This week’s medal -” the bronze at least -” goes to a couple of tenacious guys I know. What I love about these two is that they are nothing alike -” except on the sporting field.

They will never have met. One grew up playing rugby in Ireland. The other played football as a child beneath the shadow of the -˜theatre of dreams’. This is the euphemism for the home of the round-ballers, Manchester United. It is a tough area. The kids are tough -” those who make it to first division are very tough indeed.

Both our champions are under 40, in an era where 40 is the new 20. Their minds are wonderful. They are socially engaging, one a family man, the other in a long-term relationship with his gay partner. In their minds they still play the same game at the same speed they always have.

I have watched them. Their minds lie. Following a game, now known as a social match, they begin a prolonged period of suffering akin to a self-flagellating priest -” when the pain eases even for a moment they must be at it again. Blood flow to the sprained, bruised or bandaged area will speed its recovery. Bollocks, as they would say. Some men are inept at adapting gracefully to a slower pace, leisurely activity that is more appropriate to their age.

The injuries their bodies have adapted to and coped with over their sporting careers ensure they will suffer the indignity of arthritis, back pain, weak ankles or shoulder joints -” if they aren’t surgically repaired or replaced already.

But enough bagging. Good on them for running into things that don’t move, flying through the air only to gracefully return to a hard (or, in the UK, wet and muddy) surface with a resulting break or dislocation. Can I help them with skill improvement? A little. Do they want to swim instead? Maybe. Will this make it easier? Only if they don’t injure themselves.

Do they get excited over kicking a goal? You better believe it. They become children again, and in this moment, all my muttering is silenced. This burst of energy, life and excitement, this rush of adrenalin and complementing hormones adds a special quality to their being. It makes them who they are. Sports nuts who forgot to grow old.

Play sport with the Masters, and grow old disgracefully. Join a member club and participate in the World Masters Games in Sydney this October: teamsydney.org.au

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