Undercover Economist: Finding the prime number in the seven ages of man

It’s my birthday soon. I won’t confess to my age, although I am relieved to discover that there are still more people in the country who are older than me than are younger.

I am certainly old enough to worry about whether I’m past my prime. But that all depends. David Beckham is certainly past his prime and he’s younger than I am. Footballers peak at 26, if the winners of Fifa’s World Player of the Year award are any guide. Heavyweight boxing champions tend to win the title in their late twenties, although with a spread from 20 (Mike Tyson) to 45 (George Foreman). Sprinting is even more of a young man’s game: Carl Lewis first won Olympic 100m gold at 23, Jesse Owens at 22, and Usain Bolt at 21. The average age at which a male sprinter wins the Olympic gold medal is just under 24.

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