Here at Oldest Olympians we decided to take a break from blogging during the 2020 Tokyo Games – after all, day after day, there were much more interesting topics to keep track of during competition. Now that those Games have ended, however, we want to get back to some lengthier posts and help fill the gap a little between now and the 2022 Beijing Games.
A quick Google search will tell anyone that the oldest Olympian at the Tokyo Games was Australian equestrian Mary Hanna, born December 1, 1954. Hanna is no stranger to the Olympics, as 2020 was her sixth edition: she had competed previously in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2012, and 2016. At “only” 66, however, she naturally has quite a while to go before being featured on Oldest Olympians. Thus we asked ourselves instead, if we are going to feature Olympic years that currently have no living nonagenarians, why not go back a little further? Sticking with the theme of the Summer Games, we currently have no one listed as the oldest survivor of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, or for any edition from 1996 onward.
Going backwards, the oldest Olympian at the 2016 Rio Games was born only a few months before Hanna. Julie Brougham, born May 20, 1954, represented New Zealand in equestrian and was 44th in the individual dressage tournament. The oldest Olympian from the 2008 and 2012 editions, meanwhile, was Japanese equestrian Hiroshi Hoketsu, born March 28, 1941, who received particular attention due to the large gap between his appearances. Hoketsu made his Olympic début at the 1964 Tokyo Games and did not compete again until 2008, a considerable wait of 44 years! Meanwhile, 10-time Canadian equestrian Ian Millar, born January 6, 1947, is the oldest living Olympian from the 2004 Athens Games.
Moving back to 2000 allows us to discuss someone who is a little closer to being among the oldest Olympians: sport shooter Bruce Meredith, born April 19, 1937. Meredith represented the United States Virgin Islands at four consecutive editions of the Olympic small-bore rifle, prone, 50 metres event, from 1988 through 2000, with a best finish of joint-31st in 1992. In 2000, he was also the oldest participant in the Games. He also competed in the three positions, 50 metres event in 1988. He had more success at the Pan-American Games, capturing team gold in two events in 1967 and an individual silver in 1995, as well as the World Championships (team silver in 1970) and Central American and Caribbean Games (individual bronze in 1995). As he is still competing into his 80s, we look forward to celebrating his 90th birthday in a few years.
Even more prolific was Sweden’s Ragnar Skanåker, born June 8, 1934, who appeared at seven consecutive editions of the Olympics, from 1972 through 1996, winning gold in the free pistol, 50 metres event at his first appearance, and silver twice and bronze once in subsequent years. He also won a total of 14 medals, four of them gold, at the World Championships between 1978 and 1990, and is now the oldest living survivor of the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Finally, it would not be an Oldest Olympians blog if there were not at least a semblance of an Olympic mystery. According to our records, the oldest survivor of the 1988 Seoul Games is Romanian rower Ladislau Lovrenschi, born June 21, 1932. Lovrenschi competed at four editions of the Olympics from 1968 through 1988, missing only the boycotted 1984 Los Angeles Games, and took bronze in the coxed pairs in 1972 and silver in the coxed fours in 1988. He was also a World Champion in the coxed pairs in 1970 and a bronze medalist in the coxed fours at the 1967 European Championships. While most sources have 1932 as his year of birth, some mention 1943, which would align better with his career. If it were the case that Lovrenschi was a decade younger, Austrian sport shooter Hermann Sailer, born November 1, 1933, would be the oldest survivor of the Seoul Olympics.
There are nine editions of the Winter Olympics without any survivors over the age of 90, which means that this topic merits a future post of its own. Thus, for now, we will leave you with the summer Olympians and hope that you will join us next time!