Age No Excuse For 80-year-old Athlete

29 Nov 2018 08:10am
By Maggy Thomas

WINDHOEK, 29 NOV (NAMPA) - In life, he has achieved every milestone he set for himself. Professionally, he signed off as an environment management expert.
However, 20 years after retirement, Bill Jooste refuses to sit at home idle.
The 80-year old is still involved in challenging sport activities.
In an exclusive interview with Nampa recently, the veteran Desert Dash mountain bike participant says age is just a number.
“Sport has always been my passion, especially endurance events. Running marathons and ultra-marathons in particular. I loved triathlons in the half ironman events of which I completed quite a number,” he says passionately.
Jooste is looking forward to participate for the 8th time in the upcoming Desert Dash this year, for which he hopes to go up to the finish line.
“On 07 December, I will be at the starting line for my 8th time,” he states firmly, without elaborating whether this event will be his last participation due to his advanced age.
The Desert Dash takes participants over a 369-kilometre journey from Windhoek to Swakopmund. The cycling race requires extreme endurance as it comprises short, steep climbs and descents over valleys and rivers of the Khomas Hochland as well as sandy patches and steep crests in the Namib
Desert towards Swakopmund.
Jooste does not bother to daydream while cycling.
“My bike technique is very poor; even just getting on and off my bike is already very technically faulty, so I have to focus,” he quips.
Jooste has so far completed over 200 marathons including 11 Comrades, 20 Two Oceans and ultra-marathons.
The consequences of so much running eventually ended in injury to his knees.
“So these days I do mostly mountain biking”.
The Desert Dash extreme endurance race has challenged him over the past years.
“I find this event very hard to complete in the allotted time and this reason gives me the necessary motivation to take on the challenge”.
Still, his preparation for the event has not gone as he would have liked.
Jooste was forced to take a six-week break in August/September for eye surgery but is confident that his training is nearly on track again.
Being able to participate in sporting events with other enthusiastic younger athletes gives the octogenarian much satisfaction and to him, age then becomes less of a factor.
“I do not believe age should be an excuse not to participate in sporting events although there are limitations to bear in mind. One has to accept that physically the body is more fragile and takes longer to recover than 20-odd years ago”.
He believes mental preparation for extreme endurance events like the Desert Dash is probably more important than physical.
“On this account, age might well be an advantage,” he chuckles.
Asked about his dream, Jooste had this to say: “I have reached my milestones and passion and enthusiasm is what keep me going”.
The elder dreams of doing more adventurous things, like climbing Kilimanjaro or trail-running in remote places.
After climbing off his bike for good, Jooste hopes to be remembered for saying 'age should not be a factor when you choose to participate in any challenging activity”.
He said support from family and friends, which he got plenty of, has always been very valuable to him during his sport activities.
“Not forgetting being blessed with a healthy body”.
Jooste lives in Walvis Bay with his wife, Babs Jooste.
They have three sons and a daughter and are blessed with nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Jooste's work experience:
* started as a chemical analyst in mining laboratories, later managing chemical and metallurgical laboratories for large mining operations.

* moved to environmental management and occupational health for these companies, establishing departments in order to assess the effects of the operations on workers and the environment.

* prior to his retirement, he worked for a number of years for a large mining operation adjacent to the Kruger National Park as manager for health, safety, environment and quality activities for the company. There he worked closely with the Kruger National Park scientists on potential risks to the environment from a large mining operation.