Oldest Olympian sits tall in saddle

Japan's Hiroshi Hoketsu , at 71 the oldest competitor at the London Games, waves to crowd atop 15-year-old Whisper.
Japan's Hiroshi Hoketsu , at 71 the oldest competitor at the London Games, waves to crowd atop 15-year-old Whisper. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: August 03, 2012

YOU GOTTA love Hiroshi Hoketsu.

The 71-year-old equestrian, who competes for Japan, is the oldest Olympian at the Games.

On Thursday, he and his horse, Whisper, competed in the Grand Prix dressage event at Greenwich Park.

Hoketsu and his 15-year-old mare scored 68.72 percent, placing them out of medal contention.

"I made two or three mistakes, which I shouldn't have," he said.

The London Games are Hoketsu's third Olympics. He debuted in the 1964 Tokyo Games and also competed in 2008 in Beijing.

Why the lull between Games?

After Tokyo, Hoketsu earned a degree from Duke University and pursued a business career in Japan. He started competing again after he retired.

Surprisingly, he still feels he has a lot to learn about the sport.

"The biggest motivation I have to keep competing is that I feel I am improving," Hoketsu said.

Hoketsu is the second-oldest Olympian ever behind Oscar Swahn, a silver medalist in shooting in 1920 at age 72.

He'll have a chance to pass Swahn at the 2016 Rio Games, but doesn't see it happening.

"I want to but I can't," Hoketsu said. "It's difficult to find a horse, and mine is now too old."

- Tom Mahon

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