From a One-Eyed Shooter to a Jailed Drug Addict, This Is the True Spirit of the Games; Old Master: Hiroshi Hoketsu, , Is Competing in the Dressage ? Years after His Previous Games in Tokyo

The Evening Standard (London, England), August 7, 2008 | Go to article overview

From a One-Eyed Shooter to a Jailed Drug Addict, This Is the True Spirit of the Games; Old Master: Hiroshi Hoketsu, , Is Competing in the Dressage ? Years after His Previous Games in Tokyo


Byline: IAN CHADBAND

WE ALWAYS did believe that the Olympic Games was about more than its time-honoured credo of "citius, altius, fortius" "faster, higher, stronger".

Some of the 11,000 strong crew on duty here are so remarkable that it would be easy to offer alternative mottos.

How about "older, braver, crazier"? Or "taller, luckier, dumber"?

Yes, all human athletic life is here in Beijing, as Standard Sport offers the lowdown on the cast of the XXIX Olympiad.

YOUNGEST

No, not our 14-year-old diving wonder boy Tom Daley, but little swimmer Joyce Guedia Mouajo, from Cameroon.

Depending on whether you believe the Olympic organisers here or the Cameroon Herald, she is either 12 or 13.

Says the schoolgirl delightfully "I may not win any medal but my participation is important as I shall gain experience and cultivate the Olympic spirit that will help me win medals when I grow older."

Go, Joyce!

LUCKIEST

"I can't believe I'm on the Olympic team," reckoned

Thai Amnat Ruenroeng. "I should still be in jail".

The former drug addict had been sentenced to 15 years for robbery, his third spell inside, when he joined the prison boxing programme.

Within a year, he'd become national light-flyweight champ and was released the next day for good behaviour.

OLDEST

Hiroshi Hoketsu a 67-year-old Japanese horseman, who dubs himself the "hope of old men".

Back in 1964, Hiroshi, then 23, competed in the showjumping in Tokyo, came 40th and was seemingly consigned to Olympic history.

Yet 44 years on, and now the subject of Japanese media frenzy, he boasts that he'll finish much higher in dressage. "My horse 'Whisper' didn't understand my instructions in the beginning," says Hiroshi.

"But she appears to have decided 'I'll give this old guy a chance'."

TALLEST

Yao Ming, at 7ft 6in, towers over all opponents in this category but he's not far away in the 'richest' contest either.

China's national basketball god, of Houston Rockets fame, is the giant totem for a a billion dreams, especially when China meet USA's Dream Teamers on Sunday in what's seen here as the biggest event of the Games. …

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