The oldest Olympian at London Games

When Japan’s Hiroshi Hoketsu cantered into the ring at the equestrian dressage competition, he became, at age 71, the oldest competitor at the 2012 London Olympics. He was also the oldest participant at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

We know age is just a number, but his youthful and dapper appearance make it difficult to believe his first Olympic appearance was 48 years ago, when he competed in the equestrian show jumping at the 1964 Tokyo Games.

“The biggest motivation I have to keep competing is that I feel I am improving,” Hoketsu told the Associated Press.

After the Tokyo Olympics, Hoketsu earned a Master’s degree in economics from Duke University. While pursuing a 30-year career in business in Japan, horses remained his passion. He regularly started his day at 5 a.m. to ride before going to the office. Since retiring from the business world, he has devoted his time fully to his Olympic aspirations.

Watch Hiroshi Hoketsu in action as he gets ready to compete:

Hoketsu, however, is not the oldest Olympian in history. That honor goes to Oscar Swahn of Sweden who won a silver medal in shooting in 1920 at age 72. When asked if he will try to break the record at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, Hoketsu told Reuters that he worries his horse would be too old.

Sources: Associated Press; Reuters, Photo capture from