Who is the Oldest Olympian Ever? | Olympics on The Record

Who is the Oldest Olympian Ever? | Olympics on The Record

Olympians must climb
a steep hill to reach a peak of physical excellence. That is why the Olympic Games are for athletes
in the prime of life. But the Olympics sometimes
presents athletes who are slightly… How can I put this? ..on
the other side of that hill. Athletes who are, perhaps, in the late summer of
their physical peak. Meet Oscar Swahn, not only a man
with an impressive beard but the oldest Olympian of all
time. He was born in 1847, over half a century before the start of
the modern Olympic Games. This makes him older
than the light bulb. Older than the motorcar. Older than the teddy bear. He’s even older
than breakfast cereal. In fact, Swahn predates
the foundation of Canada. The unification
of Germany and Italy. And this is what the United
States looked like when Oscar was a lad. In 1908, at the age of 60, the Swedish marksman travelled
to London for the Olympic Games to represent Sweden in the Running Deer
shooting competition. Field sports were extremely
popular in the early days of the Olympic Games,
with a total of 15 events scheduled for London 1908. A century later, nearly all have been changed
or discontinued. Which is a shame
for die-hard fans of Not Quite Running Deer
shooting, because it was a true test
for any marksman. Shooters had about
four seconds to fire at a moving deer target 100m away. Swahn, who trained
by shooting at real deer, had little trouble
hitting the moving target. He won the Running Deer Single
Shot event in London and took a second gold the next day
in the team event. A splendid end to a long
career, you may think. Yet, four years later, at the 1912 Olympic Games
in Stockholm, Swahn was back. In fact, he won a bronze
in the Double Shot and a gold in the Team Single Shot. He was now 64 years old. He was only just getting
started. The Swedish gunslinger returned
to the Olympic Games eight years later,
in 1920, now aged 72. This made Swahn
the oldest ever Olympian. His age didn’t affect
his performances. He won a silver medal in the Running Deer Double Shot
team event. To find the most successful
female golden oldie, we need to go back to 1908
and the London Olympic Games. Sybil Newall, best known as
Queenie, was an English archer who, at 53 years old, was the oldest female
gold medal winner. She was an early pioneer of
women’s sport. This was 20 years before
women took part in athletics. Queenie’s main rival
was Lottie Dod, also competing for
Great Britain. Then aged 37, Lottie
was a superstar of her age. A brilliant tennis player, she was a five-time
Wimbledon champion, the first won when she was just
15 years old. She also won the British Ladies
Amateur Golf Championship and twice represented
her country at field hockey. In 1908, adding
another string to her bow, Dod was aiming for gold
in the archery competition. 144 shots fired at targets
50 and 60 metres away. On the close of the first day,
Dod was in the lead and Queenie was ten points behind. The second day,
Queenie overtook Dod, eventually winning with a score
of 688 points – 46 points ahead of Dod. Queenie hit an amazing 23
bull’s-eyes. Victory was hers. The win made Queenie the oldest female gold
medallist of all time at the age of 53 years and 275
days. And, amazingly, Great Britain
finished second and third, too. And fourth, and fifth, sixth…and seventh. In fact, they were
the only country represented in the Archery, ensuring a clean sweep. The Brits were always
rather clever about that kind of thing. Fair play and all that. Alas, when other countries
entered, Great Britain
did not do quite so well. It would take almost a century
before another British woman won a medal in the archery. At Athens 2004, Alison
Williamson of Great Britain finally won a bronze in
the individual competition.

29 Replies to “Who is the Oldest Olympian Ever? | Olympics on The Record”

  1. You got the United States map wrong. Texas was an independent nation from 1836-1845. Although you did get the shape of Texas right which is a common mistake.

  2. The US didn’t look like that in 1841. The map you showed was in 1845-46. It showed Texas as a state while it was a Republic from 1836-1845.

  3. The oldest Olympic participant was one WINSLOW HOMER who was entered by the USA in the 1932 Olympics at the ripe old age of 96, Oh and also he'd been dead for 22 years. A record unlikely to be beaten I think you'd agree.

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