Stalwart of the Australian dressage scene Mary Hanna, is not about to let age stop her from representing her country at the forthcoming Olympic Games in Rio.
What do you reckon your exercise regime will be like at 61?
Strolls on the beach and the occasional gentle swing of a golf club sound pretty perfect.
Not for dressage rider Mary Hanna. Instead of having a roll at the local lawn bowls rink, Hanna is set to become Australia’s oldest ever competing Olympian in Rio.
She’ll also become just the third Aussie woman to compete at 5 Games, along with table tennis player Jian Fang Lay, who will also reach the milestone in Rio. The only other woman to complete the feat is beach volleyballer Natalie Cook.
Hanna, who’s a strong contender for the world’s coolest grandma, first represented Australia at the Atlanta Games in 1996 before continuing with Olympic competition at the 2000, 2004 and 2012 Games.
“Every time I have done the Olympics I’ve thought, this is probably the last time I will do it, but after the last time I thought, I am going to keep going with this because I feel fit and healthy and why shouldn’t I? So, here I am,” she said.
“I hope to achieve the best scores I have ever had and push myself up a bracket to be above where I have been previously.”
Hanna is joined in the team by Lyndal Oatley, Kristy Oatley, and debutant Kelly Layne.
The Australians were ninth in the Team event in London and sixth at Sydney 2000 at Hanna’s second Games.
Layne, 41, has previously represented Australia at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG).
“Even though the competition did not have a good outcome for me, I learnt so much from that experience as it put me on a totally different path,” said Layne.
“Had I not had the WEG experience perhaps things would be very different. It helped me discover what I was really made of and prepared me for a future I could not have imagined ten years ago.”
Cousins Lyndal (36) and Kristy (37) both competed in the 2012 London Games.
“It makes it more special because then we have shared memories,” Kristy said.
Rio will be Kristy’s fourth Olympic Games and she is confident on improving her London result.
Lyndal’s horse Sandro Boy is the most experienced Australian team horse and also holds the Australian Grand Prix record, which the pair set at a Sweden event in 2015.
“He is a seasoned performer now,” said Lyndal of her horse. “He loves the big ring atmosphere, he has been an important part of Australian teams for four years and his experience will only help the team.”