Tales from Tokyo: ‘I don’t think about being the oldest Olympian – nobody in horse sport mentions my age’

  • Mary Hanna is not only the oldest rider at the Tokyo Olympics – she’s also the oldest athlete competing at the Games in any sport.

    After her grand prix today on Calanta, the 66-year-old said: “I have tried a few other sports, pentathlon and sailing, and I always come back to the riding because that’s something I’m really passionate about. That’s what I’ll stay with as long as I can.

    “I don’t think about my age because there’s a lot of older people riding and doing really well. Nobody in horse sport ever mentions my age, it’s only when I get out of horse sport that people mention it and think it’s a bit odd. But young or old, it doesn’t make a difference, if you’re fit and healthy, you can just keep going.”

    Mary Hanna said the support of those around her, including her husband Rob, has contributed to her longevity in dressage.

    Tokyo is Mary’s sixth Olympics and by competing here, she has become the first female to be selected for six Olympics for Australia, in any sport. She said her first Games, Atlanta 1996, is the one she enjoyed the most.

    “Everything was fresh and new and I had no expectations of how I would go and my horse Mosaic just rose to the occasion brilliantly,” she said. “On that occasion we had a huge crowd and he came in, really grew and did the best performance of his whole life. That made it very memorable, and the moment when you walk into the opening ceremony, with the huge crowd, made a very, very big impression on me personally.”

    Mary scored 67.981% today with her own and husband Rob’s 14-year-old mare Calanta.

    “She started off really well and the first half of the test I was super pleased with, and then unfortunately when we got to the flying changes, she was starting to run out of petrol and get a little bit flat and tired,” she said.

    “I just lacked that little bit of engagement that I needed, that motivation, to make a really clean test at the end. I think I just misread it a little bit, maybe warmed up too long in the heat. Unfortunately when I started warming up, it was very hot – these are the things that are hard to predict, in these climate conditions.”

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...