As we near the end of July, one of the biggest events of the year is gearing up to begin: the 2012 summer Olympics in London! Beginning on the 27th, teams and athletes from around the world will compete in sports ranging from the traditional, such as gymnastics, triathlon, and swimming, to the unusual—like table tennis.
While we tend to think of competing in the Olympics as a youthful pursuit, an athlete from Japan is defying stereotypes. Hidecki Hoketsu, age 71, will compete in equestrian dressage with mare Whisper, who is 19 years old, or the equivalent of 63 or so in human years. In Japan, fans of the dressage champion call Hoketsu “the Hope of Old Men.”
In fact, seniors have a rich history of succeeding at the Olympics. Hoketsu will not even be the oldest Olympian ever. Sweden’s Oscar Swahn won his sixth medal at the age of 72. At the 1908 games, he won his first individual Olympic gold medal in shooting, at the age of 60.
John Dane III, America’s oldest Olympian in the modern era, competed in Beijing in 2008, but won’t be returning for the London games. He strived for the gold in sailing at the age of 58, and although he didn’t medal, he said that making the team and having the honor of representing the U.S. was his real goal, and said he had never been in better shape in his life.
In addition, many medalists, from swimmer Dara Torres (age 41) to marathon runner Meb Keflezighi (age 37) hope to continue competing well into middle age.
Tune in to the Olympics this summer, and get inspired by athletes of all ages and backgrounds as they display their talents and compete for the gold. In the U.S., you can watch the competition on NBC. For more information, visit www.nbcolympics.com.
Let the games begin!