There have been many concerns about the participation of legally underage athletes in the Games, especially the Olympics. This concern supports the legal capacity of minors to make informed decisions during their non-participating Olympic time. However, Article 42 of the Olympic Chat (Revision 2017) states: “There may be no age limit for competitors at the Olympic Games that is not approved by the rules of the International Sports Federation, as approved by the International Olympic Committee” This article means that bodies like FIFA The International Volleyball Federation and others set a minimum age limit for their sports at the Olympic Games.
The youngest Olympians
- Dimitrios Loundras was only ten years old when he took part in gymnastics during the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens, where he finished third. He is still the youngest Olympian.
- At the age of 13 years and 268 days, Marjorie Gestring, a U.S. springboard jumper, won a gold medal in the 3-meter springboard during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. She became the youngest to win an Olympic gold medal. International Swimming and Stanford Athletic have put the major in their Hall of Fame.
- Gaurika Singh from Nepal competed in the last 100 meters during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. She was only 13 years old.
- At the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, the Italian gymnastics team sent Luigina Giavotti (11 years old), Ines Vercesi (12 years old) and Carlo Marangoni (12 years old) to represent the country.
- At the 1936 Olympics, Inge Sørensen, a twelve-year-old Danish swimmer, won a bronze medal for her third place in the 200-meter breaststroke.
- American swimmer Donna Elizabeth de Varona swam in the preparatory rounds of the 4×100 meter freestyle relay for the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.
- 13-year-old Kim Yun-Mi from South Korea won gold in speed skating during the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.
- At age 14, Dominique Moceanu helped his U.S. team win gold at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
- Tera Lipinski won a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics at the age of 15 years, 8 months and 10 days, making her the youngest gold winner in the women’s individual figure skating.
- Michael Phelps was just 15 when he made his debut at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.
The oldest Olympic athletes
There is no major upper age limit for Olympic athletes, other than boxing, which does not allow athletes over the age of 40.
- During the Rio Olympics, Australian Mary Hanna, 63, took part in equestrian sports.
- Galen Carter Spencer (archery) and Oscar Swahn (archery) won gold when they were both 64 at the 1904 and 1912 Olympics, respectively.
- At the 1920 Olympics, Swede Oscar Swahn was 72 years old and remains the oldest participant. He qualified for the 1924 Olympics but did not participate.
- He was equally 72 years old and Austrian Arthur von Pongracz during the 1936 Games where he competed in equestrian sports.
- Britain’s Lorna Johnstone competed in the 1972 Games at the age of 72.
- Japanese Hiroshi Hoketsu competed in dressage at the age of 72 during the 2012 Olympics.
Olympic sport with age restrictions
Various international federations have certain age limits for their athletes competing in the Olympics. First, to dive, an athlete must be at least 14 years old at the time of the competition. Although gymnastics did not initially impose age limits, controversy over the safety of younger athletes led the government association to increase the age to 15 in 1981 and then to 16 in 1997. For men’s football, only three named players can be over 23 years old. This rule has a background in the initial need for Olympians to be amateur athletes. Judo and riders only accept athletes who are at least 15 or 16 years old. Wrestling, boxing and weightlifting set a minimum age of 17 years