LONDON — Hiroshi Hoketsu of Japan became the oldest competitor at the 2012 London Olympics on Thursday when his horse Whisper cantered into the ring at the equestrian dressage competition at Greenwich Park.
The 71-year-old Hoketsu was also the oldest competitor at the 2008 Beijing Games. An even greater feat may be that it’s been 48 years since his first Olympic appearance. He competed in equestrian show jumping in 1964 in Tokyo.
Hoketsu says ‘‘the biggest motivation I have to keep competing is that I feel I am improving.’’
Oscar Swahn of Sweden holds the record for the oldest Olympian ever; he won silver in shooting in 1920 at the age of 72. Hoketsu could break Swahn’s mark at the 2016 Rio Games, but he doesn’t plan to do so — not because of his own energy level but for a lack of horsepower.
‘‘I want to but I can’t,’’ Hoketsu said. ‘‘It’s difficult to find a horse, and mine is now too old.’’