Misty-eyed admiration surely welled in all of us watching a 13-year-old swimmer win her heat at this year’s games, or the 15-year-old Chinese diver demolish her competition in Thursday evening’s 10m final. But, it’s difficult too not to mix a tinge of jealousy into those emotions, when, at age 13, the majority of us were more concerned with Gameboys than smashing through 50 metre lengths.
There are no age limits at the games – in theory, you can compete at any age. However, governing bodies can impose age restrictions on specific sports. In gymnastics, for example, competitors have to be at least 16.
What’s remarkable to us is that this games marks the first time an athlete taking part was born after the millennium – these are athletes at the top of the world rankings who have only ever known the 21st century. Makes you feel a wee bit old, doesn’t it?
What an immense achievement it is for these tender-aged athletes to be competing, let alone winning, at the very highest levels. We look forward to seeing them again in 2020 – alongside an even younger generation.