Photojournalist Angela Jimenez has spent several years documenting track and field athletes of (potential) retirement age, focusing largely on those 70 years old and up.
The masters circuit starts at age 35, and pits athletes against competitors in their same 5-year age bracket. Jimenez was particularly interested in those competing well past retirement age.
A Division 1 collegiate track and field heptathlete herself, Jimenez said she went to a masters track meet out of curiosity, but ended up feeling compelled to take photographs.
She watched athletes like Christel Donley, and Flo Meiler, above, who were the only competitors in heptathlon in their age division at the World Masters in Lyon, France, this summer. They were also the oldest competitors. At the start of this race, the starting official failed to issue the second "set" command of the "on your marks, set, go" series and so were both disappointed with the results of the race. Officials offered them the chance to run again, but they declined. Still, Meiler broke the existing world record in the 80-84 heptathlon age division, the oldest category for which a record exists in this event.
"What I saw defied visual stereotypes," Jimenez said. "These athletes are not cute, or vulnerable, or weak: They are fierce and competitive. It can actually be a bit scary to watch. It's not what you are you used to seeing an older person do. It is inspiring and brave, but also uncomfortable."
Track and field is a sport about the concrete measurement of your skill, Jimenez said. "How fast can you run? How far can you throw? How high or far can you jump?"
Rev. Champion Goldy, pictured above, was photographed in 2007. He competed in a meet this summer at the Penn Relays at the University of Pennsylvania at age 98, where he ran the 100 meters race in 33.09 seconds.
Johnnye Valien grew up Houston, Texas, and became a track and field athlete at what was then the Tuskegee Institute. At 82, then living in Los Angeles, California, she competed in the 80-84 age bracket women's shot put during the 2007 World Masters Championships Stadia at Misano Adriatico Stadium in Misano Adriatico, Italy in 2007. About 9,000 male and female athletes over the age of 35 competed in two weeks of track and field events.
Part of what intrigued Jimenez was the changing definition of getting old. "Athletes of retirement age and older are living longer and better — they are continually breaking age group records for running, jumping and throwing that would have seemed impossible even a few decades ago," she said.
Don Isett, 76, of Anna, Texas, broke the National Senior Games meet record and the standing world record in the 75-79 men's pole vault this summer at the games in Minneapolis. He cleared 3.01 meters. The previous record was 3.0 meters.
Jimenez gathered the photos on a Hasselblad medium format camera using black and white film, which requires the photographer to work slowly and deliberately. "Metaphorically, it works for this project," Jimenez said. "It's a slower and older body to work with."
Decathlete Maximiliano Wong Moran, 82, on the second day of the men's combined events for the 2015 World Masters Athletics Championships, competed in the 80 meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and the 1500 meters. Combined events were scored using an international point table, and masters scores are age-graded so they are comparable across age ranges.
Athletes in this series, which Jimenez began in 2007, were photographed in Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, France, Italy and Minnesota.
Jimenez has a Kickstarter campaign to raise $25,000 to publish the project as a book. The campaign runs for three more days.
This summer's National Senior Games in the Twin Cities gave her a chance to work on it at home and to present the project to some of the athletes and fans who attended the games.