The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Octogenarian Tony overcomes health problems to become a world beater

30 August 2019

He’s had heart problems that would have held back many, but veteran Yorkshire athlete Tony Bowman heads off to Italy next week in search of more track glory.

Tony is 84 in September and has had two heart attacks and heart rhythm problems treated by specialists at Leeds General Infirmary.  It hasn’t prevented him holding 13 British athletics records and the world record for the 60 metres hurdles in the over-80s category – and he’s aiming for more.

His next challenge is the European Masters event in Lido di Jesolo from 3-15 September where he has further record-breaking in his sights in the 100 and 200 metres, 80 metres hurdles, relay and decathlon.2017-programme.

It’s all part of a packed life for the octogenarian that takes in sprinting, hockey, tennis, triathlon, heptathlon, decathlon – and he still has time to go ballroom dancing twice a week.

2 v2. Tony Bowman Medals2

But it hasn’t always been plain sailing for the man who lives life to the full.  Tony, from Guiseley, Leeds, has overcome health problems, conditions that may have clipped the wings of someone less fit. 

His two heart attacks led to him having stents placed in his arteries, and more recently he was treated at Leeds General Infirmary for atrial fibrillation - abnormal heart rhythm.  It occurs in two in 100 people, is a major cause of stroke and in a proportion of people has an impact on their quality of life.

It brought a brief halt to Tony’s activities, but, thanks to the cardiologists at the Leeds hospital, his heart is now back in normal rhythm and he’s playing hockey and competing in athletic events again.

3 Tony Bowman running

Leeds General Infirmary consultant cardiologist, Dr Muzahir Tayebjee, says heart rhythm problems in over-80s patients can sometimes be quite tricky, and different methods are used to treat them at specialist centres like Leeds.

“Our job is to try as best as we can to get our patients’ lives back to normal,” said Dr Tayebjee.  “Tony is a remarkable character and keeps very healthy so he has got everything on his side including drive and motivation.  His heart rhythm treatment has had a huge impact on his quality of life. 

Tony praises the Leeds doctors and says when he now finishes a race he’s just breathless like most people are – and not in distress like before his treatment.

His world record in the 60 metres over-80s hurdles came three years ago where he did the distance in 10.45 seconds beating the previous record of over 11 seconds.

This year he also played for the England Over-80s hockey team in an international against the Netherlands.

1 Tony Bowman hurdles

He’s also partial to ballroom dancing and does salsa, tango and jive at the Caroline Club in Saltaire, Bradford to a 17-piece band every Monday evening.

His athletic success has come about by constantly aiming high – and he has set himself one final ambitious target:

“My aim is to run 100 metres when I am 100 years old – and live to be 120.”