Background: Wile many older adults are immobile, frail and inactive, others still participate in competitive sports. As in sprinting and endurance running, the world records of javelin throwing decrease with increasing age. It is, however, not clear 1)whether this ageing-related decline is linear or, as in sprint performance, accelerates beyond the age of 69, and 2) to what extent frailty-related changes in throwing technique contribute to the decreasing performance in old javelin throwers.
Methods: We plotted the current world records against age and assessed the performance of 27 male javelin throwers 70 years and older during three master athletics championships. Three to six throws were filmed, and the best throw of each athlete selected. A step-wise linear regression was applied to assess the contribution of age, angle of release, angle of attitude , angle of attack, elbow angle just before the pull and the number of steps in the approach run, to performance.
Results: The ageing-related decline in javelin-throw performance accelerated after the age of 69 years. Age was the main predictor of performance (adjusted R 2 =0.68), with a small contribution of elbow angle (adjusted R 2 increased to 0.76) and angle of attack (R 2 =0.82; all P<0.001) in the older athletes. None of the technique-related parameters correlated with age.
Discussion: The ageing-related decline in javelin throwing performance was accelerated after the age of 69 years. Although the technique had some influence on javelin throwing performance, the accelerated decline in 70 + -year-old athletes was not associated with an ageing-related change in throwing technique.