1. Bernard Lagat
The Kenyan-born middle distance specialist overcame rivals young enough to be his sons to qualify for his fifth Olympics in Rio at the USA 5000 metres trials. Lagat has a silver medal from Athens 2004 and a bronze from Sydney a whopping 16 years ago at 1500m. He will become the oldest runner to represent the States at the Games.
2. Oscar Swahn
Swedish sharp shooter Swahn became the oldest Olympic gold medallist at the 1912 Games in Stockholm. Eight years later, at the tender age of 72, he added a silver medal in the double shot running deer contest to become the oldest medallist of all time. So late in the day did Oscar begin his Olympic journey – aged 60 – his son Alfred competed alongside him at all three events.
3. Merlene Ottey
4. Eliza Pollock
Born in 1840, Pollock was one of only six women in the field of 651 athletes at the St Louis Olympics in 1904. The veteran archer shot her way to gold in the team event, adding two bronzes of her own to go on the mantelpiece back home in Ohio.
5. Hiroshi Hoketsu
The Japanese dressage rider made his Olympic debut way back in 1964 on home soil in Tokyo. He won’t compete this year – but only because his horse is unwell. His late withdrawal from the Rio Games means the 75-year-old won’t become the oldest Olympian. Well, not yet… he hasn’t ruled out a fairytale comeback at 79, when the Olympics returns to Tokyo in 2020.
6. Oksana Chusovitina
Several botched retirement attempts have left the 41-year-old gymnast from Uzbekistan facing up to a seventh Olympics in a sport where the average age is just 16. She competed for the Soviet Union before its demise, as well as Germany and the Unified Team back in 1992, when she won gold in Barcelona.
7. Milo of Croton
This wrestler certainly was Ancient Greek by the time he won his sixth and final Olympic title in 520 BC, two decades after his first. Myth and legend swirled around this supposed mate of Pythagoras. Just like our sporting heroes of today, then.
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