Japanese dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu has abandoned his aim of competing as the world’s oldest Olympian at Rio 2016.
The 75-year-old’s horse, Brioni W, fell ill, causing the three-time Olympian to miss out on his chance of qualifying.
“To my regret, I gave up on my dream of competing in the Rio Olympics,” he said.
“I don’t want to push the horse, so unfortunately I have given up upon the dream of competing in the Rio Olympics.
“I will prioritise helping to restore my horse’s health.”
The nature of Brioni W’s health problems have not been revealed
Hiroshi was the oldest athlete at London 2012, aged 71.
His appearance four years earlier in Beijing marked one of the longest breaks between Olympic appearances for an equestrian.
He first rode in the Games at Tokyo 1964, competing as a showjumper.
Most recently, Hiroshi had been training in The Netherlands and Germany.
If he had competed at Rio, Hiroshi would have broken the record for the oldest Olympian.
The current record-holder is Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who participated in the 1920 Antwerp Games at the age of 72. Oscar won a silver medal.
‘I had totally given up’
Hiroshi earned Olympic qualification for London 2012 after finishing first in the FEI’s Asia-Oceania dressage rankings.
He rode 15-year-old Whisper, who had recently recovered from tendonitis.
“I had totally given up on trying to go to London,” Hiroshi said after qualifying.
“The horse’s recovery was a miracle, I was very lucky. She’s a little bit old, but still a good age.”
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The pair finished 40th in the individual.
Whisper was put down in 2013 after sustaining a cracked pastern.
Hiroshi has been riding since he was 23. He is a former director of Johnson & Johnson but gave up his role 12 years ago to concentrate on riding.