Posts Tagged Martin Rogers

Hiroshi Hoketsu Is A Better Olympic Horseback Rider At 70 than At 40

Hiroshi Hoketsu, age 71, is this Olympics' oldest competitor


The female gymnasts are often children, just 15 or 16 years old. But here is a story by Martin Rogers about the oldest competitor in this year’s Olympics, a Japanese equestrian who is 71. Most impressive is that he says “I am a better rider at 70 than I was at 40.”

The oldest competitor at the 2012 Olympic Games has revealed the extraordinary sacrifices he has made in order to remain a medal contender well past retirement age.

Hiroshi Hoketsu, who will represent Japan in the equestrian discipline of dressage at the age of 71, told Yahoo! Sports how chasing a slice of history and becoming the oldest Olympian in the last 92 years is the result of a fanatical commitment to the sport.

“I have not seen my wife, Motoko, for more than a year,” said Hoketsu, who lives and trains in the German town of Aachen in order to team up with his horse, Whisper, and his Dutch coach. “It is difficult to be away from home for this long as an old man and I owe everything to her patience and understanding.”

Hoketsu will take part in his third Olympics, 48 years after making his debut and finishing 40th as a show jumper on home soil at the 1964 Tokyo Games. Despite continuing to rise at 5 a.m. every day to ride horses, he quit competing and became a successful international businessman for pharmaceutical companies.

After hanging up his business suit and briefcase, Hoketsu still had the itch to compete and entered the world of competitive dressage at his wife’s insistence. At the time, neither predicted his comeback would result in qualification for the Beijing Games four years ago and now the London Games.

Hoketsu credits his performances to dedication and a bond with his mount that he describes as “magical.” He has become a star in his homeland and a poster boy for the elderly.

Although Hoketsu rises early every morning and attacks practice sessions with as much zeal as riders young enough to be his grandchildren, he confesses he does not adhere to the dietary regimen you might expect from an Olympic athlete.

“I eat what I want to eat and drink as much as I want to drink,” said Hoketsu through an interpreter. “People might expect that I am able to participate for so long because I have special habits. But my secret is to have a good life, enjoy yourself and do the things that make you happy.

“Having said that, I am out there riding horses every day for several hours. Then I come back in and do many exercises, to help with my strength, coordination, and, most importantly, my balance.”

Hoketsu is the oldest Olympian since Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn won bronze at the age of 72 at the 1920 Antwerp Games and would ride into the record books if he was able to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.

Such an outcome is unlikely, but don’t rule it out just yet.

“My wife would like for this to be my last year of competition and that will probably be the case,” Hoketsu said. “But I still feel my riding is improving, little by little. That is my motivation. I am a better rider at 70 than I was at 40. Most people can’t tell but my body is getting a little weaker. My horse knows it and she helps me.”

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Danny Welbeck’s Passion Ignored Doctors And Led To Football Fame

What impresses me most in this story (see boldface type below) by Martin Rogers is how when this world famous athlete was a young boy just getting started with a potentially crippling illness, he ignored doctors’ urgings to quit and played through his pain. I so admire this passion and determination. It’s among the noble traits of humans that deserve to be celebrated. And can you believe that these kids are just eight years old, when they trial for world class teams?

Danny Welbeck produced the most unusual and imaginative goal of Euro 2012 (European football) to hand England a desperately needed victory over Sweden on Friday and provide the highest point in a career that itself is a triumph against long odds.

Welbeck completed a dramatic comeback for England with the final goal in a 3-2 win in Kiev and leave his country needing just a draw against co-host Ukraine in its final match in Group D to guarantee a place in the quarterfinals.

The 21 year-old Manchester United striker had his back to the goal when Theo Walcott fired in a low cross from the right after 78 minutes, but he was able to flick the ball with the back of his right heel, sending it past Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson and into the net.

Welbeck (left) shows off his skill on the winning goal against Sweden—6/15/12. (AP)

It was Welbeck’s second goal for his country, and some fans had expressed doubts as to his suitability for a starting place in the absence of suspended first-choice forward Wayne Rooney. However, Welbeck is no stranger to overcoming adversity, having battled an unusual and debilitating condition as a child as well as being told he had no chance of becoming a professional.

Welbeck was diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter disease in his formative years, leaving him with excruciating pain and swelling in his knees. Doctors warned he should consider quitting soccer, claiming that continuing to train and play several times a week could cause ongoing pain and growth complications.

The youngster refused to give up on his dream of becoming a star, though, and regularly told his parents and coaches that the pain he felt was less serious than it really was. Finally, toward his late teenage years, the problem disappeared. It has never returned.

That was not the only hurdle he had to overcome. This might make uncomfortable reading for some Manchester City supporters, but United’s hated rival missed out on the opportunity to snap up Welbeck long before he eventually became a star.

Welbeck was part of City’s youth training program as a youngster but was not considered to have the potential to become a professional and was told not to return for future training sessions.

“I was trialing with City at the age of 8 but just before Christmas they told [my] dad I wasn’t good enough,” Welbeck said. “My dad didn’t want to tell me because it was Christmas, so I was oblivious to the situation for a while.”

A few months later, Welbeck was spotted by a United scout, and the rest is history.

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