The 2016 Rio Olympics have been underway for almost a week now, and athletes have been breaking records and scoring high. While the focus is on young stars like gymnasts Simone Biles or Gabby Douglas, world record-holding swimmer Katie Ledecky, or even Nepalese swimmer Gaurika Singh, who is the youngest Olympian at the age of 13, the older Olympians are still giving it their all, showing us that age doesn’t mean a thing.
Some of these older competitors have been to the Olympics before, but others are having their first Olympic moment this year. They are contending with the rest of the competition and challenging the assumptions of what the body can do as it ages.
Let’s take a second to meet these phenomenal athletes:
Julie Brougham, 62 (New Zealand):
At the spritely age of 62, New Zealand’s Julie Brougham is competing in her first ever Olympics. She is an Equestrian rider and is competing in the individual Equestrian dressage category in Rio. She’s been riding horses since her and her sister shared a Shetland pony as kids.
Mary Hanna, 61 (Australia):
The Equestrian rider is Australia’s oldest Olympian this year, but she is no stranger to the Olympics. 2016 marks her fifth Olympic appearance and she feels that she is just hitting her prime. She started in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and has her eyes set on competing in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo! She’s a grandmother of three, people! She’ll be competing in the individual and team Equestrian dressage events this year.
Phillip Dutton, 52 (United States):
America’s oldest Olympian just snagged a bronze medal in the individual Equestrian event! When he was interviewed after the event, he credited his horse for victory. This is his sixth time in the Olympics and is contending with the best just a month shy of his 53rd birthday.
Jo Pavey, 42 (Britain):
Jo Pavey is breaking records for Britain this year, and she hasn’t even hit the track yet. She is Britain’s oldest ever track athlete, and she’s the first British track star to compete in five Olympic Games. She is a mother of two and shocked the world in 2014 when she placed first at the European Championships, just 11 months after giving birth to her daughter.
Bernard Lagat, 41 (United States):
Sticking with track and field, let’s meet Bernard Lagat, who is the second oldest US track and field star in history. Originally from Kenya, which he competed for in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, Lagat competed for the US in 2008, 2012, and now 2016. He’s not thinking about his age because if he does, he says “…if I think I’m old, I’m gonna run like an old man.”
Oksana Chusovitina, 41 (Uzbekistan):
2016 marks Oksana’s seventh Olympics. She is the oldest female gymnast to ever compete in Olympic history. While she has competed for Germany in the past, Oksana will be representing her home country of Uzbekistan this year. Despite competing against women half her age, she is holding her own out there. After all, she did get silver on the vault at the Beijing Olympics.
When you are on the podium, age doesn’t matter. In fact, age doesn’t matter regardless. These older Olympians are proving that they are Olympians, just as much as their younger competition.