There seems to be this general opinion out there among athletes and those who follow sports that once you're past 30-ish years old, your sports performance is on the downhill big time. In particular, in my sport of short track speedskating, it seems that there is hardly anyone over the age of 30 who competes at the national/international level. Heck, in Korea (currently generally accepted as the fastest short track skaters in the world), their unwritten (or written for all I know) rule is "two olympics and you're done". That typically puts athletes in the olympics around 17-20 years old for the first one, and 21-25 for their second one. On the other hand, there have been 30-33+ year old athletes (that I know of) who were competitive.
Just recently however, after talking with a coach at a clinic, he mentioned that the "you can't compete after a certain age" is mostly a myth. He said there's really only two differences between older athletes and younger athletes up to about 40 years old:
1) Slightly increased recovery times for older athletes.
2) Older athletes typically have lives.
Does anyone know any knowledge or data on this? He said it's still rather new information, everyone thought that people typically peak in the mid twenties and start going downhill from there, but that belief is starting to be disproven. I've heard questions about the decline of fast twitch fibers, but that's about it.
Then again, Jerry Rice played in the NFL until he was 42 years old, and he was known for punishing the crap out of himself in his workouts to get into peak performance.
Anyone else know anything on this topic?