95 Years Old and Still At It – An Inspiring Athlete Elder

ARNOLD FORRESTER – ATHLETE ELDER

In life you occasionally come across an older athlete that inspires you. I’ve met a few in my game as a sport scientist with an interest in masters sport. As part of a new regular feature of our website, we will be bringing you interviews with masters athletes who inspire!

Our first interview is with Arnold Forrester (the better looking guy on the left above), a 95 year-old cyclist who I met and rode with in Townsville, North Queensland, Australia last Xmas holidays. As sharp a tack mentally and smooth as silk on the bike, this former World War II veteran fought on the Kokoda Track in New Guinea in 1942. He loves a chat and I loved hearing what he had to say. Enjoy the wisdom of an athlete elder!

Masters Athlete (MA):  What were you earliest cycling memories?

Arnold Forrester (AF): At about 8 years of age my father;s bike was sent from Daylesford (in Victoria) to Melbourne for an overhaul. From their it was sent to my family at Eildon in Victoria. I rode that bike until I was 14 years old, then father bought me a new racing bike and I joined the Preston Cycling Club until 1941 when I enlisted in the army.

MA: Why did you start cycling?

AF: I needed something to fill my time and I liked to be competitive.

MA: Did you have some cycling heroes and if so why were they heroes to you?

AF: Yes, a cyclist by the name of Bill Gyott who was the fastest sprint champion at that time. Also the Rowley brothers from Maffra who were the champion road riders at that time.

MA: How did you train in those early days?

AF: A friend and I trained 2 nights a week on Victorian roads. Our bike light consisted of miner’s lamps that burned carbide and water to provide a bright light.

MA: How do you train now?

AF: Three days a week I cover 100 km in total. (MA: When I rode with Arnold his 40 year old bike had a car rear vision mirror taped to his handle bar and his spares bag under his seat hanging by coat hangar wire. Frail in appearance, once he put his leg over the top tube and rolled away he was as smooth as a 20 year old on the bike. I sat behind him at 20 k/hr with the wind for 15 ks then I led into the wind at 18 k/hr home. We stopped twice. Once for his water stop, then again for a stretch of the calves and hammies at his favourite pole – a stop sign at a quiet corner. Classic stuff!)

MA: What 5 bits of advice would you give younger riders?

AF: 1. Keep your eyes continually on the road 2. Age is NO barrier 3. Keep your bike well maintained 4. Wear protective clothing 5. Enjoy exercise.

MA: What motivates you to get out of bed and onto the bike these days?

AF: A will to keep active and not ‘lose it’.

MA: Do you have any dietary habits you feel have helped you live such a long and healthy life?

AF: 1. Small intake of alcohol 2. A vegetable and fruit diet in the main, particularly green leafy vegetables.

MA: You’ve lived to 95 years of age so well. What are the key ingredients to ageing so successfully?

AF: 1. A successful marriage (MA: Arnold’s wife, Muriel, is a delightful and energetic woman. They live independently and are obviously still in love and sharing life together). 2: Good health 3. Low intake of alcohol 4. Stress-free living 5. Continual exercise.

MA: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

AF: The fewer worries one has the fewer troubles one seems to have. Don’t worry, be happy!

Editor’s note: Arnold gave me a copy of an original handwritten note from the Officer in Command of the 39th Battalion in New Guinea, Lt. Col. W.T. Owen when sending a despatch to withdraw to Corporal E.J. Morrison and his patrol to Kokoda. Dated 27 June 1942 0930 it read: Cpl Morrison, Withdraw patrol through me at Kokoda at 1000 hrs. Be careful that enemy do not catch up to you unexpectedly on bicycles. Arnold’s job was to run these despatches between the command and the front line – the result of him being so fit!