Japan’s Oldest-Ever Olympian Heading to London 2012

News & Views Sports - March 16th, 2012

70 Year Old Rider Plans for London 2012, Dreams of Tokyo 2020

Proving emphatically that age is just a number, Japan’s oldest-ever Olympian, 70-year-old Equestrian Dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu, is hard at work preparing to compete against the world’s finest horsemen at the London 2012 Games this summer.

Hoketsu, who has vivid memories of the Tokyo 1964 Games when he competed in his hometown at the age of 23 nearly a half century ago, still draws on his Olympic values to fuel his ageless passion for sport and the Olympic and Paralympic Movement.

Hoketsu, who will turn 71 at the end of March, explained: “I am exhilarated to participate in the London 2012 Games. I am extremely grateful to my horse, Whisper, who suffered an injury early last season but made a miraculous comeback with the help of my medical staff to enable us to qualify for the London 2012 Games.”

“I gave it my all at the Tokyo 1964 Games. Although I was too young to appreciate the magnitude of the occasion, my aspirations for the Games have never left me. This is why I was able to return after 44 years and compete in the Beijing 2008 Games. But I still was not done, so now I am looking forward to the London 2012 Games this year.”

Hiroshi Hoketsu

The living legend’s field of competition, Dressage, has a long and rich history. Occasionally referred as the ballet of horse riding, the sport of Dressage is a challenge of total unification between horse and rider.

“I have continued to compete at my age through persistent effort and by working closely with my horse, who is my teammate. I hope to demonstrate that regardless of age, goals can be reached through dedication and diligence.”

Tsunekazu Takeda, president of both Tokyo 2020 President and the Japan Olympic Committee, and also a former Olympian and leader of the Japanese equestrian team, said: “Hoketsu’s performance is very impressive and I am particularly aware of equestrian’s requirements for the world’s highest level of competition.”

“This dressage rider showcases the power of sport and its capacity to go beyond limits.”

“The inspiration that makes Hoketsu compete at this age is the same as Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee’s inspiration to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games to the Japanese nation.”

Expressing his support for Tokyo 2020, Hoketsu said: “Equestrian is quite popular in Europe and if the Olympic and Paralympic Games came to Tokyo, many more young riders would emerge in Japan, contributing to the advancement of the sport both at home and abroad.”

“In 1964, Tokyo demonstrated how the Games can create national unity and inspire fundamental advances in the host society. It would be fantastic to see this vibrant city host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

The Tokyo 1964 Games forged an enduring legacy of national unity, inspiration and innovation.

The Equestrian venue for the Tokyo 1964 Games, the Japan Racing Association Equestrian Park in west Tokyo, in addition to serving as a ground for training horses and horsemen, has also become a focal point for promoting horseracing and equestrian culture, and providing the public with opportunities to interact with horses.

Also, the Tokyo 1964 Games’ venue for Eventing (horse trials) northwest of Tokyo was the Curling site during the Nagano 1998 Games.

The meticulous preservation and continued active service of these facilities underpin the long-standing dream to draw on the enduring 1964 legacy and host the Olympic and Paralympic Games once again in Tokyo in 2020.

Tokyo is currently bidding for the 2020 Olympic Games, London 2012 opens on July 27.

For more information visit: www.london2012.com