Getting close to the beginning of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, fans and experts concentrate more and more on the members of the Olympic teams. Some of them will compete at the Games for the first time, while others have already taken part in it before. But only a few athletes have managed to compete in several Olympics, let’s see the athletes with the most Olympic appearances.
To take part in the Olympic Games must be the biggest achievement in most athletes’ lives. But to qualify and compete in several ones is a really difficult task. As it means to belong to the best athletes for long periods, even decades. Of course, taking part in the Olympics doesn’t mean winning the gold medal, but participation can really mean more than winning sometimes. Athletes of certain sports like equestrian, sailing and shooting had the most appearances. But even track and field athletes, rowers and fencers represented their country more than five times in Olympic history.
10 appearances – Ian Miller leads the list of athletes with the most Olympic appearances
Canadian equestrian, Ian Miller took part in 10 Olympic Games between 1972 and 2012. He was competing on the top level for 40 years and participated in the 2012 London Olympics at the age of 65. He won the silver medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing in team jumping which was his only medal from the Games. But Miller won several more medals in the Pan-American Games, including four gold. He announced his retirement in 2019, but he still stayed in the sport as a coach.
9 appearances – Austrian sailor and Latvian shooter
Hubert Raudaschl was the record holder of the list of athletes with the most Olympic appearances until Miller’s 10th participation. The Austrian competed in all Olympics between 1964 and 1996, winning a silver in Mexico and in Moscow. He is also a two-time World and a five-time European champion in sailing. While another athlete, Afanasijs Kuzmins also took part in 9 Games equaling his record. The shooter won the gold medal in 25m rapid fire pistol in 1988 Seoul, representing the Soviet Union. But he won his next medal, a silver in 1992 Barcelona as a Latvian athlete. Kuzmins competed in his last Olympics in London, at the age of 65, where he finished 17th.
8 appearances – Athletes from other sports
These two sports, sailing and shooting gave the majority of athletes with the most Olympics appearances. As the requirements for these sports allow athletes to take part in them at a higher age. There are a few athletes from other sports though who also managed to compete on top level despite getting older. Like Japanese ski jumper Noriaki Kasai who raced in the Olympics between 1992 and 2018.
He already won a silver in 1994, in Lillehammer in the team large hill event. Then 20 years ago, in Sochi he managed to win a silver in the individual event beside a bronze with the team. Kasai also competed four years later, in PyeongChang and we might see him again in the 2022 Winter Olympics, at the age of 49. Where online sportsbooks in Japan mention his compatriot, Ryoyu Kobayashi in the favorites.
Female athletes with 8 Olympic appearances
The first female athlete to compete in 8 Games is a sprint canoer, Josefa Idem Guerrini. She represented West Germany in her first two Olympics and won a bronze medal for her country in 1984. After marrying Italian Gugliemo Guerrini, she switched to Italy. And she won a gold, two silver and one bronze medal for her new home between 1996 and 2012. At her last medal in 2008, in Beijing she was 43, which is a very high age in her sport. But Idem kept going and also competed four years later in London where she finished 5th in K-1 500m.
Two other women also appeared in their 8th Olympic Games in 2016 Rio. Canadian rower Leslie Thompson, who won five medals between 1984 and 2016. Her last medal came in 2012, but she still finished fifth four years later in coxed eight, when she was 56. Since then Thompson has become the coach of the Canadian team so we won’t see her competing this summer. Unlike Georgian shooter Nino Salukvadze, who will take part in her 9th Olympics in Tokyo after already qualifying for the event. The 52-year-old athlete will be the first woman to do so in a sport where online gambling sites in Japan expect a tight race between the South Korean and Greek athletes.
Athletes competing for over 40 years
To take part in multiple Olympics is a special achievement already, but to do it over a long period of time is really extraordinary. Beside Ian Miller, we can find three sailors and a Danish fencer competing in the Games over a 40-year period. But we also have to mention Japanese equestrian Hiroshi Hoketsu, who took part in three Olympics with a 48-year-old difference. His first one was in 1964 followed by two more appearances in 2008 and 2012. In London Hokatsu was already 71 and became the third oldest Olympian to compete.
Other amazing Olympic achievements
While seven-time Olympian gymnast, Oksana Chusovitina will compete in her 8th Olympic Games at the age of 45. In a sport where her rivals are half of her age or even younger. But the athlete, who has represented three countries, the Unified team, Uzbekistan and Germany in the Games, has also qualified for Tokyo. Chusovitina has two Olympic medals, a gold from Barcelona and a silver from Beijing. She finished 7th in Rio but we might see another great result from her in Tokyo.
Jamaican-Slovenian sprinter Merlene Ottey also got close to attending her eighth Olympics in Beijing but missed the qualifying time with 0,28 seconds. Her results are still amazing after winning three silver and six bronze medals between 1980 and 2000. At her last Games in Athens, in 2004 Ottey missed the 100m final by only 0.03 seconds. Then, at the age of 44 she represented her new country, Slovenia. Just like she did in the 2010 and 2012 European Athletics Championships.