In this article we look at the ages of Judo athletes and of Freestyle Wrestlers at the Olympic level, this follows on from the article back in March (2009) on the “Ages of medalists at 2009 Judo World Cup events.” in which the age of Judo athletes competing at a high level was briefly examined. In this article we look at ages of athletes in more detail and compare Judo against our Olympic cousins Freestyle Wrestlers.
In March the average age of a medalist was identified as being 24.95, looking at the larger pool of athletes in the 2008, 2004, 2000 and 1996 Olympic games the average age of a medalist in Judo is 25.54 for men and 24.99 for women.
Judo Gold medalists are on average 25.07. The other Judo medalists are on average 25.27. If we compare this to Freestyle Wrestling where the average age of athletes is 25.41 and gold medalists are on average 23.83 years of age.
What does this tell us?
One interpretation of this information is that grapplers at the Olympic level are in their mid twenties.
If we believe the theory that it takes 10 years to reach the elite level (as popularized by Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers book – UK/US) then we need to start working with young Judo athletes of 14/15 years. Obviously a 14 year old is not (normally) fully mature physically, so a long-term strategy needs to be implemented to bring the young athlete to the Olympic stage.
Having said that, if we look at the average age of Judo athletes over the 4 Olympic (1996-2008), we see the average age has actually crept up over this time from 24.96 to 26.14 years. The gap between gold and the average has changed too, from about three months in 1996 to 1 year in 2008. So perhaps the best players (the gold medalists) is not going up as fast as for the rest of the players? A simple examination does not make this clear, especially as the sample size of gold medalists is of course much smaller than the general population.
This is a small example of the sort of information this data can tell us. If you are a national governing body, do you invest your limited resources in athletes who will be outside of their mid-twenties? Do you target 14 year old athletes? This data can’t answer those questions, but with better research perhaps you could find the objective information to help make decisions in this area?
I shall look at the data in more detail but perhaps you’d rather do it for yourself?
I have uploaded my raw data at http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AqIP2spU5FrFdFR5UFdTUzdmaHVfc0FvUzZpLUR4YXc&hl=en
This simple examination of Judo data is an example of the type of activities coaches on the EJU coaching certification courses do. It is also an examination of the type that can lead to more through research which could lead you to the International Association of Researchers.
Data was collected from http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics