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Maybe Hiroshi Hoketsu, the oldest Olympian, is just horsing around

August 03, 2012|By Kevin Baxter
  • Hiroshi Hoketsu from Japan rides Whisper in the equestrian dressage competition.
Hiroshi Hoketsu from Japan rides Whisper in the equestrian dressage competition. (Markus Schreiber / Associated…)

NEWCASTLE, Britain -- Japanese equestrian Hiroshi Hoketsu is the oldest competitor in London at 71, having made his Olympic debut in the 1964 Tokyo Games -- 21 years before Michael Phelps was born.

But the thing that keeps him coming back, he says, is the hope that he'll get better at his sport.

"The biggest motivation [is to] feel I'm improving," he told the Guardian newspaper after competing in Thursday's dressage individual Grand Prix event. "If I feel 'OK, I'm getting worse,' I will stop."

But Hoketsu, who studied at Duke University in North Carolina, concedes that age may force him to stop first. Not his age but that of his horse, Whisper, a 15-year-old chestnut.

"I want to return," he said in reference to Rio de Janeiro and the 2016 Games. "But I don't think I can. My present horse is too old for that."

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