Knee surgery helps 80 year old achieve decathlon success

An 80 year old Guiseley man has recovered from keyhole knee surgery for a torn cartilage to win the British Masters Decathlon Championships in his age group – breaking an amazing five British records in the process.

Tony Bowman underwent knee surgery with specialist surgeon Mr David Duffy at Harrogate District Hospital for a torn cartilage (meniscus) that was preventing him from competing.

Since then Tony, who lives with his wife of 50-plus years Betty, has broken British records for his age group in the Decathlon as a whole, 100m, 400m and the high jump as well as the British and European records for 80m hurdles.

His time in the 100m was 15.1 seconds, and in the hurdles 15.2 seconds.

He has been active throughout his life, from school sports days on the Twickenham Rugby Stadium pitch where he grew up, to playing hockey and tennis and competing at county level in his speciality, hurdling.

Tony said: “I love the feeling of being fit. I have a young outlook on life and I get a lot of enjoyment out of being active. As well as athletics I also dance, grow vegetables and paint watercolours. I get a kick out of being alive!

“Surgery was a big worry given my age, but I was unable to compete before it. I get on very well with Mr Duffy who is friendly and has looked after me well. He’s done a good job.”

He is now aiming for the World Championships in Perth, Australia, next year and the European Indoor Championships in Ancona, Italy, before that.

Mr Duffy, Tony’s surgeon, is a specialist knee surgeon with particular expertise in sports injuries and knee replacement surgery. He has extensive experience in performing anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, arthroscopic surgery and knee replacements.

His busy NHS practice is based at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust where he treats general orthopaedic trauma and has an elective practice that is tailored to knee complaints.

He said: “For patients in their late 70s or 80s it is unusual to actually have this injury at all. It is more common for the knee to be arthritic at that age and keyhole surgery would do very little.

“However, Tony’s symptoms were consistent with a sporting injury for someone 40 years his junior so I decided it was worth performing the operation.

“We are increasingly seeing an older more active population whose expectations for life are higher. Having said that, Tony’s story is exceptional in what he continues to achieve. Naturally, I am delighted that he has returned to competing at such a high level so quickly.”