Much has been made about Carli Lloyd’s age. The US soccer forward is to be 39 when the Olympics tournament kicks off.
However, for all of the focus on Lloyd, she is not even going to be the oldest athlete competing in Tokyo. Formiga, a 43-year-old midfielder for Brazil, is one of a number of Olympians proving that age is just a number.
“You know, I literally haven’t switched off for 17 or 18 years. It’s been hardcore craziness. I’m sure that my husband and my family are going to be excited when I’m done playing, because I’ll actually get to do things,” said Lloyd, who is in her fourth Olympics.
The oldest Olympic athlete was Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who at 72 years old won a silver medal in the 1920 Antwerp Games.
However, there is an addendum to this distinction. For nearly 40 years, the Olympics awarded medals in the arts. British artist John Copley was 73 when he won a silver medal in “painting and engraving” in the 1948 London Games. It was the last Olympics that included art.
The oldest member on the US team headed to Tokyo is Phillip Dutton, a 57-year-old equestrian who competes in eventing, a combination of dressage, cross-country and jumping. This is Dutton’s seventh Olympics. He won bronze at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games to become the oldest US medalist since 1952. He was the oldest American in Rio, too.
First-time sport skateboarding, added in an effort to attract a younger audience to the Olympics, is not only for the young. South Africa’s Dallas Oberholzer is to try for gold at 46.
Lloyd is the oldest player on the US soccer team, which has the oldest average age — 30.8 — of any US team that has played in the Olympics. Other older players include Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn, both 36.
“I don’t look at players by age because there are so many other things that we look at before we see how old they are. The most important thing is whether they perform or not, whether they’re going to be able to help us win the Olympics or not,” US coach Vlatko Andonovski said.
For Lloyd, the fact that the Games were put off for a year was helpful. She had knee surgery, reconnected with her family and hired a new trainer.
“There have been so many things that I’ve worked on and tried to finesse in the last year,” she said. “So, I’m actually, I think, in a better position than I was in 2020. I’m just really grateful and going to keep plugging away.”
No one considers 20-year-olds old, but the US gymnastics team includes several 20-somethings, including Simone Biles, who is 24. Gone are the days of Dominique Moceanu, who was just a 14-year-old sprite when she won gold in the 1996 Atlanta Games.
The average age of the US gymnastics team is 20.8, the oldest it has been since 1952. The oldest athlete on the team is MyKayla Skinner, who is also 24, but a few months older than Biles.
“Being older, it’s just been awesome because I feel like with all the experience I’ve had, I feel like my gymnastics has been better than ever, which is super cool,” Skinner said.
However, they are all youngsters when compared with Uzbekistan’s Oksana Chusovitina, who is 46 and competing in her eighth Olympics. She finished seventh in the vault in the 2016 Rio Games.
Her age is not the only thing that makes Chusovitina a rarity in the gymnastics world: She is also a mother. Her son is 21, older than many of the athletes that she is competing against.
Pia Sundhage — a former US soccer coach who was Sweden’s coach and now coaches Brazil —put Formiga and Marta on her roster for Tokyo. Formiga is headed to her seventh Olympics and Marta, a legend in the game, is 35 and is to play in her fifth Olympics.
“Look at Formiga. We shouldn’t think it is over for them, no,” Sundhage said about her veteran players. “The way they play, the way they behave in the group as human beings ... it is very encouraging. They can play many matches.”
The 80-year-old Hiroshi Hoketsu made a bid to become the oldest Olympian ever, but was not selected for Japan’s equestrian team. He first competed at the 1964 Tokyo Games. He pulled out of the 2016 Rio Games because of an ill horse.
As of now, it appears that the oldest athlete in Tokyo is to be Australian equestrian Mary Hanna, who is a 66-year-old grandmother competing in her seventh Olympics.
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