Veterans Still At The Top

French cyclist Jeannie Longo
French cyclist Jeannie Longo

PARIS: Time and tide wait for no man, or do they?

Beijing-bound athletes Jeannie Longo, Haile Satayin, Hiroshi Hoketsu, Dara Torres, James Tomkins and Susan Nattrass have shown getting older does not rule out Olympic participation at the highest level.

French cyclist Jeannie, Ethiopian-born Israeli Satayin, who runs in the marathon, Japanese equestrian ace Hoketsu, American swimmer Dara, Australian rower Tomkins and Canadian shooter Nattrass will be among the more senior athletes at the Aug 8-24 Games in Beijing.

Jeannie clinched a place to compete in her seventh Olympics at the age of 49.

The five-time world champion staked her claim with an outstanding win in both the road race and time-trial at the French National Championships in June.

The 1996 Olympic road race champion has competed in every Games since women’s cycling was first introduced. She will compete in both the road race and time-trail races in Beijing.

Satayin, who emigrated from Ethiopia to Israel, finished in 20th spot in the men’s marathon at the Athens Olympics and in Beijing he will be among the oldest competitors aged 49, though his passport says he’s older.

Satayin’s loping stride looks languid but, like a cheetah, he makes fast running look deceptively easy.

Dubbing himself the “hope of old men,” Japanese equestrian ace Hiroshi Hoketsu is ready to show he has improved with age when he trots out to his second Olympics in 44 years.

At the age of 67 years and four months in August, he will be the oldest Japanese ever to compete in the Olympics and undoubtedly one of the most senior athletes at the Beijing Games.

Since earning an Olympic berth in dressage in February, Germany-based Hoketsu has been hounded by Japanese media in a frenzy which has somewhat embarrassed the retired corporate chief.

American swimmer Dara Torres has reached her fifth Olympic team 24 years after winning gold in Los Angeles.

Dara, 41, and the mother of a two-year-old daughter, has completed another comeback in the wake of the one she pulled off in 2000, when she came out of retirement after seven years away from the sport and won two relay gold and three individual bronze medals in Sydney.

Veteran Australia rower Tomkins at the age of 42 is going for his fourth gold medal.

Having earned gold in 1992 and 1996 in the coxless fours, and with Drew Ginn in the coxless pairs in 2004, Tomkins is in Beijing trying his hand at the eights which would round off a remarkable career which has also seen him collect seven world titles and overcome a heart defect that was only recently detected.

The 58-year-old trap shooter Susan Nattrass is simply an icon in Canadian Olympic circles and will be competing in her sixth Olympics in Beijing.

She broke new ground at the 1976 Montreal Olympics when she became the first woman to compete in trap shooting. — AFP

 

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