This article will address the making and unmaking of elite sporting careers, by focusing on the media reporting of the rise and fall of two elite sport stars, Roger Federer and Lance Armstrong. Sport stars are not simply the raw, unmediated products of innate or mysterious physical ability. Their physical capital is constituted through techniques – physical and discursive – that reflect wider social and cultural values. In this paper I report on the role played by numbers (objective time, chronological age and physiological biomarkers) to construct but also regulate athletic careers. Numbers will be shown to have normative power that reinforces understandings of age and ageing within a narrative of decline. The athletes’ ability to challenge their subjection as old will also be explored.