Sitting next to me in The Times office is seasoned sports editor Archie Henderson. Balding, greying and wrinkling, he would be the last person to discriminate against someone on the basis of age.
But Archie quickly took a bet today against Michael Schumacher winning a single race in his comeback bid. Sure, Schumi’s decision to return to the track has sparked plenty of interest – even for me, not the planet’s biggest Formula 1 fan. After all, every sports fan loves a comeback – a la George Foreman!
Lance Armstrong’s return made the 2009 Tour de France far more interesting for me, and I’m sure many other fans. Armstrong did well, I thought. He may not have won, but coming third overall wasn’t too bad.
There’s always something intriguing when a great sportsman returns to the battle field, although I must admit I’ve heard a rumour of Corrie Sanders coming back to take on Fransie Botha. That would have been a great fight 10 years ago, probably even five years ago, but not now. Muhammad Ali’s return to take on Larry Holmes in 1980 was a sad tale too.
But it’s not only boxers who feel the urge to return to the limelight – swimmer Mark Spitz did it too (unsuccessfully).
In the case of Schumi, I agree with my colleague Archie – he won’t relive his glory years. Brian Mitchell made a two-fight comeback in the mid-1990s and afterwards admitted it was a mistake (even though he won both bouts). As Mitchell likes to say: “You can’t buy experience, but you can’t buy youth either.”
Good luck, Schumi. I’ll be watching, but not hoping.