Following an attempt yesterday by six-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy to retire from professional cycling, the Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has immediately legislated to require all members of team GB to continue professional competition ‘until at least 75 years of age, preferably longer’.
‘Given the strain on the pensions bill, we simply can’t allow 30-something sportsmen and women like Chris Hoy to retire in their prime and with decades of their working life ahead of them,’ explained Mr. Duncan Smith. ‘And anyway, as a cyclist all he does is sit down for a living and follow the same tedious routine each day. How does he think retirement is going to be any different?’
Advisers for the Work and Pensions secretary have expressed their unease at sportsmen bandying about words like ‘retirement’. ‘We can’t have a position where a few years of achievement makes 37-year-olds think they’re entitled to live on handouts from advertisers and media punditry for the rest of their lives,’ said one. ‘It creates a culture of dependency. Besides, we don’t want nurses and teachers getting any ideas.’
Traditionally sports teams have been reluctant to field aging athletes, but Mr. Duncan Smith believes they have much to offer. ‘What the elderly lack in fitness, agility, enthusiasm, reaction speed, stamina, commitment, co-ordination and general good health, they more than make up for in experience. Just look at Vince Cable.’
The Work and Pensions secretary went on to confirm that his plans will apply to all Olympians, meaning Mo Farah will be expected to continue competing in the 5,000m and 10,000m events until well into his sixties and seventies. ‘We mustn’t be a society that lets age be a barrier to a successful career as an athlete,’ he said. ‘When his knees start playing up he can just switch to an NHS wheelchair and start competing in the Paralympic Games instead.’