We all want to believe that we can remain world-class athletes well past our prime, crossing up defenders in our corporate basketball leagues and diving for touchdowns in our flag football games. Some people can actually stay in shape for decades – and on stages much bigger than local gyms and fields.
Dr. Riley Williams, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery, knows what it takes for professional athletes to play into their late 30s and early 40s. "These guys who all played in these different sports for a long time really, really, really had to be focused and motivated mentally to continue to perform at a high level," he says. "Because physiologically, none of us are set up to do that for a really long, long time." Williams is the medical director for the Brooklyn Nets as well as the medical director and orthopedic surgeon for the New York Red Bulls. He spoke to 'Men's Journal' about some of the most impressive veteran athletes still playing today.
Born July 3, 1970, the 43-year-old Anaheim Ducks right winger is the oldest active NHL player. Thanks to 678 NHL goals, he ranks 11th all-time and second among active players. He remains an offensive threat in his 21st season, which he has said will be his last.
"Hockey requires a facile skating posture, so you have to keep your legs strong," Williams says. "You also have to have a strong upper body to shoot as well as to check and to fend off the other players while you're playing."
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