Extreme sports life begins at 60: active pensioners seek adventure

Sunday, October 13th, 20132 Comments

The image of the over 60s sitting by the fireside with their slippers and a blanket over the knees is wrong and patronising according to a number of recent reports. Age UK – a charity which champions the issues faced by older people – identifies a rising trend in the number of over 60s taking up extreme sports.

The charity puts the increased participation in adventure activities of older age groups down to a number of factors, saying: ‘Reduced working hours, retirement and fewer financial and family responsibilities mean that the opportunity for experiencing new thrills has suddenly become more accessible.’

According to The Activity People – the UK’s largest network of adventure sports – enquires from the over-60 age group are up 19 per cent in 2010 on the previous year. ‘Water sports, hot air ballooning, zorbing, skydiving and quad biking are all activities that are popular with this age group,’ said a spokesperson for the company.

Alongside the rising numbers of over 60s taking part in extreme sports, there has been an increase in the number of injuries in this age group. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) reported that more than a third of the 212 people in British scuba diving incidents requiring medical treatment last year were over 50.

But Aged UK believes the benefits of a more active retirement far outweigh the potential injuries. ‘The more active we are, the more strength and balance we have, and the lower our risk of heart disease and raised cholesterol. Combine physical activity with the great outdoors – where most extreme sports take place – and you’ve got two fantastic ingredients for a happy, healthy lifestyle,’ states the charity.
older man on bike
The charity also highlights the social benefits of extreme sports: ‘Another great thing about getting involved in extreme sports – no matter what age you are – is the social aspect. Widening your friendship group by linking up with other like-minded thrill seekers can be hugely rewarding – especially as meeting new people can become challenging as we get older.’

Activity People’s advice to its older customers is: ‘A lot of activities like hot air ballooning are less strenuous than others. But if you do want to do a strenuous activity such as scuba diving we advise that you get a doctor’s note declaring yourself fit.’

Janet, who’s a retired teacher in her 70s, joined a group of friends to celebrate her birthday with a skydive. ‘It’s something I have always wanted to do and it was wonderful. We had a terrific time,’ she said.

But she discovered they weren’t the oldest skydivers. ‘Our instructor told us he had a woman in her 90s skydiving,’ she said.

According to the New Scientist, the things that make you happy can extend your life by up to ten years.  Clearly, skydiving does it for these women.  Check out a range of activities for all ages and fitness ranges by clicking here.

Women in extreme sports. Can extreme sports show football the way forward?

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011No Comments

While football hit a spectacular own goal with Sky Sport’s presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys loosing their jobs over dismissive comments about women officials in football, Adrenamag asks if, when it comes to sexism, extreme sports can show the way forward to traditional sports like football? Unlike football, it doesn’t take long to find high-profile women at the top in the world of extreme sports. Here are some extreme sports stars who the former Sky Sports presenters may want to follow now they have more time on their hands.

1. Motor sport star Alice Powell. In January Alice Powell was named the British Woman Racing Drivers Club Elite Gold Star Winner for her success and achievement in 2010. It is the second year in succession she has won the award.

Presenting the award to the former karting star was the BBC1 Formula One TV presenter Jake Humphrey. Jake said: ‘I really do think it’s about time that women who are making waves in motor racing are recognised at the very top. So good luck in 2011.’

This year Alice hopes to compete in the Formula Renault UK Championship, which receives LIVE ITV coverage and crowds at the track that match figures of attendance at an average Premier League Football game. If you are a woman who is interested in karting and would like to know where Alice started click here.

2. Italian women clay pigeon shooters. Italy is home to some of the world’s top women clay pigeon shooters. Katiuscia Spada won the Skeet Women ISSF World Cup Final in Izmir, Turkey, in 2010. It’s not the first time the Italian police officer has been seen on the medal winners’ podium in the last three years; she won the Olympic silver medal in Beijing behind fellow Italian Chiara Cainero. Skeet is a clay pigeon discipline where clays are thrown by two machines for the shooter to kill. If you want to try clay pigeon shooting, click here.

Kristin Boese: Water sports star

Kristin Boese: Water sports star

3. Water sports super star, Kristin Boese. German Kristin Boese is a legend in women’s water sports. Twice women’s world kitesurfing champion, she has been nominated for world sailor of the year. The author of several books, she has also recently launched a modelling career. If you want to try water sports, click here.

4. Archery hot shot. Twenty-six year-oldNicky Hunt is targeting more medals in 2011. Finishing 2010 in number one position in the FITA world rankings, she helped the English team win the women’s compound team event then added the individual gold medal a day later. If you want to try archery click here.

5. Women skydivers. It’s known as the world’s biggest pink cloud with 181 women skydivers filling the Californian sky in 2009. Led by Kate Cooper-Jensen, one of the foremost skydivers in the world, Jump for the Cause was co-founded with Mallory Lewis, after her mother, legendary puppeteer Shari Lewis, lost her battle with cancer in 1998. Events in 1999, 2002 and 2005 raised a combined total of over $1 million and broke the previous world records with 119 women in 1999, 131 women in 2002,151 in 2005 and 181 women in 2009. If you want to try a sky dive or another extreme sport, click here.

How to be a better clay pigeon shooter

Friday, January 14th, 2011No Comments

Like a lot of top sportsmen Andrew Strauss, captain of the England cricket team, is a big believer in visualisation. His maxim is ‘you should never put your body in a place your mind has not already been’.

Many top clay pigeon competitors argue that the same principles apply to shooting. Few sports so closely rely on the interaction between mind and body as pigeon shooting. Tom, a clay shooting instructor for over 20 years, says: ‘The mind and body are inseparable in shooting, the moment people tense up, their ability to shoot is dramatically reduced.’

He argues that controlling the mind is a big part of shooting. ‘Shooting is not just about where you put your feet but how you approach the target. It is about being instinctive and aware.’ The above video illustrates how visualisation can be used to focus on the target. Like Andrew Strauss, the shooter is putting his mind in the place to fire the trigger before he actually puts his body in that position.

Visualisation may have played a part in helping Andrew Strauss’ team win the Ashes in Australia, and it could well make you a better clay shooter. Why not give the theory the practical test and have a go yourself, click here.

Clay shooting world champion’s hot tips

Wednesday, June 16th, 20101 Comment

lesley Goddard

By her own admission, the GB shooting team selectors left Lesley Goddard with a ‘broken heart’ when, after winning a quota place in the team for the Beijing Olympics, the selectors surprisingly offered the place to younger rival, Charlotte Kerwood.

Lesley, who’s now in her early 50s, is clearly still emotional when she talks about that decision but, being the belligerent competitor she is, she fought back. In 2009, she won the English, British and World Universal Trench championships in a two-fingered salute to the GB selectors.
Lincolnshire Sports Partnership Awarded Lesley Goddard Lincolnshire Sport’s Personality of the Year in 2009.
It was the consistency of Lesley’s performance that has kept her at the top of her field for the last 16 years, despite once being told she would never make an international shooter. An individual silver and team medallist at the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002, and she was the only English woman to qualify for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games four years later. Now retired from international shooting, Lesley works as a sports psychologist helping top athletes aim high. Adrenamag fired the questions at her in an emotional ‘Adrenalin Junkie’ interview.

clay shotters

Lesley Goddard winning an Olympic Trap, silver team medal at the World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia, June 2006. Team members Charlotte Kerwood (left) and Shona Marshall (right)

How did you get into shooting? My ex-husband used to shoot game and I come from a sporting family: my dad played cricket for Lincolnshire. But I really got into shooting when a friend, Joe Wheater who’s a bit of legend in the shooting world, decided to sell his gun shop and set up a shooting school. Just months after taking up the sport in 1990, I took part in selection shoots, achieving 2nd in the English open, and shooting in the England Ladies DTL team, in Ashbourne, Ireland.

Who’s your sporting hero? Steve Redgrave – he’s got the guts and the determination that is needed to succeed in international sport.

What’s the biggest thrill you’ve had in sport? Standing on the podium as world champion. (Lesley answers with a quiver of emotion in her voice, which she apologises for. ‘Sorry it means so much to me, but if it doesn’t you won’t succeed at the top level in this sport.’)

And the biggest set back? Not gaining a place on the GB Olympic team for Beijing. It was my lifetime’s ambition and I feel someone else took that opportunity away when I had earned my place on the team. I feel I was psychologically ready to perform in the Olympics and feel sure I would have been in the top six and probably on the podium. I can’t pretend it still doesn’t hurt.

Are there any advantages or disadvantages to being a woman in sport? Men can sometimes be more focused than women when it comes to shooting. But there’s no reason why a woman can’t be as good a shot as a man. The top women prove this all the time.

What are your five tips to people to improve a person’s shooting? Go to a good coach. This can put you onto the right path and make a massive difference. Shoot with the right gun – your coach will help you with this. It’s like choosing a pair of shoes; you’ll struggle to walk if they are too big. I see so many people shooting with guns where they can’t see the down the barrel.

Start with small cartridges. If you begin shooting with cartridges that are too big, your shoulder is likely to hurt and you won’t come back. Learn how to handle a gun, and then increase the size of the cartridges and the gun.

Enjoy yourself. Don’t get obsessed with the score. And if you do have a bad day, remember that doesn’t make you a bad shot. Everyone has bad days. Even the best.

The gun needs to be held gently, not like a like an iron bar. Don’t be frightened of it and be relaxed but firm – again easier if you have the right-sized gun.

How much does it cost to be a top shooter? In the year before the Olympic games in Beijing I spent about £13,000. It’s a big commitment both financially and emotionally. Very different to recreational shooting.

If someone has never shot before, what would you advise to get the most out of a day’s shooting? Just have a go. There’s no more instant thrill than pulling the trigger and seeing the clay break into pieces. The competition is between you and the clay. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. And the great thing about this sport is you can stand next to a world champion like me – and hit the target just the same.

Tell us about your approach to sports psychology? I work with competitors in a range of sports such as sailing, darts, roller-skating, shooting and motor racing. People don’t normally come to a sports psychologist unless the wheels have come off in some way. So my job is to remind them how good they are. I use hypnosis. When I shot competitively, I put myself in a hypnotic state – to be totally focussed on the target. My philosophy in sport – and life – is people don’t really succeed unless they truly believe in themselves. I like to keep quotes in a book, and I remember writing in my book in 2006, ‘now I truly believe in myself’. It was a breakthrough moment for me.

If you want to get your hands on a gun and start putting Lesley’s tips into practice, click here.

And, if you’re interested in sports psychology, you can contact Lesley via email: lesleygoddard@hotmail.co.uk

Silver lining to volcanic ash cloud:

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010No Comments

ash cloud
Northern Europe’s air travellers may have been left grounded by clouds of ash created by the unpronounceable Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajoekull, but one group of fliers were up, up and away. Hot air balloonists revelled in the empty skies.  West country balloonists took the opportunity to drift into normally prohibited air space over Bristol airport for previously unseen views.

Terry Chamberlain, 64, who is chairman of the Pennine Region Balloon Association, which represents amateur balloonists in the north of England, said: ‘The volcanic ash cloud had no detrimental impact on balloonists. Although the UK Civil Aviation Authority issued a notice that balloonists should keep clear of controlled air space, air traffic controllers were still working, so balloon pilots radioed them if they wanted to enter controlled air space. They were probably glad of someone to speak to,’ said Terry.

Moreover, in Stranraer Met Office scientists launched balloons into the sky to help measure the particle levels in the volcanic ash cloud.

If you are interested in hot air ballooning and want to get close and personal with the clouds, click here.