Japanese rider Hiroshi Hoketsu, who turns 71 this month, has just qualified for the Olympics in Dressage.
For Hoketsu, who is now based in Germany, this is old hat. He’s already competed in two prior Olympics. His first was the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, where he competed in showjumping and placed 40th. The second was the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where he competed in dressage and placed 35th in individual competition and 9th in team competition.
Had events unfolded differently (aye, there’s the rub for all of us), London might have been his fourth or fifth Olympics instead of his third. He did not compete in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles although he was selected as a substitute. He also ended up not competing in the 1988 Seoul Games, due to a quarantine issue with his horse.
But here he is, near the three-quarter century mark, ready to ride again at the Olympics.
Are you inspired yet?
Can you take even more Olympic inspiration?
That’s a good sport!
Prior to Hoketsu becoming what they’re calling “the hope of old men,” another Japanese competitor, Kikuko Inoue, became what I like to call “the hope of women who are still reaching their prime, like a fine wine,” when she competed in dressage at Seoul at the age of 63 years (and nine months).
It’s a little known fact, but the Olympics have been full of old folks. The oldest competitor ever was Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who won a silver medal in the 1920 Antwerp games. He was 72 years old (and 10 months).
If you’re inspired and you’re gray, it just might be time for a gallop, to celebrate. And if you’re not gray, just remember, you still have time to be the best horseman you’ll ever be.