Tokyo 2020: From 12 to 66: who are youngest and oldest Olympians?

Japan has hosted skateboarding teenagers through to horse riding sexagenarians

Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina poses after competing in the artistic gymnastics vault event at the age of 46. Photograph: Loic Venance/Getty/AFP

Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina poses after competing in the artistic gymnastics vault event at the age of 46. Photograph: Loic Venance/Getty/AFP

 

The Olympics may be thought mostly to be the preserve of the young, but there are some sports where experience brings an advantage. The Australian equestrian Mary Hanna is 66 – the oldest competitor atTokyo, her sixth Games.

Her teammate, Andrew Hoy, became Australia’s oldest Olympics medallist at 62, winning an individual bronze in the eventing after leading his team to silver. Asked whether age or experience was more important, he said: “Age.”

The Georgian shooter Nino Salukvadze, 52, is competing in her ninth Olympics, a record for a woman. She made her debut so long ago that she was representing the Soviet Union when she won gold as a teenager in Seoul in 1988.

Australia’s Mary Hanna, aged 66 rides Calanta in the dressage at the Tokyo Olympics. Photograph: Behrouz Mehri/Getty/AFP
Australia’s Mary Hanna, aged 66 rides Calanta in the dressage at the Tokyo Olympics. Photograph: Behrouz Mehri/Getty/AFP

Veteran status might not be a huge disadvantage when you’re on a horse or using a gun, but perhaps the most impressive seasoned Olympian at the Tokyo Games is Oksana Chusovitina. She turned 46 in June, and competed against gymnasts three decades younger than her. She won a gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics as part of the Unified Team that succeeded the Soviet Union in international competition. Having also won a medal representing Germany, she has said her dream is to finally win one for her home country, Uzbekistan.

Dallas Oberholzer, 46, said he’d finally impressed his mum by competing at the Olympics, but the South African wasn’t the only veteran taking part in skateboarding’s Olympic debut. Rune Glifberg of Denmark was also competing at the age of 46.

The all-time record for the oldest Olympic competitor is held by Sweden’s Oscar Swahn. He was born in 1847, and won two shooting gold medals at the 1908 London Olympics. He won another gold in Stockholm in 1912, but finished fourth in another event behind his own son. He competed again in the 1920 Antwerp Games at the age of 72.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki won a silver medal in skateboarding at the age of just 12. Photograph: Fazry Ismail/EPA
Japan’s Kokona Hiraki won a silver medal in skateboarding at the age of just 12. Photograph: Fazry Ismail/EPA

At 13 years and 28 days old, Sky Brown became Britain’s youngest summer Olympian and youngest medallist at the Tokyo Games, but she was beaten by someone even younger. Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, 12, became the youngest Olympic medallist in 85 years with her silver in women’s park skateboarding. Syria’s table tennis prodigy Hend Zaza is also 12, and was the youngest competitor at the Tokyo Olympics.

The figure skater Cecilia Colledge competed for Britain in the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid in New York at the age of 11.

There is some dispute about who is the youngest ever Olympian. Dimitrios Loundras represented Greece in the parallel bars at the inaugural modern Olympic Games in 1896, and came third as part of the team event. At 10 years and 218 days he is the youngest known medallist, and before he died in 1971 he was the last surviving competitor from the 1896 Games.

Photographic evidence, however, appears to show a medal winner at the 1900 Paris Games who was possibly as young as seven. He’d been swapped into the Dutch rowing team as cox after the first Dutch Olympic champions, Roelof Klein and Francois Brandt, realised their original choice, Hermanus Brockmann, was putting them at a weight disadvantage, and recruited the local boy instead. – Guardian

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.