How to be a world-record-holding athlete… at 97

How to be a world-record-holding athlete… at 97

Charles Eugster at the gym

By Guy Kelly,

Aged 87, Charles Eugster joined a body-building club and never looked back. 10 years on, he talks to the Telegraph about his bodily transformation.

When I was 63, I had an epiphany. One morning, I looked in the mirror and realised I’d become a balding, self-satisfied lump of lard. It had crept up on me so slowly, I hadn’t realised it was happening.

It was a shock as I’d always been healthy. While at university in London I rowed competitively, and later I joined the Swiss army (as my parents were Swiss-German), so I was very fit. My regime fell by the wayside after I trained as a dentist at Guy’s Hospital, London, in 1948. I began to focus on building my dental practice, and family life – by this point I’d married and had two children – and had less time for exercise.

That day, after looking in the mirror, I decided to start rowing again. I began to take part in competitions for people in my age group, training six mornings a week – usually at 7am as I’d see my first patient at 8.30. I plodded along quite happily with this routine, even after retiring at 75.

But everything changed again in 2001, when I lost my second wife. She was the love of my life, so when she died in a traffic accident on holiday in France, I fell apart. At first I became a grumpy old man, but later I started rowing more competitively than ever to deal with my grief. By 2013, I had won 40 gold medals at World Rowing Masters regattas.

Despite my fitness, my body looked old – it was sagging with a spare tyre and my bottom looked awful – so when I turned 87, I joined a bodybuilding club. I also engaged a personal trainer, who was a previous Mr Universe. When I first approached him he laughed, but after seeing how serious I was, he agreed, and within 12 months I’d lost 12kg and gained a six-pack.

“I’m the British-record holder in five athletics events in the 95-plus age bracket, and a world-record holder at 200m and 400m”

If I’m honest, ripped abs looked a bit silly on someone my age, so I decided to hone my physique in other ways. I moved from rowing and weightlifting to swimming and running. At 95, my body was completely rebuilt. I looked the best I had in decades: slimmer, with biceps and a waistline.

Today, I’m the British-record holder in five athletics events in the 95-plus age bracket, and a world-record holder at 200m and 400m – I can run 200m in 55.53 seconds. Most of my competitors are younger than me, but I beat them, and I rarely get tired. Still, my achievements aren’t extraordinary – anyone my age could do this.

I have lots more goals to reach before turning 100, including setting the indoor 60m world record in my age group – it stands at 14.28 seconds. I may be a nonagenarian, but I won’t be giving up just yet.

This article was originally published in The Telegraph

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Saints Health Club
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