London Olympics bronze medallist MC Mary Kom, 38, told reporters after her loss to Colombian Ingrit Lorena on Thursday that she has the desire to continue boxing. However, the Manipuri pugilist will not be able to compete at Paris 2024 because of age restrictions.
The International Olympic Committee has no age restriction on participants, but boxing’s world governing body AIBA, post the 2012 London Olympics, said that only boxers in the age bracket of 18 to 40 can compete at the national and international levels.
The multiple world champion has repeatedly got the better of younger boxers – Nikhat Zareen, Pinki Jangra and Jyoti Guliain – in her category. So despite her age, she may not find it tough to make it to the India squad. With the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in July and Hangzhou Asian Games in September next year, Mary, who turns 40 in November, is likely to be seen at these international meets.
While boxing sees an age limit of 18-40, football at the Olympics is one of the sports featuring under-23 players, with the exception of three players above that age per team. Similarly, gymnasts must turn 16 during the year of the Olympics while golf sets the limit of 50 years for professionals who compete on various tours in the sport. Shooting too sees an age restriction imposed by some national federations with the younger limit fixed at 12 to 16 years in some countries.
While Syrian table tennis player Hend Zaza is the youngest competitor at Tokyo at the age of 12 years and 204 days, Australian equestrian player Mary Hanna is the oldest at the age of 66 years. She became the second oldest competitor in Olympics history and is participating in her sixth Games. Her compatriot Andrew Hoy, who is competing in his record eighth Olympics, is 62 years old. Norwegian equestrian player Geir Gulliksen, 61, too is competing in Tokyo as is 59-year-old Moroccan rider Abdelkebid Ouaddar. While Santiago Raul Large of Argentina will be competing in sailing in his sixth Olympics at the age of 59 years, 52-year-old shooter Nino Salukvadze from Georgia competed at her ninth Olympics with her first coming under the Soviet Union flag in 1988. The Georgian finished 31st in women’s 10m air pistol event and is competing in the 25m pistol event too.
Earlier this week, Uzbek Oksana Chusovitina became the oldest woman to compete in Olympics gymnastics in Olympics when she participated in the vault event, where she failed to qualify for the final. Shooter Abdullah Al-Rashidi of UAE, 57, won the bronze medal in men’s skeet earlier this week.
As per Olympics history, Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundran was the youngest known medallist in Olympics history at the age of 10 years and 218 days. He was part of the team which finished third in the parallel bars at the 1896 Games. Oscar Swan of Sweden happens to be the oldest competitor in the history of Olympics at 72, when he won the silver medal in the team double-shot event at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics.