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  • Australia's Mary Hanna riding Sancette in the team and individual dressage Grand Prix at Greenwich Park during day 7 of the London 2012 Olympics (AAP Image)
Sanjaya Dissanayake

12 Aug 2016 - 10:56 AM  UPDATED 12 Aug 2016 - 10:56 AM

At 61, Hanna becomes our oldest competing Olympian, surpassing the legendary Bill Roycroft - a name synonymous for so many years with the Australian equestrian scene who also made it to five Olympic Games (1960-1976).

But if you were thinking that five is the magic number when most athletes think of retiring or, at the very least, scaling back on their commitment to their sport at such an elite level, you would be underestimating Mary Hanna.

In a conversation with this remarkable woman, one of the first gems to emerge is that her horse for Rio – Boogie Woogie – is still young in dressage terms but will be a perfect age for Tokyo 2020.

So the automatic follow up question is – you’re thinking about Tokyo?

Not only is Hanna thinking of it, the planning process around the horses and the training has already begun.

“I’m already planning. The young horse I’ve got at the moment – Boogie Woogie – he’s only just starting on his career and then I have another very nice horse and they will both be the perfect age for Tokyo. So we’re in the planning stage already.” she laughed.

Equestrian is a very particular sport. More often than not it’s in the genes and is a complete and all-consuming lifestyle.

Hanna grew up on a farm around horses which were used for both work and sport. Her parents were riders as were her sisters.

“My family were a very horsey family and we grew up down in the Western districts on a farm and horses were always a part of our life.   My mother was absolutely mad on horses: jumping and show-jumping and racing and my dad was the same – and of course we always rode stock horses around the farm rounding up the sheep and the cattle. So riding a horse was part of our everyday life.

“With both our parents were in the competition side of it as well we were encouraged from a very young age; I can’t even remember when I first got on a horse but we were always on horses,” said Hanna.

And she has passed on the tradition to her daughters with even her three grandchildren now starting to take up the reins.


Olympic bronze for 51 year Stuart Tinney



51-year-old Stuart Tinney, who was part of Australia's eventing team that claimed our fourth bronze medal and eighth medal overall at the Rio Olympics.

Eventing is the equestrian combo event of dressage, showjumping and cross country. Our full team was Shane Rose (43) Sam Griffiths (44), Chris Burton (34) and Tinney (51).

Tinney won gold in at Sydney 2000 in the teams event. He also competed at Athens 2004 but vanished off the Olympic scene until his Rio recall. In truth, he didn't have his best day in Rio in the final day of show jumping competition.