Tokyo Olympics: Who are the oldest and the youngest athletes at the Games?
Hend Zaza and Hiroshi Hoketsu are the two record-setters this Olympics and their stories are fabulous
The Tokyo Olympics is set to start from July 23 'behind closed doors'. In the wake of a spike in Covid-19 cases, the Japanese government is expected to impose a state of virus emergency which means spectators will be barred from venues. Tokyo Olympics have already been in the news in the past few months for varying reasons including the suspension of sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson.
However, there has been some positive news as well. Trans-weightlifter Laurel Hubbard's selection to compete at an Olympics women's events had put the Games in a good spotlight. With Tokyo Olympics already making various records, here's a look at the oldest and the youngest athletes this year.
An 11-year-old table tennis player from Syria is going to be one of the youngest Olympians of all time and the youngest athlete at the Tokyo Olympics. Hend Zaza qualified for the Games after winning four of five matches at the Western Asia Olympic Qualification Tournament in Jordan in February 2021. The International Table Tennis Federation has listed Zara's date of birth as January 1, 2009.
Zara was ranked at 155 in the world when she defeated Lebanon's 42-year-old Mariana Sahakian 4-3 in the women's final in Amman. She is set to become the youngest Olympian in 52 years since 11-year-old Beatrice Hustiu competed in figure skating at the 1968 Winter Olympics. The youngest ever athlete to compete at the Olympics was 10-year-old Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras, who competed at the Modern Olympics' birth in Athens in 1896 and won a team bronze medal.
According to The Guardian, Hend Zara will become the fifth-youngest Olympian in history. It is important here to note that no Syrian athlete, male or female, has ever competed at an Olympics in table tennis. The Olympic women’s singles tournament will begin with the preliminary rounds on July 25 and the final will take place on July 30.
Hiroshi Hoketsu, 79, a Japanese equestrian rider is the oldest athlete to compete at the Tokyo Olympics this year. He was born on March 28, 1941. Hoketsu is already the oldest Japanese to compete at the Summer Games and overall 3rd oldest to compete ever. The athlete only missed the 2016 Rio Olympics because his horse was ill. Hoketsu competed in the 1964 Summer Olympics and finished 40th in show jumping. He also qualified for the 1988 Summer Olympics but could not compete as his horse was quarantined.
In the 2008 Summer Olympics, he finished 9th in the Dressage Team Grand Prix and 35th in the Dressage Individual Grand Prix. At the age of 70, in 2012, Hoketsu won a berth for Japanese representation for the 2012 Summer Olympics in individual dressage, where he finished 40th and competition of equestrian.