Article Abstract

The age of the champion as a major determinant of (personalized) performance in different sports disciplines

Authors: Fabian Sanchis-Gomar, Camilla Mattiuzzi, Giuseppe Lippi

Abstract

Background: Personalized medicine involves many putative domanis including, but not limited to, gender, age and ethnic origin. The age of the athlete has often been regarded as a limiting factor for a number of sports, particularly sports in which strength, flexibility or endurance capacity required. However, both experience and skill are typically gained after years of practice, so that it is conventionally accepted that older athletes may be more successful in performing sports where these aspects prevail. Since no information has been published so far about the influence of age on success across different sports disciplines, we carried out a statistical study to establish whether any relationship exists between age and excellence in four different sports disciplines such as car racing, cycling, alpine ski and tennis.
Methods: The information about the official winners of four among the most popular individual sports disciplines such as car racing [i.e., formula 1 (F1) championship winners], cycling [i.e., Tour de France (TdF) winners], alpine ski (i.e., alpine ski world cup winners), and tennis (i.e., Wimbledon winners) was retrieved from the official databases of F1, Tour de France, International Ski Federation and Wimbledon Championship. The relationship between the age of the Winners and the years was assessed and with Spearman’s correlation.
Results: The median age of winners of the different sport disciplines in the past 65 years was significantly different, with that of F1 winners [31 years, interquartile range (IQR) 28–34 years] being always greater than that of TdF winners (28 years, IQR 27–30 years), alpine ski world cup winners (25 years, IQR 23–28 years) and Wimbledon winners (24 years, IQR 22–27 years). Interestingly, a rather different trend was noticed when the age of the winners of the different sports disciplines were plotted against time.
Conclusions: The results of this analysis attest that the age has represented an important determinant in several sports disciplines in the past 65 years, although the strength of this association has considerably declined in the past decade.

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