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Canadian Ian Millar proving age is just a number

Ian Millar of Canada riding Star Power performs during the equestrian individual jumping final at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Greenwich Park August 8, 2012.

JORGE SILVA/REUTERS

Maybe he wants to hang in longer than 71-year-old Japanese dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu, although it's more likely he's just having too much fun to stop.

Whatever the motive, pencil Canadian horse jumping legend Ian Millar's name on the equestrian team roster for the 2016 Olympics.

Millar's promising 10-year-old gelding Star Power will have reached a jumping horse's peak by then, and that would be a shame to waste, wouldn't it?

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"If Star Power wants to go, which is very likely because he should be the right age, he can't go without me," Miller smiled a few moments after the individual jumping final on Wednesday. "So therefore I'll go."

And it's not like Millar doesn't still have the chops to compete at the highest level – he finished tied for 9th.

In a competition where riders can't afford to hit any fences, Star Power nicked a rail on the second obstacle of a combination jump after Millar urged more power – it was one of only two mistakes on the day.

"About half the jump in these big combinations is physical ability, half is education," Millar said.

And there is still plenty of time for Millar to teach Star Power what he'll need to know to be among the elite.

Grand Prix jumping horses typically post their strongest results between the ages of 12 and 15 – Star Power, a Dutch Warmblood, will be 14 at the next Games.

Millar, who lives on a horse farm near Perth, Ont., has been attending Olympics since 1972 in Munich, but this year's were the first Games in which he had the chance to be part of the opening ceremonies since Germany – the horse venues are usually in the hinterland.

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"I didn't get home until five in the morning after the opening ceremonies, but it was a real pleasure to march … it was a very rewarding experience," he said.

Millar had the opportunity to shake hands with most of his fellow Team Canada members – large numbers of whom are young enough to be his grandchildren – and asked if he gave them any advice on how to cope with the pressure, he smiled broadly.

"Win," he said.

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About the Author
National Correspondent

Sean Gordon joined the Globe's Quebec bureau in 2008 and covers the Canadiens, Alouettes and Impact, as well as Quebec's contingent of Olympic athletes. More

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