London 2012 - Meet London's oldest Olympian

Wed, 07 Mar 12:39:00 2012

It has been nearly half a century since Japanese Hiroshi Hoketsu first participated in an Olympic Games. Now, aged 70, he has set his sights on the London Olympics after qualifying as part of Japan's dressage team last week.

Hiroshi Hoketsu dressage equestrian - 0

Hoketsu, whose first Games were the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in his home country where he competed as a showjumper, will be the oldest Olympian in London. He has already claimed that title for the Beijing 2008 Games.

At the age of 35, he had decided to change to dressage but did not qualify for the Olympics again until 1988, where quarantine problems with his horse meant he was unable to compete in Seoul.

He did make it to Beijing in 2008 where he finished tied for 34th place.

Last week he qualified for London by winning an international dressage competition in France, and on Monday was chosen by Japanese equestrian officials to ride in London for the national team.

"I am glad that I'm 70 now and still I can ride and I think with this dressage sports, because I'm doing the dressage sports, I could continue to my age and in that sense I think I feel the sport is very good for the elderly people," Hoketsu said in the German town of Aachen where he has been training and living for the past nine years.

When Hoketsu, whose diet is less strict than other athletes and includes a glass of wine in the evening, takes to the arena in London this summer aged 71, he will narrowly miss out on beating the record for the oldest ever Olympian.

Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who picked up his sixth medal in the 1920 Antwerp Games, was aged 72 years and 280 days.

Hoketsu, however, has no plans to beat that record with an appearance in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

"I don't think so. I think I am quite sure it is going to be my last Olympics. I won't say I'll stop riding after the Olympics, but I think to compete in the Olympics, it's going to be the last," he said.

It is in the stables in Aachen where Hoketsu cares for "Whisper", the horse he rode in the Beijing Games. Whisper is one of some 15 horses which he said he has used during his 50-year riding career.

During the past few months he was unsure whether the 15-year-old animal would be able to compete this summer, as it had been unwell and suffering from a cataract in its left eye.

"Fortunately in the middle of November I met a very good vet and he fixed it and she really recovered like a miracle," said Hoketsu.

The first dressage competition takes place in London's Greenwich Park on August 2, with the finals and ceremonies taking place on August 7 and 9.

Reuters

Comment 1 - 1 of 1

Sort comments by: Most recent | Most rated
  1. How INCREDIBLY AWESOME! Dressage Olympian at age 7!!

    From jolene, on Tue 31 Jul 14:06
Sort comments by: Most recent | Most rated

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account