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How Old is Too Old?

While controversy has many questioning if some of the Olympic competitors are old enough to compete in the Olympic Games, many competitors are celebrating the ability to compete at an advanced age (that is, being older or more mature than expected).

John Dane III is the oldest U.S. Olympian in the Beijing Summer Olympics, but he is not the oldest in the Olympics. He hopes to win a medal in sailing and others like him have won or hope to win no matter what their age.

Today Ian Millar won a silver medal in his Canadian team’s equestrian event making him the oldest medalist so far at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. At the age of 61 he is not even the oldest to compete in an equestrian event at Beijing although he is the oldest to ever win a medal in an equestrian event and the seventh oldest to ever win a medal. He is surpassed in age by Japanese rider Hiroshi Hoketsu who is 67. Hiroshi Hoketsu is the oldest Olympian at the Beijing Summer Games.

And who is the world’s oldest Olympian? A Swedish shooter named Oscar Swahn made it to age 72 years and 280 days when he competed in the 1920 Antwerp Games. He won his sixth medal that year and has been noted as the Oldest Olympian.

How old is too old is only answered by the competing individual and how old they feel for the sport they are competing in. Science and technology clearly shows us every day about all the things that help a body to stay fit and properly nourished. Is there some special training that comes into play based on the sport they have chosen? Is there a magic food that is the best? Does an Olympian’s health depend on what country they come from?

Since the oldest Olympians come from many different countries and seem to be competing in a number of different Olympic events, it is hard to say what makes them different. They all seem to be dedicated and skilled. A few have trained all their lives and have gone to many Olympic games to compete. Then there are others who have been on a break but have been able to get into shape and train for the Olympics. U.S. Olympic swimmer Dara Torres has been on a break for seven years and Japanese rider Hiroshi Hoketsu has not been to the Olympics since he was 23 (44 years ago).

We should learn all we can about what makes older Olympians successful. Even if Olympic Gold is not the goal it is important to all who want to lead a healthy lifestyle.

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