Throughout the summer, in a series called Hometown Hopefuls, NBC is spotlighting the stories of Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls from all fifty states, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, as they work towards the opportunity to represent their country at the Paris 2024 Games next year. We’ll learn about their paths to their sports’ biggest stage, and the towns and communities that have been formative along the way. Visit NBCSports.com/hometownhopefuls for more stories from across America as these Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls prepare for Paris in summer 2024.
Equestrian Phillip Dutton turns 60 years old on Wednesday. The seven-time Olympian doesn’t know when he’ll step away from competition, but it won’t be any time soon.
Dutton, who lives in West Grove, Pennsylvania, bids next year to become the oldest U.S. Olympian since art competitions were held at the Games in the 1930s.
Aside from that, the only older Americans were at the 1904 St. Louis Games (archers and one roque player, according to Olympedia.org).
Dutton made his Olympic debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games, winning the first of back-to-back team eventing golds for his native Australia.
Dutton, who moved to the U.S. in 1991, became an American citizen in 2006 and competed for the U.S. at the last four Games. In 2016, he became the oldest U.S. Olympic medalist in any sport since 1952, winning bronze in individual eventing.
He might just try to bookend his Olympic career with another Games in the U.S. in Los Angeles in 2028.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time. At some stage, I can’t keep doing it forever,” he said. “But I haven’t considered giving up and retiring. I’m still excited. I still enjoy the day to day and what I do every day. As long as I can keep doing well, I’m going to keep at it.”
Dutton’s path to becoming a U.S. Olympian was a step-by-step process. First came the decision to move from Australia more than 30 years ago.
“A friend of mine once said to me … ‘For an hour work anywhere in the world, you’ll get more reward for it in America,’” he said.
And Dutton knew about hard work. He was born in Nyngan, an isolated, outback-type town about 350 miles northwest of Sydney. He and three siblings grew familiar with horses on the family’s wheat and sheep farm.
Only Dutton converted from recreational riding to senior-level competition. In his 20s, he had an up-and-coming horse and reached a crossroads.
“Most eventing people who had aspirations like me in Australia went to England because that’s kind of the mecca of eventing,” he said. “It’d be pretty hard to establish in England without a really great horse.”
Dutton remembered what his friend told him about the U.S.
“Starting out in the bottom in America, there wasn’t as many [eventing] people coming here, so honestly the opportunity to grow my business would have been a bit better here,” he said.
Next, Dutton had to decide where to set up shop in America. He flew over for a scouting trip, found a phonebook and looked up Bruce Davidson, an Olympic eventing medalist.
Davidson answered, invited Dutton to his farm in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and helped him find a base. Weeks later, Dutton moved to America.
He has primarily lived in Chester County for the last 32 years. He and wife Evie co-own True Prospect Farm in West Grove.
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