Ever hear the one about the dentist who became a world champion athlete?
During his school days in the 1930s, Charles Eugster competed in the Henley Regatta, a world-renowned rowing event held annually on the River Thames. You have to be an accomplished rower to get to that level, but Charles just saw it as a hobby. He gave it up in favour of a degree in dentistry. And not just one degree mind you, four of them. From four different universities.
He became Dr. Charles Eugster, and put his degrees to good use by setting up a dental practice in Zurich, Switzerland. He held dual British-Swiss nationality, you see.
One day, some years down the line, Charles looked in the mirror and didn’t like what was looking back.
So he took up exercise.
He started by joining a bodybuilding club. After a year there, Charles had lost 26lbs, gained a six pack and had a decent pair of guns to show off. Guns being biceps, of course. He also rowed six times a week to stay in shape.
A few years later, better in body and mind, Charles took up a new challenge… Athletics.
One year into his new sport of choice, with some proper coaching under his belt, Charles represented Great Britain at the World Athletics Masters Championships. He won gold in the 100m and 200m.
That golden success was repeated in the same year at the European Masters Indoor Championships, with victories in the 60m and 200m.
A remarkable feat for a man who spent his professional career was as a dentist.
You know what’s even more remarkable?
Charles was 96 years old when he won his gold medals in Athletics. He took up bodybuilding at 87.
At 97, a few months before passing away, Charles became a world champion long jumper. His aim had to become world record holder in the event, but he fell a little short of the distance.
“You’re never too old to start a new life,” he said.
He was an incredible old chap, was Charles.
I often wish I’d have started writing at 18, rather than working shitty jobs for 11 years. But that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I’m doing it now. I started a new life.
That thing you’ve always wanted to do — write a book, learn to drive, try stand-up, become a clown, join the ranks of professional ice cream eaters — the window of opportunity is always ajar.
There’s no such thing as being passed your prime, Dr. Charles Eugster proved that.