Growing Old Competitively
Photo: 71-year-old Angela Copson who only started running at age 59 but who is now a multiple British, European and world record holder; was the first woman over 65 to run a mile in under six minutes and the oldest woman to complete a marathon in under 3hours 30 minutes. She has also received the MBE for her services to running. credit Alex Rotas
Growing Old Competitively opens Sunday 10 June to Sunday 19 August and features a new exhibition of photographs by Alex Rotas depicting athletes from Scotland and around the world who are still competing, winning medals &/or breaking records well into their 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s.
Each athlete is portrayed in action at their chosen event, including the sprint, hurdles, long and high jump, pole vault and distance races, often as they achieve a record-breaking or medal winning result.
Photographer Alex Rotas, who hopes the exhibition will challenge widely-held misconceptions about what growing older means and encourage fresh thinking on how older people can stay fit, healthy, engaged and happy explains: "I first became interested in photographing older competitive sports people when I realised that as a swimmer, tennis player and runner I was becoming one myself! Yet when I studied how over-60s are portrayed in popular culture, I realised it was usually as infirm, immobile, spent and sad. So I set out to capture positive images of active elders enjoying sport and soon discovered they are not a rare and exotic species; they are present in every locality and with a select few achieving times or distances that compare very respectably with those of much younger athletes."
Among the champions portrayed in the exhibition is 71-year-old Angela Copson who only started running at age 59 but who is now a multiple British, European and world record holder; was the first woman over 65 to run a mile in under six minutes and the oldest woman to complete a marathon in under 3hours 30 minutes. She has also received the MBE for her services to running.
Scotland's representatives include runner Phyllis Hands, 64, and Jim Smith, 73, who only took up sprinting five years ago to provide training encouragement for his grand-daughter, Amy Carr, now a champion para high jumper and a member of the Team Scotland squad for the recent Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Alex Rotas continues: "Not everyone can or wants to be an athlete. But I hope my images remind us all of what's possible as we age and force society as a whole to think again about our attitudes towards ageing. The 'masters' sportsmen and women in my photographs have all the lines and wrinkles that come with years but they show, too, that it is possible to look and feel wonderful without pretending to be younger than you are."