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Senior Olympians Compete, Inspire

'Age of Champions' documents older athletes as they compete for medals, and win a fuller life

When two 90-something men arrived by limousine at a movie screening in Silver Spring, Md., last year, the crowd sensed they were special, but didn't know why. It wasn't until after the screening of the documentary Age of Champions, in which brothers Bradford and John Tatum talk about battling through a severe health crisis and training to swim in the Senior Olympics, that the theater audience cheered the two men in their midst.

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That's what happens when people see this film about senior athletes — they feel they're getting to know some extraordinary people.

The Tigerettes, 65-75s years old, preparing for the gold-medal competition at the National Senior Games at Stanford University

Jayson Carpenter

The Tigerettes, 65-75 years old, preparing for the gold-medal competition at the National Senior Games at Stanford University

In this preview of the documentary, presented by special arrangement with the filmmakers, you can meet and hang out with these older athletes — the pair of brothers/swimmers, a 100-year-old tennis player from Cape Cod, a team of women basketball players who take no prisoners on the court, and a couple of Texas track and field stars.

In 2009 they all took part in the Summer National Senior Games, which brings athletes ages 50 and older together each year in statewide contests to compete in their age class in a variety of sports. Every two years, the best of these athletes meet in a national competition. The next such meeting is scheduled for Cleveland in the summer of 2013.

Gold medalists win no endorsements and enjoy no ticker tape parades. They take part in sports to stay in shape and to stay connected to their friends, communities and fellow competitors.

The film, produced by Keith Ochwat and directed by Christopher Rufo, is a welcome reminder about the place of exercise, fitness and health in a full life. And if you thought there was any lessening of the competitive spark in older athletes, the gladiators in Age of Champions will blow away your misconception. These people play to win.

Watch the preview, then go the Age of Champions website to find out how you can see the complete documentary and learn more about the inspiring athletes and the filmmakers. You can also discover the innovative way the film is being distributed, via community-based screenings, emphasizing the movie's message of fitness and health.

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