Why It's Never Too Late To Become A Sporting Hero

Just talk to Britain's oldest Ballerina​


Better late than never, that's the motto of Doreen Pechey anyway.

Pechey is 71-years-old and has just become the oldest woman in Britain to pass the Royal Academy of Dance's Grade 6 exam, after just 10 years of ballet lessons.

Students who usually pass this grade level are in their early teens and often have been dancing since they were 3-4.


This means Pechey is moving at the same pace as boys and girls a fraction of her age, despite having never danced before.

After a fulfilling career as an electrical engineer Pechey decided to join an adult ballet class when she was 61 and then moved on to private lessons.

She has long had a passion for ballet, but her family could not afford the lessons or costumes when she was younger, in the 1950s.


When she was growing up she used to save her money to visit the ballet at her local theatre in Southend-on-Sea.

Pechey has incorporated ballet into her daily life with three formal lessons a week and 30 minutes of practice a day on the barre in her kitchen, which she had installed.

The work has paid off, as well as having the accolade of being the oldest ballerina in Britain, she has dropped from a size 20 to a size 12.

Not only has she lost a substantial amount of weight, so much that people don't recognise her on the street, Pechey has now 'got better balance than a lot of people younger than me, and I'm stronger too.'

She said of herself, 'People always say I'm determined – you set me on a track and I keep going.'

We'll say, in her last exam she was a few grades off a merit and recently performed on stage at Reading's Hexagon Theatre in Coppélia, a ballet she loved when she was younger.

More important than anything Pechey said that, 'by dancing on stage, my confidence has grown.'

Pechey is our ultimate pin-up girl for following your dreams and there's evidence that claims regular exercise can trick and aging body into thinking it's up to 25 years younger.

If you look to the Olympics there are plenty examples of sports people getting medals and competing at older and older ages.

In Gymnastics, a sport renowned for its youthful contestants, Uzbekistan's Oksana Chusovitina competed this year at 41 years old.

Her first Olympics and Gold medal was in 1992, which is before most of her current contestants were born, and she has competed in every Olympics since.

Other ladies representing their countries are our own track and field athlete Jo Pavey, who is 42, and Australia's equestrian Mary Hanna, who is 61, proving that experience can often trump youth.

After the age of 30 women apparently start to loose muscle mass at a rate of up to 5 per cent every decade, so building muscle mass through exercise like ballet, gymnastics and swimming is a great way no keep your metabolism high and harness your inner strength.

There's no reason not to follow in Pechey's pointed footprints and you have everything to gain, so go forth, arabesques your way into retirement ladies.

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