Proving that there is no age limit to vitality, two athletes hoping to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janiero are over the age of 70. Both olympic hopefuls are aiming for a spot in the Olympic sport of dressage.
Dressage is a highly-skilled sport with a military background dating back hundreds of years. Horses are trained to be ridden in a number of complicated moves, executed with precision and no visible cues from the rider as if by memory. Though these moves are based upon actions a horse would need to execute in battle – leaping over objects, skirting away from danger, backing up from an enemy while continuing to face them- the amount of training and dedication required leads to a sport that almost looks like “horse dancing”. It gets it’s name from the French verb “dresser” which means “training” or “to train”.
It takes dedication and drive, and a lot of physical exertion to train a horse to be able to compete in dressage at the Olympic level, but neither Michael Poulin of the United States of America or Hiroshi Hoketsu of Tokyo, Japan, are getting tired any time soon.
Michael Poulin is one of the foremost American dressage trainers and riders. He is a coach to other riders as well having raised and trained several of his own Olympic-caliber horses, and is looking to ride his most recent one himself this time, at age 70. He was a bronze medalist in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and is dreaming big for this year. “You bet,” said Poulin, head coach at the Pineland Farms Equestrian Center. “I’ve got the bug.”
Hiroshi Hoketsu is 74 years old, and has represented Japan in the Olympics previously, in 1964 and 2012. He was the oldest athlete on the field in the 2008 AND 2012 Olympics in London, and is hoping to come back yet again for his fourth Olympic bid. He is the oldest Olympian ever to compete for Japan, and is the third oldest Olympian to compete ever, next to shooter Oscar Swahn of Sweden who won silver in the 1920 games, and Arthur Von Pongracz, who competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympic games at age 72, also in dressage. If he competes this year, he will take the title of oldest Olympic competitor in history.
All of this incredible show of truly driven, vital, and determined athletes is something we can all learn from and aspire to, at any age. The next time you say to yourself “Oh, I’m too old for that” think about the fact that these two Olympic hopefuls, over the age of 70, may not only make it to the Olympic Games in 2016, but they may face off against one another this year.
That’s a show I would love to see.