The 10 oldest athletes at the Tokyo Olympics


The sports world tends to be obsessed with youth. Well, the world in general is obsessed with youth, but maybe it’s fair to say sport in particular. At the Tokyo Summer Olympics, for example, sports fans were bowled over by young pre-teen athletes competing on the world stage. But let’s make a case for longevity, shall we? The oldest athletes at the Tokyo Olympics are all kinds of inspiration. They bring years of experience in their respective sports, and perhaps most impressive? They keep showing up to do the job.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were unusual for many different reasons, including the fact that they took place in 2021 due to delays from Covid-19. In addition to this, several new sports have also been added such as skateboarding, surfing, karate, sport climbing and baseball. With all of these new sports come new athletes. Some very young, and some a little older than their competitors. Proving age is really just a number.

Mary Hanna, Australia, 66

Mary Hanna is the oldest Olympic athlete this year.BEHROUZ MEHRI / AFP / Getty Images

Australian Mary Hanna is Tokyo’s oldest Olympic athlete at 66. As an equestrian, she made her debut at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 in the dressage category and went on to compete in five more games, including this year. When not participating in equestrian competitions, she is at home in Australia spending time with her children and grandchildren.

Abdelkebir Ouaddar, Morocco, 59 years old

Abdelkebir Ouaddar is a Moroccan horseman.Christian Liewig – Corbis / Corbis Sport / Getty Images

Moroccan Abdelkebir Ouaddar competes in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in team and individual jumping at 59 years old. He first competed in the 2016 Olympics in Rio and is in fact an adopted member of the Moroccan royal family. He learned to ride as a teenager alongside the royals, and yes, that’s very impressive.

Ni Xialian, Luxembourg 57

Ni Xialian is a table tennis player.Xinhua News Agency / Xinhua News Agency / Getty Images

Luxembourgish Ni Xialian broke records as an Olympic table tennis player. She first won the World Championship title in Tokyo in 1983, and is back after five Olympics to compete again at the age of 57. She spoke to Tokyo 2020 on mentoring the younger generation, explaining, “It’s a good and interesting relationship. They listen to a lot of my stories. I play different roles with them: I am a mom, sister, aunt, teacher or coach. “

Phillip Dutton, United States, 57

Phillip Dutton is a six-time Olympian.Brendan Moran / Sportsfile / Getty Images

Phillip Dutton, another Australian-turned-American rider, is a six-time Olympian at 57. He moved to the United States when he was 27 and had ridden for years on the family sheep and cattle farm. He then made his Olympic debut at the Atlanta Games in 1996, and the rest is history. So far, at least.

Nino Salukvadze, Georgia, 52

Nino Salukvadze from Georgia.Clive Brunskill / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Nino Salukvadze is a 52-year-old sports shooter from Georgia who competes in the Tokyo Olympics. This is his ninth Olympics, initially competing at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. What makes this year different for Salukvadze? She and her son, Tsotne Machavariani, will shoot. In fact, she is even considering another Olympic Games in Paris in three years at the request of her son, as reported by Reuters.

Oksana Chusovitina, Uzbekistan, 46 years old

Oksana Chusovitina is a gymnast from Uzbekistan.LOIC VENANCE / AFP / Getty Images

Oksana Chusovitina is a gymnast from Uzbekistan who participates in her eighth Olympic Games. Considering the physical difficulty for gymnasts to perform at any age, the fact that she is 46 and continues to compete is nothing short of amazing. When she lost her last spot on Sunday, she received a standing ovation from the crowd. And totally deserved.

Dallas Oberholzer, South Africa, 46

Dallas Oberholzer is a South African skateboarder.picture alliance / picture alliance / Getty Images

As a 46-year-old South African skateboarder, Dallas Oberholzer faced a young competition at the Tokyo Olympics. But that probably doesn’t worry him, especially since he really has lived a life. He said The Guardian he was once nearly attacked by a jaguar in the Amazon, worked as a driver for Janet Jackson and taught Zulu children skateboarding tricks.

Rune Glifberg, Denmark, 46 years old

Rune Glifberg competes in men’s skateboarding.NurPhoto / NurPhoto / Getty Images

Dane Rune Glifberg is another 46-year-old skateboarder, although he has been playing the sport since the 80s and 90s, long before it was included in the Olympics. He spoke to High snobbery on how he trains differently now that he’s in his 40s: “I’m 46 now, so I need to take better care of my body. While that’s probably minimal compared to a lot of athletes out there, I go to the gym about three times a week for an hour. To me that sounds like a lot of effort to just skateboard, but otherwise my body would sort of crumble. “

Abdi Abdirahman, United States, 44

Abdi Abdirahman is an Olympic distance runner.Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

U.S. Olympic long-distance runner Abdi Abdirahman is competing in his fifth Olympics this year at age 44, and he’s the oldest runner to ever make the U.S. team. His long-distance runners tease him, he says Illustrated sports, with quadruple Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah calling him “the grandfather”. It doesn’t bother him. “But that’s OK; it’s for the sake of the sport. That’s what makes training so great with this group of guys,” he told the outlet. “Last year , before practice, they were the ones who gave me confidence – even though I did the job and did everything I could – they gave me the confidence to be part of the team.

Liu Jia, Austria, 39

Liu Jia participates in table tennis.ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT / AFP / Getty Images

Austria’s Liu Jia faced this year’s youngest Olympic athlete, 12-year-old Syrian Hend Zaza, in a table tennis match, and won 4-0. The 39-year-old almost immediately walked over to Zaza to comfort her after the loss. Another reason that older athletes are such great mentors.

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