Septuagenarian dreams of Tokyo after Rio blow

Tue May 24, 2016 6:27am EDT
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By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - Japan's Hiroshi Hoketsu will miss out on a chance to become the oldest ever Olympian at Rio due to his horse's ill health but the 75-year-old remains hopeful of establishing the record at Tokyo 2020, some 56 years after his first Games.

Hoketsu, who made his Olympic debut in show jumping at the 1964 Tokyo Games before turning to dressage and riding in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Games, said a spot in Tokyo would see his career come full circle.

"If I can do it and be in Tokyo, that would be marvellous," Hoketsu told Reuters in an interview, days after he conceded defeat in his bid to reach Rio. "Four years from now I will be 79 and I have to see if it will still be physically possible."

Hoketsu's 2012 appearance made him the third oldest Olympian, with Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn currently the oldest when he competed at the 1920 Antwerp Games aged 72.

Instead of being in Rio this August, the soft-spoken Hoketsu, who has lived in Europe for 13 years, will be treating his horse Brioni W for a nagging cough and watching from afar with his hopes of a fourth Games appearance dashed for now.

"That's life, you can't do anything about it," Hoketsu, who rode Whisper in 2008 and 2012, said. "I am sorry for myself, ok, but that is the situation."

Brioni W, a 15-year-old gelding acquired a few months ago as Hoketsu focused on finding a competitive partner for Rio, developed a cough recently that would make combining proper treatment and attempting to qualify impossible.

"When a horse coughs they stretch their neck and put the head down," the Germany-based horseman said.   Continued...

Japan's equestrian rider Hiroshi Hoketsu speaks at a news conference in Tokyo April 12, 2012.    REUTERS/Toru Hanai