A week ago I had the pleasure of competing in the International Judo Federation Veterans World Championships in Ft Lauderdale, FL. It was an incredible experience. I competed in my first IFJ Worlds back in 2012, in Miami. In both instances it was in the next state, so, I had to go (whereas in between they were held in other countries).
What makes this tournament so cool, is that it is truly an international event. This years tournament had about 1000 competitors and 83 countries represented. It was a four day tournament. On Friday, competitors in their 60s and up competed (some guys up to the 80s). Saturday, the young guys competed 30-39, and Sunday, we middle aged guys (40s and 50s) competed. Monday was all about the ladies.
These veterans are amazing. I saw some old guys (I say that jokingly) in better shape that guys half their age. These guys would take of their Gi tops and they were chiseled and ripped.
When I go to national tournaments, there is a smaller group where one or two guys are really good. At the Worlds, everybody is good (about 30). I finished 7th this year and felt more competitive than I did in 2012. I have been successful in other combat sports (Taekwondo, Kickboxing, and Shidokan). I have been training in Judo sine the 90s and after retiring from the striking sports I have been working on my grappling game in Judo. This allows a competitive outlet for me and keeps me humble. In addition, I have competed in Karate Kata, and I even did an international kickboxing team event this past summer with a young opponent). I am 50 years old and feel like I'm 18 (sometimes LOL). I don't put the same pressure on myself like I did when I was younger. I still hate to lose, but I've learned to have fun and not dwell on it. At least I won't have the delusion of, "The older I get, the better I was". So always find a way to challenge yourself and make it fun and remember, you're a winner for getting out there in the first place.