Hiroshi Hoketsu

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Japanese athlete’s bid to become oldest Olympian in history still alive

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Hiroshi Hoketsu, a 78-year-old equestrian, was included on a list published Friday of 17 dressage riders bidding for any of three spots on the Japanese Olympic team in Tokyo.

The Tokyo native Hoketsu is six years older than the oldest Olympian in history, Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who earned a team silver medal at 72 at the 1920 Antwerp Games. That age list does not include Olympic art competitions.

Hoketsu’s bid appears a long shot, given his International Equestrian Federation (FEI) profile does not list any results since 2012. Japanese media reported that Hoketsu has not met minimum entry requirements, which he must do by May 24.

The highest-ranked Japanese dressage rider is No. 142 in the world. Japan gets an automatic team place at the Olympics as host nation.

Hoketsu competed at three Olympics — the other time Tokyo hosted in 1964, then 44 years later in Beijing and again in London in 2012. Hoketsu was the oldest athlete across all sports at the Olympics in 2008 and 2012.

In between his first and second Olympics, Hoketsu earned a graduate degree from Duke and completed a career as a pharmaceutical executive.

He was not named to Japan’s team for the Rio Olympics after his horse fell ill, according to Japanese reports in May 2016.

The Japanese Olympic team will be named in mid-June.

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Hiroshi Hoketsu mulls breaking Olympian age record at Tokyo 2020

Hiroshi Hoketsu
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Japan dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu, who abandoned his bid to become the oldest Olympian ever in Rio, could see his career come full circle in four years.

Hoketsu, whose Olympic debut came at the Tokyo 1964 Games, is not ruling out attempting to make the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at age 79.

“If I can do it and be in Tokyo, that would be marvelous,” Hoketsu said, according to Reuters. “I have to see if it will still be physically possible.”

The oldest Olympian is Swede Oscar Swahn, who earned 1920 Olympic shooting silver at age 72.

Hoketsu, 75 and the oldest Olympian at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, sought to make his fourth Olympic team this year. It was derailed due to his horse’s illness.

After debuting at Tokyo 1964, Hoketsu went 44 years between Games appearances. He finished 41st out of 50 competitors in individual dressage at London 2012, according to sports-reference.com.

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Hiroshi Hoketsu abandons bid to become oldest Olympian ever, reports say

Hiroshi Hoketsu
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Dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu will not become the oldest competing Olympian of all time in Rio after his horse fell ill, according to several Japanese reports.

“I don’t want to push the horse, so unfortunately I have given up upon the dream of competing in the Rio Olympics,” Hoketsu said, according to Kyodo News. “There’s nothing decided about the future. First I’d like to prioritize getting the horse well again.”

Hoketsu, 75 and the oldest Olympian at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, sought to make his fourth Olympic team.

Hoketsu debuted at the Olympics at Tokyo 1964. Then he went 44 years between Games appearances. He finished 41st out of 50 competitors in individual dressage at London 2012, according to sports-reference.com.

The oldest Olympian is Swede Oscar Swahn, who earned 1920 Olympic shooting silver at age 72.

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