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The oldest and youngest Olympians at the Tokyo Games

Get to know the golden oldies and the wunderkinds at the 2021 Olympic Games.

The 46-year-old gymnast making her final appearance at the Tokyo Olympics isn't the oldest Olympian — that would be 62-year-old Australian equestrian and three-time Olympic gold medalist Andrew Hoy.

He'll be competing at the same Games as 12-year-old Syrian table tennis player Hend Zaza, the youngest person to compete at the Olympics. A pair of 13-year-olds won gold and silver in women's street skateboarding in the first weekend of competition.

How old do you have to be to compete in the Olympics? That depends. Every sport’s governing body has its own minimum, and some have a maximum. (Because of the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021, soccer upped its limit to under 24, and boxers must be under 41.)

Fifty-seven-year-old Phillip Dutton is Team USA's oldest Olympian. And at the ripe old age of 24, MyKayla Skinner is the oldest woman to make a U.S. Olympic gymnastics team since 2004 — edging out four-time gold medalist all-star Simone Biles by a few months.

But it’s not just those who are getting up in years who stand out among the world’s top athletes as singularly impressive. The youngest — like the U.S. swim team’s 15-year-old Katie Grimes — are also in a league of their own.

Who are the oldest Olympians on Team USA at the Tokyo Games?

The Today Show Gallery of Olympians
Equestrian Phillip Dutton poses with his bronze medal on the Today show set in Brazil in 2016. Harry How / Getty Images

Phillip Dutton, 57

On his way to becoming the oldest U.S. Olympian since 2008, when sailor John Dane III held the honor, equestrian Phillip Dutton will be leading the three-rider U.S. eventing team, along with reserves. The total horsemanship sport combines dressage, cross-country and jumping.

And Tokyo won’t be Dutton’s first five-ring rodeo. The 57-year-old equestrian is a seven-time Olympian. Back in 2016 in Rio, when he took the bronze in individual eventing, he became the oldest U.S. Olympic medalist since the 1952 Helsinki Games. Born in Australia, he won team gold for Australia in 1996 and 2000 before he began representing the U.S. at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Abdi Abdirahman, 44

At 44, Abdi Abdirahman is the oldest U.S. runner to ever make an Olympic team. He competed in four previous Olympics, finishing 10th in the 10,000 meter in 2000, but in 2012 did not finish the marathon. He failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics in 2016. Nicknamed "The Black Cactus," Abdirahman was born in Somalia and became a U.S. citizen in 2000.

Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird
Engaged Olympians Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird pose prior to a game on October 30, 2019.Noah Graham / NBAE via Getty Images

Sue Bird, 40

Five-time Olympic basketball player Sue Bird will become the oldest U.S. basketball player and the oldest woman to play at age 40 when she competes in her fifth Olympics in Tokyo. Bird and teammate Diana Taurasi are hoping to become the first players to win a fifth Olympic gold medal, on a team that has won 49 straight games in the Olympics dating back to 1992. The WNBA superstar is engaged to Team USA soccer's Megan Rapinoe.

Carli Lloyd, 39

Soccer star Carli Lloyd will turn 39 before the Tokyo Games and be the oldest player the U.S. women's national team has ever sent to the Olympics. She's hoping to win a third gold medal at her fourth Olympics.

MyKayla Skinner, 24

MyKayla Skinner is the oldest woman to make a U.S. Olympic gymnastics team since 2004, just a few months older than four-time gold medalist all-star Simone Biles. Skinner is also the first married member of the team since Annia Hatch in 2004.

Skinner was an alternate for Team USA for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, then performed at the collegiate level, winning two NCAA titles with the University of Utah. At 22, she decided to return to the elite level and began training for the 2020 Games, which of course were postponed. Her dreams were nearly dashed again when in December 2020, she contracted COVID-19, which resulted in a case of pneumonia that landed her in the hospital for a week and also set back her Olympics training routine. But with hard work and the support of her teammates, she earned her coveted spot on the team.

Who are the youngest Olympians on Team USA at the Tokyo Games?

2021 U.S. Olympic Trials - Swimming - Day 3
Katie Grimes after competing in a preliminary heat during the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials.Tom Pennington / Getty Images

Katie Grimes, 15

Born in Las Vegas, 15-year-old Katie Grimes is the youngest U.S. Olympic swimmer since five-time gold medalist (and one-time silver medalist) Katie Ledecky, who was also 15 years old when she first dove into Olympic stardom at the London 2012 Games. This will be the first time Grimes has competed in the Olympics.

2019 Dew Tour Long Beach - Day 4
Brighton Zeuner at the 2019 Dew Tour Long Beach on June 16, 2019.Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images

Brighton Zeuner, 16

A California-based skateboarder, 16-year-old Brighton Zeuner, is another first-time Olympian, though she already made history at 13 years old, when she became the youngest champion of the X Games in 2017.

Colin Duffy competes in Innsbruck, Austria, on June 25, 2021.Johann Groder / AFP via Getty Images

Colin Duffy, 17

Hailing from the Rocky Mountain foothills of Colorado, first-time Olympian Colin Duffy began climbing around the age of five. At 17 years old, he’s one of the youngest athletes on Team USA, competing the new Olympic event of sport climbing.

Erriyon Knighton, 17

Erriyon Knighton is the youngest American male track athlete to qualify for the Olympics in 57 years. The Tampa, Florida, native is 6-foot-3 and known for his long stride. He started as a football player whose coaches suggested track in 2019, then turned pro as a runner earlier this year. He broke Usain Bolt’s under-18 world record in May, at 20.11 seconds, then beat that record at the Olympic trials, running 19.84.

Who are the oldest and youngest international Olympians at the Tokyo Games?

The 62-year-old Australian equestrian and three-time Olympic gold medalist Andrew Hoy is set to compete in his eighth Olympics at the Tokyo Games and will become Australia’s oldest male competitor in history.

At 46, gold and silver medalist Oksana Chusovitina from Uzbekistan is expected to become the oldest woman ever to compete in Olympic gymnastics. The Tokyo Games will be Chusovitina’s eighth Olympics. Since the 1992 Barcelona Games, she has competed for the Soviet Republic’s unified team, Uzbekistan and Germany.

The 12-year-old Syrian table tennis player Hend Zaza, is expected to be the youngest Olympian competing at the Tokyo Games. Among the other youngest athletes will be skateboarder Kokona Hiraki, who at 12 is Japan’s youngest summer Olympian, and 13-year-old skateboarder Sky Brown, who was born in Japan but will be representing Great Britain at the Tokyo Games.

Who are the oldest Olympians of all time?

The oldest Olympic medal winner is somewhat controversial. English artist John Copley was 73 when he took the silver in 1948 in the painting and graphic arts competition. However, juried arts competitions were phased out of the Olympics in the 1950s, and all medals awarded in the category have since been officially stricken from the records.

Technically, the oldest Olympic medalist is three-time Olympian Oscar Swahn, a sharp-shooter from Sweden who was 72 in 1920 when he won silver in the running deer double-shot team event. Swahn also won gold in 1908 when he was 60, making him the oldest Olympic athlete to ever win a gold medal.

The oldest female Olympian of all time is Lorna Johnstone. The English equestrian turned 70 just a few days before the 1972 Olympics, her third Olympic Games, in which she competed in the individual and team dressage competitions. Some of the other oldest female Olympians were archers, including Eliza (aka Jessie) Pollock, who was nearly 64 when she competed for the U.S. in the 1904 Games, winning two bronze medals for double rounds and a team round gold.

Who is the oldest Olympian still alive?

The oldest living Olympian is Ágnes Keleti. The five-time Olympic gymnastics gold medalist from Hungary turned 100 in January. She competed in 1952 and 1956. In addition to her golds, she earned three silver and two bronze medals. Keleti had planned to make her Olympic debut at the 1940 Tokyo Games, but the outbreak of World War II caused the games to be canceled. Keleti, a Jew, assumed a Christian identity to survive the Nazi occupation of her country, though many people in her family, including her father who was sent to Auschwitz, were killed.

Agnes Keleti
At 100 years old, Ágnes Keleti, a Holocaust survivor, is the oldest living Olympian. She won five Olympic gold medals in gymnastics and 10 medals overall. Laszlo Balogh / AP

Who are the youngest Olympians of all time?

The youngest male Olympic medalist was 10-year-old gymnast Dimitrios Loundras from Greece, who won bronze at the 1896 Games for the parallel bars. One of the youngest ever female Olympians was Italian gymnast Luigina Giavotti, who was 11 when she won silver in the gymnastics team event at the 1928 Games. English figure skater Cecilia Colledge was also 11 when she competed in 1932. Colledge was the first female skater to perform a double jump, according to the IOC. She was also among the first to perfect classic figure skating spins like the camel spin and the layback spin.

The youngest Olympian to ever win a gold medal, according to the IOC, was Marjorie Gestring, a diver from California, who at 13 years old took the springboard title for the U.S. diving team in 1936 at the Berlin Games. However, another young Olympian — an unknown boy in Paris, possibly 8 years old, who competed at the last minute as a coxswain for Dutch oarsmen François Brandt and Roelof Klein in the rowing competition at the 1900 Paris Games — might actually be the youngest athlete to have gotten the gold. Yet more than a century later, no one has been able to confirm the age or identity of this mysterious young Olympian.