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10 Great Older Olympians Who Went for the Gold

As these older athletes prove, the Olympic Games are not only for young competitors

Oscar Swahn, shooting

En español | The bearded, sharpshooting Swede is not only the oldest Olympic competitor (72 in 1920), but also the oldest medalist (72) and the oldest gold medalist (64). He also qualified for the 1924 Games, but did not compete because of illness. Swahn was an expert in "running deer," which was shooting at a moving target, rather than a deer. Fortunately.

Popperfoto/Getty Images

Arthur von Pongracz, equestrian

The Austrian dressage rider competed in the 1936 Games at the age of 72 years 49 days, short of Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn's record, 72 years 281 days. Von Pongracz just missed earning a medal when the Austrians finished fourth in team dressage.

Getty Images

Hiroshi Hoketsu, equestrian

Ready for London at age 71, Hoketsu competed in show jumping for Japan at his first Olympics, in 1964. He qualified for the 1988 Games in dressage but was unable to compete when his horse was stuck in quarantine. He was back in 2008 and then, avoiding another 20-year gap, qualified again in 2012. His attitude to all the attention he is receiving: "People say I'm a miracle, but I'm just an ordinary old man."

Yusuke Nakanishi/AFLO/Nippon News/Corbis

Lorna Johnstone, equestrian

The oldest female Olympian competed in dressage for Great Britain in the 1956, 1968 and 1972 Games, when her event came five days after her 70th birthday.

Courtesy of The British Horse Society

Ian Millar, equestrian

His appearance in London at age 65 makes him the first athlete to compete in 10 Olympic Games. "Captain Canada" would have 11 on his résumé except that the 1980 Canada team he was named to boycotted the Moscow Games. He plans to try again in 2016. He won a silver medal four years ago in Beijing.

Todd Korol/Reuters/Corbis

Queenie Newall, archery

She was born Sybil Fenton Newall, but was better known as Queenie. At London's first Olympic Games, in 1908, the British native became the oldest female gold medalist in history (53 years 275 days). London also hosted the Games in 1948.

Allsport Hulton/Archive/Getty Images

Hubert Raudaschi, sailing

The Austrian sailor was the first athlete to compete in nine Olympics, representing his country in every Summer Games from 1964 to 1996, when he was 53. He considers himself a 10-time Olympian; he was on the 1960 Austrian team as an alternate but didn't sail. He won one silver medal in 1968 and another in 1980. Now, he is a manufacturer — of sails. His son, Florian, is on Austria's 2012 sailing team.

AP Images

Aladar Gerevich, fencing

Who was the world's greatest swordsman? Errol Flynn? Zorro? Pish and tosh! Hungarian Aladar Gerevich won medals, including seven golds, at six consecutive Olympics and it might have been eight straight if World War II hadn't prevented Games in 1940 and 1944. When during the Olympic trials the Hungarian Olympic Committee suggested he might be too old, at 50, for the 1960 Games, he challenged and defeated every other member of the sabre team, and went on to earn another gold in Rome.

Bettman Corbis

Merlene Ottey, track

She is the only track and field athlete to have competed in seven Games — the last in 2008 — and she came close to making it eight. She anchored Slovenia's 4 x 100 relay team in the 2012 European championships, at age 52, but it failed to qualify for the Olympics. She represented her native Jamaica from 1980 to 2002 but is now a Slovenian resident and citizen. She has nine Olympic medals and a record 14 world championship medals.

Getty Images

Dara Torres, swimming

At 41, more than twice the age of some of her competition, the native Californian qualified for three events in the 2008 Beijing Games and won three silver medals. She swam in five Olympics, and won medals in all of them (four gold, four silver, four bronze). She set the U.S. record in the 50-meter freestyle at age 15, and at age 40. She failed to quality for the London Games, at age 45, by 0.09 seconds.

Itsuo Inouye/AP Photo

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