GANGNEUNG, South Korea -- Finnish curler Tomi Rantamaeki has one big title even before the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics kicks off.
The 49-year-old from Finland's mixed double curling team is the oldest athlete competing at the Feb. 9-25 Olympic Games, if Canadian reserve curler Cheryl Bernard, who is 51, does not compete.
He is 34 years older than the youngest Olympian -- 15-year-old Chinese halfpipe skier Wu Meng.
But Rantamaeki feels still young and is ready to enjoy his first Olympics in his 30-year curling career.
Finland`s mixed doubles curler Tomi Rantamaeki throws a stone at a practice session at Gangneung Curling Center on Feb. 7, 2018. (Yonhap)
"This is the first one, though it might sound a little bit weird," said the veteran curler, who also works as a business consultant in Finland.
His Olympic debut looks trivial and small, compared with his compatriot Janne Ahonen, 40, in ski jumping, who has been participating in the Olympics since 1992 Albertville.
But the curler wants to extend the record to the eighth consecutive Olympic appearance until 2046, when he turns 77.
"I usually say, 'My goal is to defeat his record.' Well, I'll be 77 years old if I make it," he said, laughing. "Well, I still feel young. So why not after four years again? Why not in Beijing?"
As a first step toward the next 28 years in the Olympics, he will do his best in throwing the first shot in the game, and he believes good results will follow.
"The basic thing in curling is one shot, and the next shot. If you make the next, and the next shot comes and so on. That means you win the game," Rantamaeki said. "You take the next game, and the same thing happens. Then you notice that you won the game, that means gold. It's simple." (Yonhap)