News / Asia

Oldest Olympian Shows No Sign of Stopping

TEXT SIZE - +
Pia SalmreMatthew Hilburn
At age 71, most athletes have long since retired, but not Japanese equestrian Hiroshi Hoketsu. Instead of watching the London Olympics as a spectator, he’ll be competing as the oldest Olympian in 92 years.

Hoketsu started riding at summer camp when he was 12. He said he once grabbed a tree branch and used it as a riding crop. The horse picked up speed. It was a thrill that would affect the rest of Hoketsu’s life.

“That was the first time I was on a horse when it cantered,” he said. “It was great. I wasn’t afraid at all. That was really the start of my riding life.”

Hoketsu set his sights on qualifying for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. “It was my dream,” he said.

He qualified and placed 40th, but wasn’t deterred by the outcome. When he was in grad school in the United States, he was so dedicated that he even convinced his reluctant mother to send his riding gear from Japan. And throughout his long career in the pharmaceutical industry, Hoketsu said he’d wake up every morning at 5 a.m., go riding, eat breakfast and then head for the office.

London will be his third Olympics, after representing Japan at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This time, he will only be competing in individual dressage, a sport he likens to figure skating on horseback. Most of his competition will be decades younger.

He’s made some tremendous sacrifices to be able to reach the Olympic pinnacle, telling Yahoo News that he has not seen his wife in over a year.

He said he doesn’t expect to medal, but wants to improve on his performance at Beijing where he placed 34th out of approximately 50 entrants.

Hoketsu, who trains in Germany, said keeping in shape is a combination of pursuing the things that make him happy and, of course, keeping an exercise regimen, which he said is usually about an hour or so of stretching, muscle and balance work after a ride. He’s also a little more cautious while riding.

“I’m getting old, and I don’t want to fall off,” he said, adding that over the course of his riding career he has fallen many times. “I try to be a little more careful than I was before.”

Despite his age, Hoketsu won’t be the oldest Olympian ever. That title goes to  Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn who was 72 years old when he competed at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium.

Hoketsu could go for the record and thinks he’ll still be in shape to make a run for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, but says it’s his horse, Whisper, who will likely be too old. Whisper, who Hoketsu rode in Beijing, would be 19 then. The usual retirement age is 16 or 17.

Hoketsu said his immediate plans after the Olympics are uncertain.

“It depends how I feel after I finish,” he said. “If I continue to ride, I can’t take a long vacation. If I don’t ride for two weeks, it will take two to three weeks to really get back in physical condition.”

His advice for future Olympians?

“Continue to do one thing you like to do. I think that is much more important for your life than getting medals.”



Photo Gallery: Asian Athletes at the Olympics

  • Bronze medalist Choi Byungchul of South Korea, waves to the crowd during the medals ceremony after the men's individual foil fencing competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, July 31, 2012, in London.
  • South Korea's Jo Hyo-bi, center is tackled by Norway's Karoline Dyhre Breivang, left, and Lynn-Kristin Koren, right, during their women's handball preliminary match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Aug. 1, 2012, in London.
  • South Korea's Ryu Eun-hee, center, shoots the ball, between Norway's Goril Snorroeggen, right, and Lynn-Kristin Koren, left, during their women's handball preliminary match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Aug. 1, 2012.
  • Kim Kum Sok of North Korea competes during the men's 69-kg weightlifting competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, July 31, 2012.
  • A North Korea supporter waves a flag before the team's group G women's soccer match against the United States at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, July 31, 2012 at Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester, England.
  • Masashi Nishiyama of Japan, left, and Song Dae-Nam of South Korea, react after their men's 90-kg judo match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Aug. 1, 2012.
  • South Korea's Oh Jin-hyek shoots during an elimination round of the individual archery competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Aug. 1, 2012, in London.
  • South Korea's Chung Jae-sung, right, and Lee Yong-dae play against Malaysia's Koo Kien Keat, unseen, and Tan Boon Heong, at a men's doubles badminton match of the 2012 Summer Olympics, July 31, 2012.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: zatouichi from: japan
August 03, 2012 7:39 AM
As a Japanese,I resupect Mr.Hoketsu very much.
By the way," Hoketsu" means substitute player in Japanese.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid