Former world’s oldest Olympian Felix Sienra revealed secrets to long life

There are many lessons that one can learn from a long life Felix Fructuoso Sienra Castellanos.

The Uruguayan, who finished sixth in sailing at the Olympic Games London 1948was the oldest living Olympian until he passed on 1 February 2023, aged 107.

Sienra revealed some of his tips for living a long and healthy life shortly before he died, which focused around regular exercise, fresh water, healthy food, and a structured lifestyle.

“I have a coach with whom I do easy weight – and stretching exercises several times a week. Then I go on walks with my wife. I need to move around like I need air to breathe. On top of it, having a regular daily structure is very important for me,” he told the German newspaper Welt am Sontag.

“I get up at 9am, take a nap from 2 to 4pm and go to bed at 11pm. I don’t smoke and I don’t drink any alcohol anymore. Apart from that I am watching very closely what I eat. I hardly eat any meat and try to consume as little fat and carbohydrates as possible. Instead I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and drink a lot of water.”

In some ways Sienra was a man ahead of his time, and believed in the importance of both mental and physical health throughout his old age.

“One also has to train one’s mind,” he continued. “I am reading three to four hours every day. I am reading two daily papers and several magazines to be able to take part in the daily and political life. A day without reading is a lost day.”

Felix Sienra: A life in sport

Sienra was born in 1916 and watched Uruguay win the 1930 FIFA World Cup in its home city of Montevideo.

in 1934, he signed up for a regatta that was going to be held at the Yacht Club Uruguayo and enjoyed the experience so much that he decided to save up enough money to join the club and hone his skills.

Had it not been for World War II, Sienra would likely have participated at more Olympic Games. But once the war was over, he eventually won his place in the Uruguayan team for the London 1948 Olympics as the best Firefly sailor in his nation.

At the Games, sailing was hosted in Torquay on Britain’s south coast and Sienra prepared for his races with one assistant surrounded by more advanced sailing nations who boasted teams of technicians.

Unpeturbed by the inequality, Sienra famously quipped, per Plazadeportiva, to a fellow competitor that Sienra later realized was Juan de Borbon the paternal grandfather of the current King Felipe VI of Spain: “This is on land, on the boat we will all be the same: one person on each boat!”

The South American finished in sixth place, which remains Uruguay’s best sailing performance at the Olympic Games. The next best finish was from Alejandro Foglia, who came eight at London 2012.

Sienra went on to become a lawyer and served as vice-president of the Uruguayan Olympic Committee, as well as Commodore of the Yacht Club of Uruguay, from 1973 to 1975, and again from 2003 to 2005.

Demonstrating his love for life, the former athlete celebrated his 100th birthday with a multi-day sailing trip to a ‘paradise island’.

The title of the oldest living Olympian now passes over to the former French long jumper Yvonne Chabot-Curtetwho turns 103 on May 28, 2023.

The Cannes native finished eighth in the London 1948 long jump final and 23rd at Helsinki 1952.

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