surinenglish

Age is just a number

Norwegian high jumper Knut Henrik Skramstad competes in the 80 to 84-year-old category.
Norwegian high jumper Knut Henrik Skramstad competes in the 80 to 84-year-old category. / Migue Fernández
  • Some 8,200 athletes, aged between 35 and 102, are participating in the World Masters Athletics Championships launched in Malaga on Monday

  • The Ciudad de Málaga, UMA, Carranque and Torremolinos athletics stadiums will host the tournament which runs until 16 September

Jamaica, Morocco, India, France, Kenya, Mauritius, Norway, Germany, the USA, China and Australia are just some of the 101 nations represented in this year's World Masters Athletics Championships.

More than 8,200 sportsmen and women, aged between 35 and 102, have come to the Costa del Sol from far and wide to turn back the clock in search of medals and new world records.

These outdoor championships were launched on Monday at Malaga's Tabacalera building and turned into a multicoloured spectacle, enjoyed by a vast spectrum of age groups.

The cultures and enthusiasm of the varying participating nations were displayed in the procession of flags and in other performances, with traditional dress and other accessories on show.

While there were groups of those aged 35 to 40 who wouldn't look out of place at an ordinary championship, combining them with those who are 80+ certainly created an unusual image.

Heady figures

This is the second time that Spain has hosted these championships, the biggest for athletes over the age of 35 - whether former athletes (and even Olympians) who want to keep the fire burning, or those who came to sport in later life.

In 2005, San Sebastián attracted 6,000 athletes, but this time round Malaga has exceeded that number, with 1,793 athletes comprising the Spanish team alone (273 of which are from Malaga province).

Group photo of the 101 national delegations at the Tabacalera building.

Group photo of the 101 national delegations at the Tabacalera building. / Migue Fernández

Spain's delegation, the largest at the championships, is closely followed in second place by Great Britain, another nation which has historically backed masters sport.

The numbers also make positive reading for the province: thirteen days of competition, more than 8,200 athletes, 200 judges, 350 volunteers, up to 24,000 people staying in the province and more than 20 million euros going directly into the local economy.

Spectacular images

When the action got under way on Tuesday, it was quickly in evidence that age is just a number - a phrase that will doubtless be repeated for the duration of the competition.

Certainly the sight of octogenarians doing the high jump creates a spectacular image, likewise a former Olympian showing that they still have some of the magic for which they are renowned.

Seeing is believing and the Ciudad de Málaga, Carranque, Torremolinos and the University of Malaga's athletics stadiums are all hosting events practically every day, from 9am to 10pm in some cases, until Sunday 16 September.