A GREAT-GRANDFATHER and Olympian who rows competitively with York City Rowing Club marked his 80th birthday doing what he loves best.

Dick Gradley, who was captain of the British gymnastics team at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, started rowing at the same time he started drawing his pension at the age of 65 and still competes with the club – last weekend taking part in the Yorkshire Head Of The River race in York.

Mr Gradley said: “I have had a great time with the rowing club. I never think of age, I just carry on every year. Age is only a number.

“I will keep rowing for as long as I can. At the moment I keep doing things with the same enthusiasm as when I was a youngster. Movement is the most important thing in life – once you start staying still you are on the slippery slope.”

It is a continuation of a very active lifestyle for Mr Gradley who captained the Olympic team as well as the gymnastics teams sent to the World Championships in Moscow in 1958 and to Prague in 1962.

He later went on to become a gymnastics coach at the Athletics Institute in Leeds and as assistant national coach, taking teams to numerous international competitions.

Mr Gradley still works as a fitness instructor in Leeds and Wetherby, where he lives. He plans to celebrate his birthday with his fitness group and with his wife, Joan.

John Sparrow, the joint secretary of York City Rowing Club, said: “He is a role model and a wonderful guy to have around.

“He is an example to us all.”

The rowing club is keen to encourage people to come back to rowing or for people to take it up in their retirement. For more information, visit ycrc.co.uk