We guarantee this new documentary will make you want to get off the couch
These senior athletes have a lot of lessons to teach about what getting old really looks like.
A sprinter breaks an all-time record for the 100-meter dash at a race in Utah. A yoga instructor pivots to dance and wins five salsa competitions in Argentina. A weightlifter wins first place in her division at an amateur competition in California. A swimmer triumphs in a mile-long race through 63-degree temperatures in the Adriatic Sea off the coast of northern Italy.
At a glance, you might think these are just a sampling of some seasoned athletes' impressive resumes.
And you'd be right ... but it doesn't end there.
You see, these athletes are all in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. That yogi-turned-dancer? She's 98. That record-breaking sprinter? He's 87. That swimmer crossing the Adriatic? She was 68 then, she's 73 now, and she just won three more gold medals.
Still sitting on that couch brushing Cheetos dust off your fingers?
These athletes were all featured in a recently added documentary on Netflix called "Impossible Dreamers." Among the standouts: Donald "Doc" Cheek, the 87-year-old New York-born college professor who's an international Masters sprinter; Daniela Barnea, the 73-year-old Israeli-American swimmer who's tops in her age group for breaststroke and individual medley; Gary Player, the 81-year-old Australian pro golfer who touts a boot-camp-style workout for all ages; and Ann Schranz, a 61-year-old Wisconsin-born church pastor who dreams of being a competitive boxer.
They weren't always athletes. Some of them only turned to exercise after something went wrong. For Barnea, who grew up in Israel – where beaches and water sports are plentiful – swimming was a natural pastime, but she didn't take it seriously until later in life. After graduating from Jerusalem's Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, she moved to California, had three children and started enrolling them in sports. One of those sports was swimming, and once she realized how much her kids loved it, she decided to dust off the old Speedo and jump in, too.
“It’s like meditation to me," Barnea told The New York Times. "It’s very peaceful. There is something very soothing about being surrounded by water.”
And as inspirational films go, the road is hard, and it sometimes ends unexpectedly. Thus was the case for one athlete – Harry Sneider, a longtime bodybuilder who ran a gym with his wife, died on 2014 at the age of 73. The film's directors, Eric Goldfarb and Erik Howell, were in the midst of filming when they learned of his death.
His wife, Sarah, went on to beat her own personal record in weightlifting competitions that she and Harry had trained for together. "I needed to train right away," Sarah said of her grieving process. "Exercise is extremely important ... when you're going through a difficult situation."
Indeed, that's the running theme in "Impossible Dreamers": perseverance. "I don't quit," a 91-year-old tennis player nicknamed "Fast Eddie" said in the film. "If the ball comes over, I hit it back. I don't try to knock off winners; I just try to hit the ball over one more time than my opponent, and I've won the point.
"As far as I'm concerned, the spirit of tennis and competition only goes one way, and that's full blast."
The film is available to watch on Netflix and Amazon.
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Related Topics: Sports