Most experienced Olympian in history retires at age 72

Ian Millar
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Canadian equestrian Ian Millar, who competed in a record 10 Olympics, retired from international show jumping competition at age 72 to to focus on coaching and developing young horses.

“Representing Canada many times over my career has been my greatest honor,” Millar said in a press release. “Each time I wore the red team jacket was very special to me, and the fact that I was able to share this experience with so many great riders is a testament to the quality of horsemen and horsewomen here in our country.

“It has been the journey of a lifetime with so many dreams realized, so much due to the fantastic horses I was blessed to ride, to whom I am eternally grateful.”

Millar, known as “Captain Canada,” competed in every Olympics from 1972 through 2012 (he was named to the 1980 Olympic team but didn’t compete due to a boycott), earning one medal, a team silver at Beijing 2008.

His Rio 2016 hopes were doomed when it was announced two months before the Games that his primary horse, Dixson, had undergone sinus surgeries and would be unavailable.

Millar’s daughter, Amy, made her Olympic debut in Rio at age 39, helping Canada to a fourth-place finish in the mixed jumping team event.

If Millar continued on and made the Tokyo Olympics, he would have broken the record for oldest Olympian, not counting art competitions. Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn was 72 at the 1920 Antwerp Games.

Latvian shooter Afanasijs Kuzmins and Austrian sailor Hubert Raudaschl each competed at nine Olympics, according to the OlyMADMen. Georgian shooter Nino Salukvadze recently qualified for her ninth Olympic team in Tokyo.

Retired equestrian J. Michael Plumb holds the U.S. record of seven Olympic participations, which shooter Kim Rhode can tie in Tokyo.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

Sifan Hassan
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Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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