As well as showing that 59 could be the new 46, Tom Watson's Open Championship feats at Turnberry sent a clear message to all of the veteran, weekend warriors out there. No more excuses. Next time we think of age-related reasons to put the jogging shoes in storage, throw away the swimming goggles or eBay the mountain-bike, consider the following. Thanks to advances in training methods as well as enhanced recovery techniques and nutrition, it could now be possible to turn back the clock by as much as two decades when it comes to performance. Dr Raymond So Chi-hung, the Sports Science and Medicine Co-ordinator at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, says the shift in emphasis to conditioning and strength training is preventing many of the chronic injuries that once forced athletes into early retirement. 'With the right kind of programme, anyone can perform as well in their 40s as they did in their 30s,' So said. 'And with the low fitness levels of many young people today, it is possible for those in their 40s to have the same or better functional capability of those in their 20s.' Certainly, recent events seem to back up the theory the oldies can more than hold their own with the whippersnappers. At Turnberry, eventual runner-up Watson was trying to surpass 46-year-old Tom Morris in 1867 as the oldest winner of the Claret Jug, just 12 months after then 53-year-old Greg Norman led with nine holes to go before finishing tied for third at Royal Birkdale. 'Super-mom' Dara Torres, 42, is competing at the World Swimming Championships in Rome, two months after breaking the American record in the 50-metre butterfly. Twenty-seven years ago, she set a new mark in the 50m freestyle and went on to represent the US at Los Angeles '84, the first of five Olympic appearances. Sri Lankan batsman Sanath Jayasuriya, 40, plans to play on until the 2011 World Cup, almost 22 years after making his international debut. Lance Armstrong is headed for a possible Tour de France podium finish, two months before his 38th birthday and after going into retirement for more than three years. Jeannie Longo, 50, recently won the French women's time trial title for the eighth time. She finished fourth in the road time-trial at the 2008 Beijing Games, her seventh Olympics. Italian defender Paolo Maldini, who turned 41 in June, has just retired after 647 games for AC Milan since 1985. If they can do it, why can't we? So says the success of veterans in a wide range of sports is helping change societal attitudes about growing older. 'Ageing used to be a concrete concept that once you passed 30, you were old,' So said. 'But today we can see many examples which prove that ageing doesn't affect performance if you do the right training and conditioning.' Two years ago, I asked George Foreman about becoming the oldest world heavyweight champion in 1994 when he knocked out Michael Moorer at the age of 45. He said he was trying to smash stereotypes as much as 26-year-old Moorer. 'Twenty years after losing my title to Muhammad Ali, I got a chance to re-enter the ring,' Foreman said. 'When I knocked out Michael Moorer, all the 40, 50 and 60-year-olds around the world said: 'We did it. Look what we did!' It wasn't just me ... we all did it.' Foreman joked about his pre-fight meals consisting of cheeseburgers, but dramatic improvements in diet have also played a part in prolonging careers. A friend who played a season for an English lower league soccer club in the 1990s remembers the ritual after every away match - loading up the team bus with beer and fish-and-chips. 'There were never any recovery sessions and we also did lots of road runs in training which I believe contributed to my osteo-arthritis,' the player said. 'I believe if I were in the current era, I would have played for at least another five years.' Some argue that golf shouldn't be compared to sports like football or boxing because of its lack of contact. Turning 60 in September, the cerebral Watson outshone Tiger Woods, who was born in 1975, the year that Watson won the first of his five Open titles. Journalist Jason Whitlock wrote in the Kansas City Star: 'There is no other legitimate sport in which a 60-year-old could slay a field of 30-somethings. Is golf more an activity [like fishing and hunting] than sport?' Even so, credit must be given to the likes of Watson, Norman and 48-year-old Kenny Perry, who came within a whisker of winning the Masters in April. In 1986, when 46-year-old Jack Nicklaus collected his 18th and final major at Augusta, coming from nowhere to become the oldest winner of the Green Jacket, the sports world was stunned. Today, when fellow 46-year-olds like Vijay Singh and Colin Montgomerie are contending in big tournaments, no one thinks twice. Indeed, among the top 11 players on the world rankings, five are in their 40th year or older. As we pay tribute to the growing legion of old fogeys, maybe today is as good a time as any to re-start that long-neglected exercise regimen. If Watson can tame the Tiger after a hip replacement operation, anything is possible, right?