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Negotiations of the ageing process: Older adults’ stories of sports participation.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the talk of older athletes, with particular focus on how the context of sport helps them negotiate the ageing process. It draws on personal stories provided by 44 World Masters Games competitors (23 women; 21 men; aged 56–90 years; M = 72). Four themes emerged: ‘There’s no such thing as old’ (a story of avoiding old age); ‘Keep moving’ (a story of fighting the ageing process); ‘Fun, fitness, friendship … [and] competing’ (a story of redefining self and ‘old age’) and; ‘Making the most of your life … with the capabilities that you still have’ (a story of adaptation and acceptance). Together, the four themes show how through sports participation older individuals can simultaneously resist, redefine and accept the ageing process. These stories of a ‘sporting later life’ allow for alternative meanings to the dominant ‘declining body’ narrative of ageing. Therefore, these narratives present the possibility for personal, pedagogical and social transformation.