Age no barrier to Olympic Dreams

27 | 1 | 2016

As proof that you’re only as old as you feel, American table tennis player Bill Guilfoil is making a bid to become the oldest person ever to compete at the Olympic Games at the age 93. He will line up at U.S. Table Tennis’ open trials in Greensboro, North Carolina in early February as he starts his Olympic qualification attempt for Rio 2016.

Speaking to WOA media partner, Around the Rings, Guilfoil, who has been playing the sport for 80 years, noted, "People ask me, 'Can you walk? Can you talk?' I feel like I'm in college!" 

Guilfoil has previously competed at national and international level and says there is nothing like the feeling of lining up to play for your country.

“You go into the Olympic training centre in Colorado Springs and there’s a feeling you get, I don’t know exactly what it is, it’s an amazing feeling, it’s like you’re playing for your country or something, I don’t really understand it as I haven’t really had that when I play in local tournaments.”

Guilfoil also attempted to make the team for the 2012 Games, but missed out on a place after losing in the first round of the London Olympic qualifiers.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Hiroshi Hoketsu, the oldest competitor at London 2012 is aiming to make the record of oldest-ever Olympian his own after signalling his intention to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games at the age of 74.

Hoketsu, who represented Japan at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo and the 2012 Games in London, has applied for a qualifying trial for Rio, the Japan Equestrian Federation has announced.

The WOA wishes both competitors luck on their Rio qualifying journeys and hopes their example inspires many others to get active and get involved in sport regardless of age.

The oldest known competing Olympian was Oscar Swahn of Sweden. He was 72 years, 281 days old when he took part in the shooting event at the 1920 Olympic Games. He also qualified for the 1924 Olympics but withdrew without competing.

Photo credit: IOC Photo Archive ‘Oscar Swahn at 1912 Olympic Games’