He’s over 70, but former Olympic wrestler Albert Aspen shows no sign of slowing down.
Four mornings a week, Albert swims 20 lengths at his local baths and walks up to 30 lengths in the water to keep his legs and lower body strong.
“Swimming works best for me,” says Albert, from Bolton. “You don’t feel the weight on your joints. It’s hard work though so it’s good exercise.”
He had surgery on both knees in 2000 and his hips in 2002 and 2003, and now walks with a cane.
“I’ve been in the roofing business since I was 15,” he says. “Doctors said crawling on roofs and climbing ladders have taken their toll on my body.”
‘Wrestling was my life’
Albert started wrestling at the Bolton Olympic Wrestling Club when he was 17.
“I was an eight-stone weakling at the time,” says Albert. “I gave it a go and took to it. The club had two former Olympians there so I had some good people to train with.”
Albert competed in the 1960 Olympics in Rome and four years later in Tokyo.
But although he was one of England’s greatest wrestlers, he couldn’t beat the wrestlers from the Eastern Bloc, who dominated the sport at the time.
He did well at the 1958, 1962 and 1966 Commonwealth Games, winning bronze at all three.
After retiring from competition, Albert worked as the British Wrestling Association’s national coach. He nurtured, among others, the talents of his son Brian, who won gold at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane.
“Wrestling was my life,” says Albert. “I don’t know how my wife put up with it.”
‘I’m very independent’
Albert stresses the importance of exercising, especially as you get older.
“You feel better altogether,” he says. “With the knee and hip surgery, it’s a bit harder for me. But because I was a wrestler I know what it’s like to push myself.
“If you’re exercising and eating well, you feel fit. It gets harder to be physical as you age but you stiffen up if you don’t do anything active.
“I try to eat good food: vegetables, chicken and lamb, that sort of thing.”
Albert says his regular exercise and balanced diet means he can remain independent and care for his wife, who has Alzheimer’s disease.
“I still drive my own car,” he says. “I’m very independent and long may that continue.”
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