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Five elite veteran sports stars still competing at top level ahead of Bernard Hopkins’ final fight

Lee Gormley | 18 December 2016

Five elite veteran sports stars still competing

The career of a professional athlete can be a short one, with many suffering from injury problems, a struggle for form in their later years or simply losing the appetite and desire for competing.

Although, there are some exceptions throughout the world of sport, with some being able to prolong their respective time at the top level into the latter stages of their careers, becoming veterans of their trades.

Hopkins will call time on his remarkable career when facing Smith Jr.

Hopkins will call time on his remarkable career when facing Smith Jr.

One such athlete is boxing legend Bernard Hopkins, with the now 51-year-old incredibly preparing to take to the ring for his 67th and final fight of his stellar career.

The Philadelphian has been world champion at both light-heavyweight and middleweight, boasting the longest ever reign in the latter division with 20 successful defences during over a decade, and is also the oldest fighter to be win a world title.

Despite his advanced age, Hopkins is still regarded as the odds-on 4/11 favourite to overcome a much younger Joe Smith Jr (9/4 to win) in his upcoming final bout.

Ahead of ‘the Alien’s’ career curtain call, Coral look at another five elite veteran sports stars still competing at the top level in their respective fields.

Francesco Totti

Totti has enjoyed a supreme career and is a legend of the sport.

Totti has enjoyed a supreme career and is a legend of the sport.

Simply a legendary figure in Rome, Totti began his senior career with Roma back in 1993 and has been at the heart of the club’s success since, as he still captains the side today when involved.

The 40-year-old Serie A forward has bagged over 300 goals across well over 700 appearances in Italy, winning the Serie A and Coppa Italia with his club and the 2006 World Cup with his country.

Totti is also the oldest goalscorer in Champions League history and is showing no signs of slowing down at the Stadio Olimpico.

Ronnie O’Sullivan

O'Sullivan is still the leading man in snooker at the age of 41.

O’Sullivan is still the leading man in snooker at the age of 41.

When it comes to mastering a sport at an advanced age, look no further than five-time snooker world champion O’Sullivan, as he continues to showcase his remarkable baize talents following his 41st birthday.

Despite being older than the majority of the current leading lights of the sport, the Rocket is constantly regarded as the favourite for each passing ranking tournament he enters.

With 28 ranking event wins in his illustrious career, O’Sullivan looks more than capable of adding to his impressive tally in 2017, as he tracks down another Crucible crown to edge towards Stephen Hendry’s record of seven victories.

Valentino Rossi

Rossi is another on our list who has continued fine form into the latter stages of his career.

Rossi is another on our list who has continued fine form into the latter stages of his career.

Widely hailed as the greatest motorcyclist in history, Rossi has enjoyed a highly decorated career with no less than nine Grand Prix World Championships to his name.

The Italian is now 37 years of age but has proved he can still mix it with the younger guns and current stars of the sport such as Spaniard Marc Marquez.

Serena Williams

Williams has maintained her dominance in women's tennis throughout a remarkable career.

Williams has maintained her dominance in women’s tennis throughout a remarkable career.

Despite being 35 years of age, American superstar Williams has maintained her dominance of women’s tennis and currently boasts the most major title victories of any other player in the sport, male or female.

The Michigan-born racket queen is the only player to have won 10 Grand Slam singles titles in two separate decades and her superiority looks set to continue for some time as she still looks head and shoulders above everyone else.

Phil Taylor

Taylor also features on our list of five elite veteran sports stars still competing at the top level.

Taylor also features on our list of five elite veteran sports stars still competing at the top level.

Darts may not be the most athletic sport, but the precision, concentration and mentality needed to succeed at the top level for so long is what makes 16-time world champion Taylor.

Taylor, now 56 years of age, has clinched a mammoth 84 major honours throughout his long-standing career, including eight successive world crowns from 1995 to 2002.

The Power’s dominance and maintained form down the years is a testament to the dedication shown to his craft, though he has faced an uprising of threatening talent and challengers in more recent seasons.

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