70-year-old Japanese equestrian rider Hiroshi Hoketsu won an international dressage meet late last week to qualify for the 2012 games in London.
Dressage tests a horse’s ability to perform a wide-variety of athletic movements with minimal prompting by the rider. Japanese equestrian officials have said that they will decide soon whether Hokestu will represent his country at the summer games.
Hoketsu, who currently lives in Germany and turns 71 later this month, competed in the 2008 games in Beijing, finishing 9th in the Dressage Team Grand Prix and 35th in the Dressage Individual Grand Prix. Prior to 2008, he last competed in the Olympics in 1964 in Tokyo. (Hoketsu qualified in 1988 but was unable to compete.)
The oldest Olympian ever was Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who at age 72 won silver in the “100 meter team running deer, double shots” event at the 1920 games in Antwerp, Belgium. Eight years earlier, at 64, Swahn won gold in the “100 meter team running deer, single shots.” Swahn still holds the record for oldest athlete to win Olympic gold.
Here is Hoketsu, then only 69, competing in a dressage event at the 2010 World Equestrian Games: