Page last updated at 14:32 GMT, Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Olympian secures comeback at 66

Arena in Hong Kong for the Olympic dressage in 2008
Hiroshi Hoketsu hopes to compete in the Olympic dressage event

A 66-year-old Japanese equestrian competitor will take part in the 2008 Beijing Olympics - four decades after first appearing in the Tokyo Games.

Hiroshi Hoketsu, who turns 67 next month, has been named in the dressage team and will become the oldest Olympic representative in Japanese history.

He came 40th in the show-jumping at the Tokyo Games of 1964 - the last time he took part in an Olympic event.

"I'm not just going to take part. I'm planning to finish high up," he said.

Mr Hoketsu, now based in Germany, changed from show jumping to dressage in his 30s.

He was selected for Japan's dressage team for the Seoul Olympics in 1988, but decided not to take part because of quarantine problems with his horse.

Mr Hoketsu found his current mare, called Whisper, in 2006 and has trained her himself.

"My horse didn't understand my instructions in the beginning, but she appears to have decided 'I'll give this old guy a chance' and we're steadily improving," he added. His appearance at the Games in August will break the previous record age for a Japanese Olympian set by fellow equestrian Kikuko Inoue, who was 63 when she rode at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Japan Olympic chief, Tsunekazu Takeda, said: "He's up at 5 am every day. He's what horse riding is all about. I want to congratulate him with all my heart."

The oldest ever Olympic competitor was the Swedish shooter, Oscar Swahn, who took part in the Antwerp Games of 1920 at the age of 72.

He won silver - his sixth Olympic medal - in the running deer double-shot team event.

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