I photograph competitive athletes in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. There is an annual schedule of worldwide athletics events for masters athletes, the major ones attracting several thousand participants. You?re eligible for masters athletics at 35 but I?m interested in photographing the older age groups. These events are both fiercely competitive as well as being a meeting place for old friends, many of whom have been competing against each other for decades. They?re little known by anyone other than the competitors themselves and their families. If my photos can play a part in bringing them to a wider audience, I?m delighted.
I?m partly driven by my love of sport ? I?m a competitive tennis player and now a beginner runner too. I?m using my photography to challenge some of the negative popular attitudes towards ageing that are dominant in our culture. But as I get to know the athletes better and learn their personal stories, I increasingly simply want to document and bear witness to them as inspiring individuals.
Older athletes don?t necessarily look younger than they are. But what they do look is wonderful ? and very alive. They are determined, strong, joyful, empowered and full of life.
Not everyone can be (or indeed wants to be) an athlete. But I hope my photos remind us of what?s possible as we age and challenge some of the very powerful and dominant preconceptions that circulate in our society about what it means to be old.
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