When he won the Middlesex Schools' Hurdles Championship at the age of 15, Tony probably never believed he'd still be sprinting and hurdling at the age of 82.
But here he is. The current holder of the world record in the indoor hurdles for athletes in their 80s and the British record holder for Decathlon in his age group.
Tony's obviously incredibly proud that he's still achieving so much on the track, despite not being a teenager any more. With a wry smile, he tells us: "When I was 71, I took part in the New Year sprint up in Scotland. I was the oldest athlete by 30 years ever to have won it". He's also set himself a few new challenges. First, he's set his sights on running the 100 metres when he's 100. And then his next target is to live to be 120. Knowing Tony, he'll do it!
Proudly holding a bunch of medals in each hand, Tony gives us a glimpse into what motivates him. He tells us: "When you're competing, if you're doing well, the exhilaration is fantastic. Keeping your body under stress for a certain time physically, helps the bodily system to survive and be healthy". And it's not just good for the body. Tony thinks being active has real benefits for the brain too.
Talking to Tony, you get the impression he's completely at ease with his advancing years. He remarks: "I think the best thing about getting older is not being afraid of things. I used to be incredibly nervous. Now I can focus my mind a lot better on the race. I look forward to it with excitement. Thinking about the work I've put in to get to that position gives me strength".
Although Tony recognises his body has limitations, it's obviously not going to stop him from doing what he loves. "Your body does start to deteriorate. You get stiffness in your joints. But being an athlete enables me to put that to one side to a certain extent. I'm one of the fortunate ones to be able to do what I'm doing now”.
As Tony stretches and limbers up for his next sprint around the track, he tells us:
I'm having such a great time, I absolutely love life. You're never too old to be a champion.
Posted on 12 September 2017