Ronnie O’Sullivan has won his seventh Snooker World Championship, equaling Stephen Hendry’s record for the most world titles won in the modern era, but also earns ‘The Rocket’ the honour of being the oldest snooker world champion of all time.
How does this remarkable effort compare to those achieved in darts or other popular sports in their modern era?
Having turned pro 30 years ago, and with a 21-year gap since O’Sullivan’s first World Championship win in 2001, the longevity of the snooker legend’s career makes his accomplishments all the more impressive.
Currently aged 46, Ronnie O’Sullivan obliterates the record set by Ray Reardon in 1978 – the Welshman was 45 at the time – as the oldest claimant of snooker’s biggest prize. But who else holds the title of oldest champion in their sport?
Does darts measure up to the advancing age records and is it only the less physical or indoor type sports that see such records?
With this in mind, we have taken a look through the sporting history books, to reveal the oldest winners of some of the sporting world’s biggest events.
Phil Taylor, Aged 52 – Darts
Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor won his sixteenth and final PDC World Championship in 2013, seeing off Michael van Gerwen at the age of 52 to make him the oldest darts champion of all time and cap off a glittering career in darts.
Taylor’s sixteen World Championship wins are the most won by any single darts player. Factor in a further 70 PDC Pro Tour events, and Taylor is the most decorated darts player of all time.
As if that was not enough The Power then added a 16th World matchplay title ( perhaps the sport’s second most prestigious crown) in 2017 aged 56!
Roger Federer, Aged 35 – Tennis
Switzerland’s Roger Federer is synonymous with the sport of tennis, so it will come as no surprise that he is the oldest ever champion of tennis’ prestigious Wimbledon event.
Winning his eighth Wimbledon title in 2017 against Croatia’s Marin Cilic, at the age of 35, the victory was simply another crest in an already staggering career, which already boasts 20 Grand Slam titles. Even at the age of 40, Federer is still competing at the highest level – can he add a ninth Wimbledon title this summer and break his own record again?.
3. Dino Zoff, Aged 40 – Football
There have been older players to feature at the World Cup, there have even been older players to have starred in a World Cup final, but the oldest man to ever get his hands on the Jules Rimet trophy is legendary Italian goalkeeper, Dino Zoff.
Zoff played between the sticks as Italy beat West Germany 3-1 in the 1982 World Cup final. If that was not impressive enough, the then 40-year-old Zoff also captained the Italian side during the game and went on to be named goalkeeper of the tournament, to go with his World Cup winner’s medal.
4. Ronnie O’Sullivan, Aged 46 – Snooker
Recent years have seen the record for the oldest world champion in snooker’s modern era smashed multiple times. Ronnie O’Sullivan set the record in the modern era of the sport just two years ago, winning his sixth World Championship against Kyren Wilson, at the age of 44.
‘The Rocket’ did not have to wait long to raise the bar once again, recently seeing off Judd Trump to claim a record-equalling seventh World Championship at the age of 46.
The victory makes snooker icon O’Sullivan not just the sport’s oldest champion in the modern era, but of all time too, with Welshman Ray Reardon setting the bar way back in 1978 at the age of 45.
5. Jack Nicklaus, Aged 46 – Golf
The Masters is arguably the most prestigious event in golf, and the oldest player to ever win it is USA’s Jack Nicklaus, who staked his claim to the coveted green jacket in 1986 at the impressive age of 46.
Nicknamed ‘the Golden Bear’, Nicklaus is considered to be one of the greatest golfers of all time, winning a record 18 major championships during his career – by comparison, that’s three more than the great Tiger Woods.
6. Tom Brady, Aged 41 – American Football
It makes sense that the most famous and most decorated player in the history of American Football should also hold the title of oldest player to ever win the Super Bowl, and the legendary quarterback achieved just that in 2019.
Representing his beloved New England Patriots and facing off against a charged-up Los Angeles Rams side, Brady marked his ninth Super Bowl appearance with a sixth Super Bowl win, at the astonishing age of 41.
Incidentally, this game was the only Super Bowl in which Brady failed to make a touchdown, but that will not have taken away from his record-breaking glory.
With the improvement of medical knowledge and of nutrition and many other aspects of all-around fitness, it is likely that all sports will witness increases in their age records, career averages and other time longevity-influenced records.
Perhaps a Six of The Best purely on darts age records will be next.
Images: Darts – PDC / Lawrence Lustig
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