Olympics Field Guide: Hiroshi Hoketsu, The 71-Year-Old Olympian

Name: Hiroshi Hoketsu

Sport: Equestrian/dressage

Hometown: Tokyo

Age: 71 (!)

Why you should care about him: I mentioned he's real old? He is. Hoketsu will be the second-oldest Olympian ever, falling just short of the record held by Oscar Swahn, a Swede who won a silver medal in shooting at age 72 during the 1920 games in Antwerp.

On the day Hoketsu was born, Virginia Woolf filled her pockets with rocks and drowned herself in the River Ouse, and Judy Garland performed live at the Shrine Auditorium to benefit the Greek Resistance against its Nazi occupiers. Seventy-one years is 25,925 days. He's old.

Olympic/world championship experience: Finished 40th as a show jumper in the 1964 Olympics in his hometown of Tokyo, when he was a sprightly 23. A mere 24 years later, Hoketsu qualified for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, but, sadly, couldn't compete when his horse was quarantined due to illness; he was provided a replacement horse only 24 hours before the event and did not place. Twenty years after that, Hoketsu tied for 34th at the Beijing Olympics, meaning he moved up six spots in 44 years. With any luck, he'll crack the top 30 before 2052.

Sexy pose threat level:

Olympics Field Guide: Hiroshi Hoketsu, The 71-Year-Old Olympian

Scouting report from some guy on the internet: User Zonderpaard of ultimatedressage.com:

This guy is amazing. His Olympic career spans 50 years? Wow.

I saw him at a CDI in Belgium years ago, sat next to him in the stands with his coach.

Did you know? His horse is old as hell too. Hoketsu says the biggest obstacle to him breaking the age record is not his own age, but that of his horse, Whisper, who will be 19 by the time the games in Rio roll around. In Beijing, Whisper was "spooked by seeing herself on the big screen," which seems like a strangely human reaction.

Scouting report from home country: Hoketsu gave an interview to Yomiuri Online which I ran through Google Translate. In response to the question, "The London Olympics Opening Ceremony? The goal?" Hoketsu said (roughly):

"The Opening Ceremony will be too much and want to leave do not think is" I called the horse ", so that Europe is home to the players and horses. Germany, the Netherlands is very strong, very nice UK, also in the United States, too big It does not say. if possible, from the World Championships Kentucky scored good results you want. over it, because you look away we do not say out loud. to say (laughs)"

Olympic archetype: Oscar Swahn, the old Swedish shooter

Forecast for 2012: Hoketsu seems likely to survive the summer games this year, and in doing so he'll prove an inspiration to old dressage riders everywhere. Also, though some say it's a "miracle" he even qualified, Hoketsu hopes for a top-15 finish in his event. Much will depend on the ability of his horse—"like a diva ballerina", according to this account—to stay calm in front of a big crowd.

Relevant Bob Costas facial expression:

Olympics Field Guide: Hiroshi Hoketsu, The 71-Year-Old Olympian