11 Older Olympians Still Going Strong
These Olympic athletes are out to prove that when it comes to the Games, age only means one thing: experience.
By Beth Dreher and Rega Jha
The first time Hiroshi Hoketsu participated in the Olympics, in 1964, Lyndon Johnson occupied the Oval Office and The Beatles dominated the Billboard charts. This summer, the septuagenarian will compete with his horse Whisper in dressage, a sport that highlights a horse’s obedience and flexibility. Hoketsu will be the oldest athlete competing in London, and the oldest athlete ever to represent Japan at the Games.
One of only seven Americans in history to compete in six
Olympics, Butch Johnson is sometimes three decades older than the competition, but his advanced age won’t stop him from aiming for gold in
London. When he’s not donning the red, white, and blue in international
tournaments, Johnson manages a shooting range in Connecticut.
Elizabeth "Beezie" Madden
In one of the few sports in which men and women compete
against each other, veteran horse jumper Beezie Madden has made a major mark on the record books. Madden was the first woman to earn more
than $1 million in prize money; the first woman and the first American to reach
the top 3 in the Show Jumping world rankings; and the first athlete to twice win
the Whitney Stone Cup, a prize that awards excellence in competition and
sportsmanship. Madden will compete in London, her third appearance at
the Olympic games, on her horse Coral Reef Via Volo.
After failing to qualify for the last three Olympics,
experienced marksman Eric Uptagraftt will compete in the 50m prone rifle contest in London, as one of the oldest members
of the USA Shooting squad. (Coincidentally, his wife Sandra will vie for a medal in the Sport
Pistol category.) When he's not competing, Uptagrafft is the rifle
instructor for the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, and he has served the U.S. in Kuwait and Afghanistan.
This double-Olympic gold medalist and world record holder will represent Australia in the Olympics for the sixth time this summer. His longevity may be due in part to the efficient way he trains, making practice "not about quantity but more about quality," he has said.
Sport: Men's beach volleyball
Since 1997, when Todd Rogers was named AVP Rookie of the Year, the 6'2'' setter has racked up the honors. The "God of the Beach" won gold with partner Phil Daulhausser in 2008, and over his 20-year career has tallied 72 wins, the most of any active male player. Age hasn't slowed Rogers down—the man nicknamed "The Professor," will make his third Olympics appearance this month.
Country: Great Britain
Soccer legend Ryan Giggs has been playing the game professionally since the age of 14, when he signed with the English Premier League team Manchester United on his birthday. More than two decades later, the powerful midfielder will top off his illustrious career as the captain of the Great Britain soccer team at the London Olympics.
Sport: Track & Field
At age 38, most runners have taken their athletic careers well past the finish line. But Kenyan-American Bernard Lagat, who holds seven American middle-distance records, qualified for his fourth Olympic games last month when he placed second—to 26-year-old Galen Rupp—at the Olympic Trials in the 5,000 meters.
Sport: Track & Field (High Jump)
High-jumper Amy Acuff competed at her first Olympics when
she was just 16 years old. Two decades later, she’s headed back to the Games for the fifth time. "I was on the circuit 20 years ago competing
internationally," said Acuff, a licensed acupuncturist. "It's like
death, taxes and me."
Country: Great Britain
Sport: Track Cycling
After winning gold in Athens in 2004, Chris Hoy dominated the competition at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, scooping up three gold medals in a performance that earned him knighthood. The Scot hopes to continue his roll in London and has said he’ll retire after the games.
Sport: Women's field hockey
As one of the most decorated athletes in Argentinian Olympic history, with a bronze win in 2004 and 2008 and silver in 2000, the veteran midfielder will compete in her fourth Games this summer, first raising the blue and white as the flag-bearer for her country in the opening ceremony.
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