderly. With the help of the Jerusalem municipality, and the JDC, they have established just such the organization. Its membership is open to all members of society, provided they are over sixty.

Enthusiastic planners are working on setting up "Golden Age" Olympic Games, which would be held in Israel.

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