It’s lonely at the top. Newton Reed consistently wins gold, silver and bronze medals in masters-level badminton, playing other men 85 to 90 years of age. With few others in that category, he’s sometimes asked to go up against youngsters of 75.
The game isn’t as strenuous as soccer, which he turned to coaching after a teenager outran his then 53-year-old legs in a game. Still, he says, “Badminton requires more eye-hand-foot co-ordination than any other sport I’ve played. You have to be able to see the bird, know where it is in relation to your racquet, and your feet have to move to the correct spot to hit it. For me, that’s getting harder and harder,” he deadpans.
Reed had played at the game before enlisting in the army in 1943, but it wasn’t until 1971, as a high school mathematics teacher responsible for the school’s badminton team, that he started to take the game seriously.