Amazing photos of senior competitive track stars with all the right moves

They're breaking records and breaking a sweat.

They're athletes from all around the world — agile, limber, and fluid.

A long jumper in the 80-84 division. Photo by Angela Jimenez, used with permission.


They move with grace and lightning speed, the wind in their hair ... or not.

Golden Bertram started sprinting at 55 years old. Here he is in 2007, at 65. Photo by Angela Jimenez, used with permission.

They are the senior competitors of Masters Track and Field.

Masters offers athletes ages 30 and older the opportunity to compete in track and field events.

These athletes are informally known as the "retirement division," but don't be fooled — they have no plans to slow down.

Pengxue Xu, the only decathlete in the 85-89 division. Photo by Angela Jimenez, used with permission.

Photographer Angela Jimenez captures these athletes in her project, "Racing Age."

A former athlete herself, Jimenez competed on the track team for the University of Pennsylvania in 1990s. She was drawn back to the track in 2007, when she heard about a Masters meet in Kentucky.

"I want it to be this beautiful homage to these athletes and their bodies."

In an interview with Upworthy, Jimenez described the stereotype disruption she hopes to create with her work: "To see someone who's 80, who's in the starting blocks with this look of absolute determination, in what you perceive to be a body that should be sitting in a rocking chair? It's really jarring. It's really paradigm shifting. That's what keeps me going back to photograph this."

The starting line of the women's 100 meter, 80-84 division. Photo by Angela Jimenez, used with permission.

Unlike in traditional sports photography, where speed is everything, Jimenez shoots on a manual camera.

Her Hasselblad film camera has no light meter, no autofocus, and only 12 shots per roll of film, a drastic change from the digital SLR cameras she's accustomed to using. And while Jimenez herself says the manual method can be kind of a pain, it's the perfect fit for this project.

David Yepa Sr. competes in the 1500 meter at age 74. Photo by Angela Jimenez, used with permission.

With the slower camera and fewer frames, she has to plan ahead and be more deliberate in what shots she tries to capture. She explained, "I want it to be this beautiful homage to these athletes and their bodies."

Male decathletes at the starting line for the 1500. Photo by Angela Jimenez, used with permission.

In her years shooting "Racing Age," Jimenez has gathered plenty of insight about living well from her subjects.

As she learned in her years of photography and personal interviews, few of the senior athletes come to compete at Masters as former track stars or even as lifelong athletes.

"They don't all have the same story, especially women and especially people of color. Women who came up before Title IX and people who grew up in segregation," Jimenez said. "They haven't had all the privileges of being an athlete since they were six and doing it their whole lives."

But while their athletic origins vary, many of the athletes share a fierce competitive streak, avoid alcohol and junk food, and have a positive outlook.

Joann and Barbara are sprinters in the 70-74 division. Photo by Angela Jimenez, used with permission.

Now she hopes to share their wisdom and athleticism with the world.

Jimenez is running a Kickstarter campaign to turn "Racing Age" into a hardcover photography book, complete with interviews. She also hopes to one day tour with the project and change the narrative around senior citizens, ageism, and how we treat our elders.

Johnnye Valien is a thrower in the women's 80-84 division. Photo by Angela Jimenez, used with permission.

"I ... always wanted this book to be about putting ... positive ... stereotype-disruptive imagery out, where older people can benefit," Jimenez said.

And from the looks of it, they won't be the only ones.

See more of Jimenez's photos in this video for the "Racing Age" Kickstarter campaign:

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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