Japanese athlete’s bid to become oldest Olympian in history still alive

OlympicTalk
NBC Sports

Hiroshi Hoketsu, a 78-year-old equestrian, was included on a list published Friday of 17 dressage riders bidding for any of three spots on the Japanese Olympic team in Tokyo.

The Tokyo native Hoketsu is six years older than the oldest Olympian in history, Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who earned a team silver medal at 72 at the 1920 Antwerp Games. That age list does not include Olympic art competitions.

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Hoketsu’s bid appears a long shot, given his International Equestrian Federation (FEI) profile does not list any results since 2012. Japanese media reported that Hoketsu has not met minimum entry requirements, which he must do by May 24.

The highest-ranked Japanese dressage rider is No. 142 in the world. Japan gets an automatic team place at the Olympics as host nation.

Hoketsu competed at three Olympics — the other time Tokyo hosted in 1964, then 44 years later in Beijing and again in London in 2012. Hoketsu was the oldest athlete across all sports at the Olympics in 2008 and 2012.

In between his first and second Olympics, Hoketsu earned a graduate degree from Duke and completed a career as a pharmaceutical executive.

He was not named to Japan’s team for the Rio Olympics after his horse fell ill, according to Japanese reports in May 2016.

The Japanese Olympic team will be named in mid-June.

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