Will Japanese equestrian Hiroshi Hoketsu make it to the starting line of his 13th Olympics, at age 71 – becoming the second oldest Olympian ever?

 (Photo by AP)

By Mike Tierney, Special to Universal Sports

Most athletes from Hiroshi Hoketsu’s generation took their ride into the sunset long ago. He is still riding, at 71, for the Japanese equestrian team and is projected as the oldest Olympian for the second straight Summer Games.

In the individual dressage, Hoketsu will sit astride Whisper, no spring chicken herself at age 15. Whisper was feeling the effects of old age from tendinitis late last year, jeopardizing her human partner’s Olympic aspirations. But Hoketsu, whose first Olympics was way back in 1964, found treatment for Whisper in time to qualify.

Hoketsu’s secret to sustained health is not really a secret: exercise and a moderate diet. His weight has changed little in a half-century, and his full head of hair still sports plenty of black amid the gray.

Hoketsu will remain second on the all-time Olympic seniority list, behind Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who was 72 in 1920. Hey, there is always the 2016 Games.

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