At Gomero, we're happy to be inspired by others. When we embarked on a journey to promote the health and sustainability of our employees, the story of 80-year-old Åke Jonson became a particularly strong source of inspiration. Åke's transformation from being bedridden to becoming a multiple-time veteran champion in athletics demonstrates that it's never too late to start exercising and live a sustainable life.

We had the opportunity to speak with Åke, who shared his journey from being an early retiree at the age of 60 with arthritis and osteoporosis to winning over 350 championship medals 20 years later.

Describe the turning point, what was your thought process and which steps did you take to overcome pain and resistance?

"After deteriorating for several years, I eventually became bedridden because moving became too painful. Medications didn't help either. At that point, my doctor asked if I wanted to try a pain center in Lund for five weeks, which I agreed to. In short, the doctors gave up and said they couldn't help me. One of the doctors also mentioned that I needed to start exercising and build up my muscles to relieve the joints and strengthen my bones. At the same time, it would help me produce the body's own substances that contribute to pain relief.

Exercise and sports were not part of my world at that time. I'm not exaggerating when I say I was one of the few who had never watched a football match. But one sunny day, it struck me that I might try cycling. That's how it all began."

How have you managed to stay motivated for such a long time?

"My motivation and interests have changed over time. Initially, I trained with a regular bicycle. After that, I got a racing bike and started competing. Then, I found new motivation by taking up jogging and soon after, competing in running and cycling, i.e., duathlon. After that, the disciplines in athletics just kept growing, and now I compete both nationally and internationally. In this way, I have managed to challenge and motivate myself."

"What keeps you going?"

"The primary reason is that I don't want to go back to a life of pain. There are also many other reasons, such as enjoying it, establishing good routines, meeting nice people, and competing. I also feel very comfortable when I can get into my own bubble and jog slowly on the asphalt for two hours. It's a great feeling."

In what way would you say your journey relates to the question of sustainability?

"Today, almost everyone talks about sustainability. At the same time, it comes down to the individual needing to live sustainably. In my case, it's about feeling good through exercise and competition. Of course, there are many other important aspects related to sustainability, with our common environment being perhaps the most obvious. But the fact remains that if we as individuals don't live sustainably and take care of ourselves, the rest won't matter as much. However, sustainability's various aspects and challenges don't exclude each other. We have to work on multiple fronts to succeed."

Do you have any advice for others in a situation similar to what you went through?

"Seek help from different places and consult various doctors if needed. Don't give up; there is often someone out there who can help you. Try to break the isolation that can develop. Few want to socialize with someone who is feeling unwell."

What should one keep in mind when deciding to change their life?

"Take very small steps. My doctor told me not to wash the entire car in one day, just a quarter of it. Don't fill the entire watering can, just a little bit, and so on. The important thing is to break the cycle and get started, not to quickly compete or set records. That can come with time."

How do you feel about Gomero as a sponsor?

"My collaboration with Gomero has motivated me to continue competing until the World Championships in Gothenburg in 2024. I think it works very well. When you're my age, you value new friendships greatly. I feel proud of the collaboration."


Åke Jonson sponsras av Gomero

To enhance Åke's chances of continuing to compete, Gomero has recently stepped in as a sponsor, providing support with clothing, equipment, and entry fees."Due to financial reasons, I had considered ending my career this year, but now I have decided to try and continue until the Veteran World Championships in Gothenburg in 2024."

Åke Jonson Lidingöloppet

In October 2022, there was victory and a new track record in the world's largest cross-country race - the Lidingöloppet. "It's hard for me to grasp that, throughout the long history of the race, there hasn't been an 80-year-old faster than me."