Friday, February 08, 2008

Olympian dreams of comeback at 66

A Japanese equestrian competitor looks set to take part in the Beijing Olympics - four decades after first appearing in the Tokyo Games.

Hiroshi Hoketsu, now 66, is aiming to be in Japan's Beijing dressage team later this year.

He came 40th in the show-jumping at the Tokyo Games of 1964 - the last time he took part in an Olympic event.

If all goes according to plan, he will become the oldest Olympic representative in Japanese history.

Japan Equestrian Federation head Azusa Kitano said it was more than likely Mr Hoketsu would take part in the dressage, which is being staged in Hong Kong.

"He will be in the team dressage," said Mr Kitano. "He hasn't been at an Olympics since 1964, which was 44 years ago, but he has continued riding all this time."


Mr Hoketsu, now based in Germany, was selected for Japan's dressage team for the Seoul Olympics in 1988, but decided not to take part because of quarantine problems with his horse.

He changed from show jumping to dressage in his 30s.

Japan Olympic chief, Tsunekazu Takeda, said: "He's up at 5 am every day. He's what horse riding is all about. I want to congratulate him with all my heart."

Japan is expected to officially name its Olympic team next week.

The oldest ever Olympic competitor was the Swedish shooter, Oscar Swahn, who took part in the Antwerp Games of 1920 at the age of 72.

He won silver - his sixth Olympic medal - in the running deer double-shot team event.

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