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Peak Age of Various Male Athletes

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  • Peak Age of Various Male Athletes

    Boris Becker, LeBron James, Dan Marino, Jim Ryun and Usain Bolt were/are world class competitors at relatively young ages, if one buys the notion that most men don't reach "full physical maturity" until age 26 or so. This is not to imply that they didn't become stronger, or fill out some, but they were already at the top of their disciplines. The same might be said of Bobby Orr, Tiger Woods, Mike Tyson and Ken Griffey, Jr. That is rare in men. Tiger has put on some weight though.

    Compare that to a Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali, whose physique changed significantly from the date of his pro debut (probably weighed 188, had fought light-heavy in the Rome Games) to the first Liston bout four years later (210 lbs.). Voice even became deeper. Look at pics of Michael Jordan as a rookie, and those of him in his mid-30's. Do the same for Wilt (gangly rookie, barrel-chested veteran). It seems some athletes like Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson, Tyson, LBJ (James) are muscularly mature by 19-21- which figures in their performances. When do you think Bolt will "peak" (in performance), judging from the history of 100 and 200m men?

  • #2
    Around '00, I looked at male PV stats (casually and not in any scientific way). There was a neat divide between Americans & Non-Americans. Lifetime PR was at 28 for Americans and 25 for Nons. Americans cleared 5.80 for the first time at an average age of 27 and Nons at 23. More Americans stalled out at 5.70 than Nons. More Nons stalled out at 5.90 than Americans. I chalked these last two stats up to the mental barrier of 19' for Americans and 6m for the rest of the world.

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    • #3
      I did an article for Running Times a few years back looking at age and the marathon for elite runners. I didn't go hardcore into the statistics side of things, but you can see some interesting trends:

      men:
      http://www.runningtimes.com/blogs/?p=27

      women:
      http://runningtimes.com/blogs/?p=34

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      • #4
        There was thread here many moons ago about 'peak athletic age' and I specifically remember it being '29' with empirical data support.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Marlow
          There was thread here many moons ago about 'peak athletic age' and I specifically remember it being '29' with empirical data support.
          I remember the thread. Part of that support was when testosterone levels start to decline, if I recall correctly.

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          • #6
            Top of Their Game

            by 29, I assume you mean peak "male".

            By that age, Jim Brown was almost done (Borg actually was).

            That actually gives men a very short prime window. Wonder how long Bolt will be at the top of the 100 and the deuce?

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            • #7
              Re: Top of Their Game

              Originally posted by bijanc
              Wonder how long Bolt will be at the top of the 100 and the deuce?
              There's a huge chasm between the physical capabilty to improve and the will to improve. The demands of the top-tier athlete, especially in the 'individual sports' is enormous, physically and psychologically. I can't believe Bolt would wish to keep trying past 2012. Nor Gay.

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              • #8
                peak Age of Various Male Athletes

                There is also the related matter of improved technique, training, and relative strength/weakness of opponents. Wilt, Ali, and Jim Brown (and numerically, Babe Ruth and Getzky) appear to have been athletes ahead of the opponents of their respective "day".

                Relative late bloomers have included Harrison Dillard and Sammy Sosa.

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                • #9
                  Re: peak Age of Various Male Athletes

                  Originally posted by bijanc
                  Relative late bloomers have included Sammy Sosa.
                  ooooo - bad example ops:

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                  • #10
                    Late Bloomers

                    Okay, sub out Sosa for Floyd Patterson (fought as middleweight in '56 Olys, weighed 188 in his prime).

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                    • #11
                      Re: Late Bloomers

                      Originally posted by bijanc
                      Okay, sub out Sosa for Floyd Patterson (fought as middleweight in '56 Olys, weighed 188 in his prime).
                      Floyd won the Olympic middleweight title in '52, at age 17. 4 years later he beat Moore for the heavyweight title. This happened to take place at the same time as the '56 Olympics.

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                      • #12
                        By that age, Jim Brown was almost done
                        Uhh...that was by choice. He had statistically one of his best 2-3 seasons that year, all around.
                        You there, on the motorbike! Sell me one of your melons!

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                        • #13
                          JB

                          By that I meant, Jim Brown very likely still had some left in his tank.

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