Silver Medal Mysteries

For the last two weeks Oldest Olympians has been blogging about athletes for whom we have no information on whether or not they are alive. For some, the fact that Olympians have disappeared from the historical record may not be particularly shocking, particularly if one considers that many of these athletes placed well down the list of finishers and participated decades ago, in a time where international sport was not as prestigious or well-covered by the media as it is today. It may be more surprising, however, to learn that there are numerous Olympic medalists who fall into this category, whether due to language barriers or the athletes simply having left the sport and the public eye after their triumphs.

We have already covered one champion, Micheline Lannoy, but today we are going to look at the 11 runners-up for whom we have been unable to confirm if they are alive. One we have already covered in this blog: Egyptian weightlifter Salah Soliman, born June 24, 1916, who took silver in weightlifting’s featherweight division at the 1936 Summer Olympics. We are therefore going to focus on the other 10 who nearly captured gold, and then seem to have faded away.

Jaroslav Volak – Silver medalist for Austria in handball at the 1936 Summer Olympics

It is unfortunate that Olympians who win their medals as part of a team sometimes slip between the cracks when it comes to their life stories. Volak, born July 7, 1915, was a handball player for the Wiener Athletiksport Club when he was selected to represent Austria in the sport at the 1936 Summer Games. He won a silver medal with the national squad but, aside from that, there appears to be very little information available on him as an individual.

Rolf Spring – Silver medalist for Switzerland in coxed fours rowing at the 1936 Summer Olympics

Rolf Spring of Switzerland’s Ruderclub Zürich, born March 19, 1917, competed in three coxed rowing events at the 1936 Summer Olympics – the pairs, fours, and eights – and was most successful in the fours, where he won a silver medal alongside his teammates. Unlike the rest of his squad, he earned no other major international medals and thus, despite his relatively young age, he seems to have disappeared from the sporting scene after his accomplishment in Berlin, likely because his career was interrupted by World War II.

Paul Eberhard – Silver medalist for Switzerland in two-man bobsleigh at the 1948 Winter Olympics (pictured in the Zürcher Bob Club 50 Year Retrospective)

Like several others on this list, Paul Eberhard, born October 30, 1917, had his only major international success at the Olympics, in this case winning a silver medal in the two-man bobsleigh event at the 1948 Winter Games. Eberhard continued to be prominent in sport, however, as he had been the founder of the Zürcher Bob Club and served as its first president until 1950. After that, however, we were unable to find much trace of him.

Luciano Negrini – Silver medalist for Italy in coxed pairs rowing at the 1936 Summer Olympics

Much like Rolf Spring, Luciano Negrini, born June 22, 1920, was several years younger than the teammates who helped him win a silver medal in the coxed pairs event at the 1936 Summer Olympics and therefore did not earn any other international medals prior to World War II. Although potentially young enough to have still been competing after the conflict, there is no evidence that he did so.

Robert Chef d’Hôtel – Silver medalist for France in the 4×400 metres athletics relay at the 1948 Summer Olympics

French track and field athlete Robert Chef d’Hôtel, born February 2, 1922, is the first person on this list to have won a major international medal outside of the Olympics: gold in the 4×400 metres relay at the 1946 European Championships. He followed this up with silver in that event at the 1948 Summer Games, but seems to have retired from active competition shortly thereafter, as we have been unable to find any record of his successes after the Olympics.

Marianne Werner – Silver and bronze medalist for Germany in the shot put at the 1952 and 1956 Summer Olympics

The only individual on this list with two Olympic medals, Marianne Werner of Germany, born January 4, 1924, won silver in the shot put at the 1952 Summer Olympics and bronze in 1956. In 1958, she won the European Championships in that event and did not retire until the 1960s. Heavily involved in the academic side of sport in her later life, she earned several distinctions and we suspect, therefore, that she is still alive, as her death would very likely be a newsworthy event. Unfortunately, due to language barriers, we have been unable to confirm that this is the case.

Eduardo Risso – Silver medalist for Uruguay in the single sculls at the 1948 Summer Olympics

Unlike the other rowing medalists on this list, Uruguayan Eduardo Risso, born February 25, 1925, had an individual triumph when he was runner-up in the single sculls event at the 1948 Summer Olympics. His career lasted until at least 1952, as he participated in that year’s edition of the Games, and even had a postage stamp released in his honor, yet we remain unable to confirm whether or not he is still alive, although several sites seem to suggest that he is.

Vladimir Kryukov – Silver medalist for the Soviet Union in the coxed eights at the 1952 Summer Olympics

Russian Vladimir Kryukov, born October 2, 1925, helped the Soviet Union’s coxed eights team take silver at the 1952 Summer Olympics and was part of the squad again in 1956, when they did not medal. He also took home gold medals from the European Championships in 1953, 1954, and 1955. Beyond that, however, we have not been able to uncover much more about his life, including whether or not he is still alive.

Leo Wery – Silver medalist for the Netherlands in field hockey at the 1952 Summer Olympics

Leo Wery, born March 27, 1926, focused much of his attention on building his career as a lawyer, but he did have time to help the Dutch team win a silver medal in the field hockey tournament at the 1952 Summer Olympics. Wery was later a lawyer in the oil industry, so we find it unlikely that he would have died without any notice, and thus believe that he is still alive and that we have simply been unable to confirm it.

Leonid Shcherbakov – Silver medalist for the Soviet Union in the triple jump at the 1952 Summer Olympics

The youngest entry on our list, Russian Leonid Shcherbakov, born April 7, 1927, was not only a distinguished athlete, but a prominent coach and trainer as well. He won a silver medal for the Soviet Union at the 1952 Summer Olympics, but only managed sixth at the 1956 edition. Additionally, he was a two-time European Champion, in 1950 and 1954 and held the world record in the event for nearly two years. Once again, therefore, we suspect that Shcherbakov is still alive, but language barriers prevent us from confirming this.

Finally, we would be remiss not to mention that we are unable to confirm that three of the four Swiss runners-up in the coxed fours event at the 1928 Summer Olympics – Otto Bucher, Ernst Haas, and Joseph Meyer – are deceased, although given the ages that would have had to have been to compete in 1928 (the fourth teammate, for example, was born in 1902), it is incredibly unlikely that they are still alive. Since we have no dates of birth for these three individuals, however, we cannot say for certain.

We hope that this list has given you an introduction to vicissitudes of international sport, and how even very prominent athletes can sometimes slip through historical cracks. At the very least, we hope that we have shown how difficult it can be to find sufficient information to celebrate their achievements and legacies properly. We will continue to try our best next week, when we look into some perhaps-forgotten bronze medalists. As you can imagine, there are more entries next week than there were this week, but we hope that you will join us nonetheless!

Caveats, Part 2

A few days ago we compiled a list of Olympians who had yet to be confirmed as deceased and would be older than the oldest Olympian, John Lysak, were they still alive. We now want to add to that list by noting the 16 non-starters and demonstration event competitors that fall into the same category. We do this not only for the sake of completing our previous post but because, as the example of Dutch 1932 athletics alternate Mien Schopman-Klaver, who died recently at the age of 107, showed, these competitors provide us with important links to Games that are disappearing from living memory and their achievements and sporting legacies are worth celebrating even if they did not actually get to compete at the Olympics.

As with our previous post, we suspect that all of these individuals are in fact deceased, we simply cannot confirm it to be the case.

American boxer Johnny Brown,

pictured in the March 7, 1936 edition of the Chicago Tribune.

Name Birthday Notes
Hassan Mohamed Abdin January 20 1910 Alternate on the 1936 Egyptian football squad
Shiro Miura 1910 Alternate on the 1932 Japanese field hockey team
Tatsuo Saimura 1910 Participant in the Kendo demonstration events at the 1964 Summer Olympics
João da Costa May 31 1911 Alternate on the 1932 Brazilian athletics team
Leonardo Valdés 1912 Alternate on the 1932 Cuban athletics team
Gheorghe Antoniade May 10 1913 Alternate on the 1936 Romanian fencing team
René Lafforgue 1913 Did not start for France in alpine skiing’s combined event at the 1936 Winter Olympics
Renard Perez December 8 1913 Alternate on the 1936 Uruguayan water polo squad
José Pescador December 6 1913 Alternate on the 1936 Uruguayan water polo squad
Shigeo Takagi July 28 1913 Alternate on the 1936 Japanese water polo squad
Nobel Valentini November 10 1913 Alternate on the 1936 Uruguayan water polo squad
Johnny Brown August 11 1914 Did not start for the United States in the boxing’s bantamweight division at the 1936 Summer Olympics
Masuzo Maeda June 29 1914 Alternate on the 1936 Japanese water polo squad
Eulogio Quiroz March 11 1914 Did not start for the Peru in the boxing’s light-heavyweight division at the 1936 Summer Olympics
Leopold Quittan April 11 1914 Alternate on the 1936 Austrian athletics team
Saburo Takahashi August 7 1914 Alternate on the 1936 Japanese water polo squad

We are going to shift our focus somewhat next week and look into Olympic medalists over the age of 90 for whom we cannot confirm if they are alive or deceased. We have already discussed the one gold medalist who falls into this category – Belgian figure skater Micheline Lannoy – so tune in next week as we look into silver and bronze. You may be surprised at just how many medalists we are missing information for!

Caveats to the World’s Oldest Olympian

Last month we noted the 104th birthday of American kayaker John Lysak, born August 16, 1914, who is, to the best of our knowledge, the oldest living Olympian. As we have mentioned in the past, however, there are approximately 2500 Olympians born between 1908 and 1928 for whom we have no confirmation on whether they are alive or deceased, not counting the 564 Olympians who participated in the Games in 1928, 1932, and 1936 for whom we have no information on their date, or even year, of birth. Today we want to focus on a small subset of those 2500, the 231 Olympians who would be older than John Lysak if they were still alive. We have already covered the two medalists who fall into this category, Ibrahim Orabi and Adolf Müller, and 16 more are either non-starters or demonstration event competitors, so to shorten the list just a little, we are going to look at the remaining 213 by year of birth.

It should be noted that discussing these individuals in no way represents any belief on the part of Oldest Olympians that these athletes are still alive; we simply cannot confirm that they are deceased. In fact, we find it highly unlikely that any Olympian who is between the age of 104 and 109 would have somehow escaped our attention completely. It remains, however, an important caveat and is always a possibility: language barriers, poor media coverage of older athletes, and desire for privacy from a generation when the Games were not as big as they are now all contribute to the chance that someone may have eluded our radar. In the past, several Olympic centenarians have reached that milestone with little public fanfare, sometimes not being revealed until their death. We therefore feel that it is important to share this list to make our research methods a little more public and subject to scrutiny, and perhaps solve a case or two along the way.

On the left, Abdel Sattar Tarabulsi, who represented Lebanon in sport shooting at the 1952 Summer Olympics. Photograph from: https://www.abdogedeon.com/volleyball/NOUJOUM/abdelsattar%20traboulsi.html

1908

Name Nation Sport Birthday
Sayed Mohammad Ayub Afghanistan Field hockey November 20 1908
Cecil Bissett Zimbabwe Boxing 1908
Abdel Sattar Tarabulsi Lebanon Sport shooting 1908
Elfriede Zimmermann Germany Swimming 1908

Syed Muhammad Salim, who represented Pakistan in field hockey at the 1948 Summer Olympics

1909

Name Nation Sport Birthday
Abdullah Jaroudi Sr. Lebanon Sport shooting 1909
Ahmed Ibrahim Kamel Egypt Diving 1909
Khalil Ibrahim Egypt Diving 1909
Yuki Mawatari Japan Swimming 1909
Tetsutaro Namae Japan Diving 1909
Syed Muhammad Salim Pakistan Hockey September 5 1909
Rokuro Takahashi Japan Rowing 1909

Rashad Shafshak, who was a member of Egypt’s 1936 Olympic basketball team

1910

Name Nation Sport Birthday
Henrique Camargo Brazil Rowing October 28 1910
Paul Cerutti Monaco Sport shooting November 30 1910
Alberto Conrad Bolivia Swimming March 26 1910
Hoo Kam Chiu Hong Kong Sport shooting May 7 1910
Rafael Lang Argentina Boxing September 5 1910
Eduardo Lehman Brazil Rowing April 28 1910
José López Argentina Cycling 1910
Heitor Medina Brazil Athletics July 10 1910
Floyd Morgenstern United States Art competitions June 25 1910
Hércules Morini Argentina Sailing May 17 1910
Cid Nascimento Brazil Sailing November 23 1910
Tabaré Quintans Uruguay Basketball May 9 1910
Ricardo Rey Argentina Wrestling 1910
José Rodríguez Argentina Fencing March 19 1910
Eduardo Sastre Argentina Fencing September 22 1910
Rashad Shafshak Egypt Basketball November 26 1910
Zahir Shah Al-Zadah Afghanistan Hockey November 18 1910
Irina Timcic Romania Figure skating September 4 1910
Eduardo Vargas Argentina Boxing February 26 1910

Dora Schönemann competed in two swimming events for Germany at the 1928 Summer Olympics

1911

Name Nation Sport Birthday
August Banščak Yugoslavia Athletics October 10 1911
Tomás Beswick Argentina Athletics October 17 1911
Juan Bregaliano Uruguay Boxing November 22 1911
José Castillo Cuba Diving March 6 1911
João Francisco de Castro Brazil Rowing December 12 1911
Rui Duarte Brazil Modern pentathlon July 30 1911
Mohamed Ebeid Egypt Athletics April 11 1911
Maximo Fava Brazil Rowing August 12 1911
Margarethe Held Austria Athletics March 19 1911
Julio Herrera Mexico Equestrian March 16 1911
Flora Hofman Yugoslavia Athletics November 17 1911
Hassan Ali Imam Egypt Wrestling August 12 1911
Shigetaka Katsuhisa Japan Water polo September 4 1911
Carlos Kennedy Argentina Swimming February 16 1911
Mohammad Khan Afghanistan Athletics and field hockey May 1 1911
Makoto Kikuchi Japan Field hockey 1911
Seibei Kimura Japan Water polo October 11 1911
Hector de Lima Polanco Venezuela Sport shooting March 25 1911
Vasile Moldovan Romania Gymnastics August 28 1911
Horacio Monti Argentina Sailing August 12 1911
Grete Nissl Austria Alpine skiing November 30 1911
Ibrahim Okasha Egypt Athletics 1911
Ennio de Oliveira Brazil Fencing November 5 1911
Mario Ortíz Argentina Sailing November 21 1911
Jorge Patiño Peru Sport shooting December 18 1911
Juan Paz Peru Swimming September 16 1911
Olivério Popovitch Brazil Rowing October 1911
Domingos Puglisi Brazil Athletics November 4 1911
Ruben Ribeiro Brazil Equestrian May 25 1911
Lukman Saketi Indonesia Sport shooting 1911
José Domingo Sánchez Colombia Athletics May 20 1911
Álvaro dos Santos Filho Brazil Sport shooting October 22 1911
Luis Sardella Argentina Boxing July 11 1911
Irmintraut Schneider Germany Swimming 1911
Dora Schönemann Germany Swimming 1911
Fumio Takashina Japan Diving 1911
Humberto Terzano Argentina Equestrian 1911
Pedro Theberge Brazil Water polo January 1911

Roma Wagner represented Austria as a 100 metre swimmer at the 1936 Summer Olympics

1912

Name Nation Sport Birthday
Antonio Adipe Uruguay Boxing April 24 1912
Luis Albornoz Peru Sport shooting November 18 1912
Baiano Brazil Basketball September 27 1912
Alberto Batignani Uruguay Waterpolo September 30 1912
Humberto Bernasconi Uruguay Basketball November 17 1912
Carlos Choque Argentina Sport shooting August 22 1912
Francisco Costanzo Uruguay Boxing November 4 1912
Marcel Couttet France Ice hockey April 27 1912
Iosif Covaci Romania Alpine and cross-country skiing December 2 1912
Constantin David Romania Boxing December 25 1912
José Feans Uruguay Boxing April 24 1912
João de Faria Brazil Sport shooting August 31 1912
Kenichi Furuya Japan Ice hockey November 8 1912
Sergio Iesi Uruguay Fencing April 8 1912
Luis Jacob Peru Basketball August 13 1912
Julio Juaneda Argnetina Weightlifting 1912
Kozue Kinoshita Japan Ice hockey April 15 1912
Osamu Kitamura Japan Rowing June 29 1912
Theo Kitt Germany Bobsledding October 14 1912
Ovidio Lagos Argentina Sailing July 21 1912
Robert Landesmann France Wrestling March 26 1912
Miguel Lopes Brazil Basketball July 6 1912
Mario de Lorenzo Brazil Water polo July 1912
Shoichi Masutomi Japan Wrestling January 12 1912
René Morel France Athletics February 21 1912
Tadashi Murakami Japan Athletics October 7 1912
Marcel Noual France Swimming 1912
Toshio Ohtsu Japan Field hockey January 23 1912
Celestino João de Palma Brazil Rowing December 21 1912
Rigoberto Pérez Mexico Athletics November 26 1912
Hilda von Puttkammer Brazil Fencing August 13 1912
Constantin Radu Romania Athletics February 13 1912
Roy Ramsay Bahamas Sailing September 28 1912
Jean-Albin Régis France Sport shooting February 19 1912
Kamal Riad Noseir Egypt Basketball January 8 1912
Anísio da Rocha Brazil Modern pentathlon and equestrian October 13 1912
José Manuel Sagasta Argentina Equestrian 1912
Tadashi Shimijima Japan Rowing October 8 1912
Guillermo Suárez Peru Athletics September 8 1912
Shoichiro Takenaka Japan Athletics September 30 1912
Kojiro Tamba Japan Wrestling May 10 1912
Noboru Tanaka Japan Field hockey 1912
Rogério Tavares Portugual Sport shooting December 3 1912
Taro Teshima Japan Rowing July 14 1912
Kenshi Togami Japan Athletics August 1 1912
Pedro del Vecchio Colombia Athletics October 16 1912
Sigfrido Vogel Argentina Sport shooting September 1912
Roma Wagner Austria Swimming July 21 1912

Pedro Landero, who represented Philippines in bantamweight weightlifting at the 1952 and 1956 Summer Olympics. Photograph from: http://www.chidlovski.net/liftup/l_athleteStatsResult.asp?a_id=1902

1913

Name Nation Sport Birthday
Osamu Abe Japan Rowing August 11 1913
Mohamed Amin Egypt Boxing November 15 1913
Willy Angst Switzerland Wrestling November 20 1913
Sayed Ali Atta Afghanistan Field hockey August 25 1913
Frédéric Boeni Switzerland Diving November 15 1913
Louis Chauvot France Sailing February 14 1913
Georges Conan France Cycling 1913
Pierre Cousin France Athletics June 14 1913
Frederic Drăghici Romania Gymnastics June 1 1913
Juan Andrés Dutra Uruguay Rowing October 10 1913
Mahmoud Ezzat Egypt Boxing September 11 1913
Georges Firmenich Switzerland Sailing December 3 1913
Ernst Fuhrimann Switzerland Cycling June 28 1913
Werner George Germany Ice hockey September 12 1913
Juan de Giacomi Argentina Sport shooting 1913
Oscar Goulú Argentina Equestrian 1913
Mario Guerci Argentina Rowing January 14 1913
Tsugio Hasegawa Japan Figure skating June 18 1913
Mohamed Hassanein Egypt Swimming 1913
Ludovic Heraud France Sport shooting January 1 1913
Masao Ichihara Japan Athletics November 7 1913
Albino de Jesus Portugal Sport shooting August 13 1913
Koichi Kawaguchi Japan Equestrian March 12 1913
Ludovico Kempter Argentina Sailing November 11 1913
Werner Klingelfuss Switzerland Canoeing June 11 1913
Alfred König Austria Athletics October 2 1913
Hiroyoshi Kubota Japan Athletics April 29 1913
Daiji Kurauchi Japan Field hockey 1913
Pedro Landero Philippines Weightlifting October 19 1913
Melchor López Argentina Sport shooting January 7 1913
Florio Martel France Field hockey March 2 1913
Jaime Mendes Portugal Athletics August 20 1913
Fernand Mermoud France Cross-country skiing August 20 1913
Isamu Mita Japan Rowing March 25 1913
Yoshio Miyake Japan Gymnastics December 7 1913
Severino Moreira Brazil Sport shooting September 29 1913
Zafar Ahmed Muhammad Pakistan Sport shooting July 10 1913
Mie Muraoka Japan Athletics March 23 1913
Takao Nakae Japan Basketball April 30 1913
Chiyoto Nakano Japan Boxing February 7 1913
Yoshio Nanbu Japan Weightlifting March 22 1913
Karl Neumeister Austria Equestrian August 15 1913
Jwani Riad Noseir Egypt Basketball February 6 1913
Wanda Nowak Austria Athletics January 16 1913
Benvenuto Nuñes Brazil Swimming June 27 1913
Edmund Pader Austria Swimming 1913
Dumitru Panaitescu Romania Boxing May 1 1913
Prudencio de Pena Uruguay Basketball January 21 1913
Dumitru Peteu Romania Bobsledding October 19 1913
Abdul Rahim Afghanistan Athletics February 11 1913
Olga Rajkovič Yugoslavia Athletics April 13 1913
Hertha Rosmini Austria Alpine skiing November 9 1913
Shusui Sekigawa Japan Rowing May 13 1913
Chikara Shirasaka Japan Rowing August 18 1913
Jelica Stanojević Yugoslavia Athletics July 1 1913
José de la Torre Mexico Sport shooting April 3 1913
Pierre Vandame France Field hockey June 17 1913
Anton Vogel Austria Wrestling July 21 1913

Yushoku Cho, who represented Japan in two speed skating events at the 1936 Winter Olympics.

1914

Name Nation Sport Birthday
Toyoyi Aihara Japan Athletics January 7 1914
Ion Baboe Romania Athletics April 12 1914
Charles Campbell Canada Rowing July 2 1914
José Cazorla Venezuela Sport shooting February 26 1914
Yushoku Cho Japan Speed skating January 18 1914
Werner Christen Switzerland Athletics April 29 1914
Asa Dogura Japan Athletics June 11 1914
Jean Fournier France Sport shooting May 4 1914
Hugo García Uruguay Water polo March 20 1914
Mitsue Ishizu Japan Athletics April 16 1914
Josef Jelen Czechoslovakia Boxing August 10 1914
Thea Kellner Romania Fencing March 6 1914
Grete Lainer Austria Figure skating June 20 1914
František Leikert Czechoslovakia Canoeing May 6 1914
Masayasu Maeda Japan Basketball March 10 1914
Khalil Amira El-Maghrabi Egypt Boxing January 1 1914
Gheorghe Man Romania Fencing March 20 1914
Georges Meyer Switzerland Athletics April 17 1914
Hans Mohr Yugoslavia Athletics August 6 1914
Karl Molnar Austria Canoeing May 18 1914
Isaac Moraes Brazil Swimming July 26 1914
František Mráček Czechoslovakia Wrestling April 13 1914
Fausto Preysler Philippines Sailing February 14 1914
Rosalvo Ramos Brazil Athletics June 6 1914
Roger Rouge Switzerland Sailing June 1 1914
Julio César Sagasta Argentina Equestrian July 13 1914
Antônio Luiz dos Santos Brazil Swimming July 16 1914
František Šír Czechoslovakia Rowing January 22 1914
Noboru Sugimoto Japan Swimming April 6 1914
Kosei Tano Japan Water polo January 22 1914
Paulo Tarrto Brazil Swimming April 12 1914
Anwar Tawfik Egypt Fencing July 31 1914
Annie Villiger Switzerland Diving and swimming April 4 1914
Takimi Wakayama Japan Water polo March 30 1914
Zenjiro Watanabe Japan Figure skating February 11 1914
Georg Weidner Austria Wrestling January 14 1914
Otto Weiß Germany Figure skating April 20 1914
Dragana Đorđević Yugoslavia Gymnastics June 2 1914

Having produced this table, we may in the future decide to create a more detailed and sortable table, including Olympic participations, on our website (which is here by the way) so that we can update it as time goes on. Next week, however, we will take a look at those 16 non-starters and demonstration event competitors in order to complete our look into the realm of research on the Oldest Olympians. We hope you will join us!

First Linkage of Olympedia and Olympic Channel Sites

We are pleased to announce that the conversion of Olympedia to IOC and Olympic Channel sites has started. Biographies for all Olympians now available at https://www.olympicchannel.com/en/athletes/. We continue to work with the OlyChannel to import all Olympedia features for your use and pleasure.

We are working with the IT people at the Olympic Channel and will be adding more and more of our original features from Olympedia. Hopefully, we will soon have the complete results for all sports, all events, and all athletes available, as it has been on Olympedia. Further work will continue to incorporate all of our features available on Olympedia. You may also note that because of the linkage to the Olympic Channel, videos of the athletes are now available, which we never had.

Wikipedia often has linked to our concurrent sports-reference sites. We have created links from sports-reference to Olympedia, which should also work for the olympichannel.com site. I am available to discuss how we can implement these links for the Wikipedians if they will contact me at bam1729bam@gmail.com.

Adolf Müller

Our next series of planned blog entries are going to examine two topics: Olympians who could, at least in theory, be alive and older than our oldest Olympian John Lysak, and medalists for whom we have no information on whether they are alive or deceased. Both of these lists are lengthy, with numerous entries, and since we are in the midst of travelling, we wanted to do something much quicker for this week’s blog post. As it turns out, however, these lists happen to intersect only twice, both on bronze medal-winning wrestlers from the 1948 Games. One is Egyptian light-heavyweight Greco-Roman wrestler Ibrahim Orabi, who we covered already in a previous post. Today, therefore, we are going to focus on just one Olympian: Swiss featherweight freestyle wrestler Adolf Müller.

Müller is not the man in the foreground of the photograph; he is the individual with the moustache in the background.

Adolf Müller competed as a featherweight in both the Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling tournaments at the 1948 Games. In the former, he was disqualified for being overweight after losing by decision against Norwegian Egil Solsvik in the first round. He was much more successful in the latter competition, however, surviving until the final, where he was defeated by the upcoming silver medalist from Sweden, Ivar Sjölin, which left him with bronze.

Müller never again reached the podium in a major international tournament and, given that his name is fairly common, we could not find any additional information about him and sources in the Swiss sporting world have been unable to help. Müller was born on April 11, 1914, and would be 104 years old if still alive and over four months older than John Lysak. It seems very unlikely that he would still be living, yet have flown almost completely under the radar of the media but, since it is not impossible, we still leave open the idea that he could be alive until it is proven definitively otherwise.

As mentioned above, Müller and Orabi are unique in that they are medalists older than Lysak whose deaths have not been confirmed. This is not surprising, as medalists tend to get far more attention in the media than other Olympians and thus there is more information available about them in general. Yet they are only two of nearly 250 Olympians overall who would be older than Lysak yet whose deaths have not been confirmed. Next week, when we have a little more time, we are going to take a closer look at these Olympians and hopefully share a little insight into the process of how we determine the world’s oldest living Olympian, and what sorts of caveats we have to provide with such a statement. We hope that you’ll join us once again!

Canada’s 99 year-olds

Along with Egypt, Canada is one of two countries that we at Oldest Olympians know best. While Egypt has a lengthy Olympic history of a thousand competitors, Canada has had nearly four times that many, which makes keeping track of them all, particularly those from the earliest Games, a nearly impossible task. Among Canada’s 3500+ Olympians, we have been unable to identify a single one who lived to the age of 100. For today’s blog, therefore, we decided to highlight the three Olympians who almost made it that far and celebrate their lives and sporting legacies.

Robert Zimmerman – Diver and Swimmer at the 1908 and 1912 Summer Olympics: Despite having represented the country twice at the Games, our first entry on this list was not even a Canadian: he was born and died in the United States and never acquired Canadian citizenship. In the era of fluid boundaries, however, being a member of the Montreal Swimming Club was sufficient for the Olympics to consider him Canadian and thus he marched in the Opening Ceremony for that nation both times. He took part in three events in 1908, one diving and two swimming, but was eliminated in the opening round of all of them. He was more successful in 1912, however, coming in fifth in the springboard competition.

During his athletic career, Zimmerman was active in no fewer than nine different sports, but it was in the water that he was most at home. Of his many careers following his return to the United States, he was most well-known as a deep-sea diver. As he aged, he set himself the goal of completing a 35-mile canoe race for his 100th birthday. Unfortunately, he died just one day after his 99th birthday, which, for many years, made him the longest-lived Canadian Olympian of all time.

Sandy MacDonald – Sailor at the 1960 and 1964 Summer Olympics: Like Zimmerman, Sandy MacDonald was prolific in several different athletic pursuits. He played football and ice hockey in his youth and was even selected to represent Great Britain in the latter at the 1928 Winter Games. His Canadian citizenship eventually disqualified him, and thus his Olympic debut would have to wait 32 years, when he competed in Dragon Class sailing at the 1960 Summer Games. He finished fifth in this edition, and seventh four years later in the 5.5 Metres class. His most notable accomplishment in sailing was his gold medal from the Dragon Class tournament at the 1963 Pan American Games.

MacDonald was a surgeon by profession, but continued to complete in sailing for many years. He celebrated his 99th birthday on September 7, 2003 but, unfortunately, died 44 days later. He remains, as of this posting, the longest-lived Canadian Olympian.

Thelma Boughner – Diving at the 1936 Summer Olympics: Unlike Zimmerman and MacDonald, Thelma Boughner had a quieter profile. She competed in both women’s diving events at the 1936 Summer Games, placing 15th and 22nd in the springboard and platform respectively. She blamed her results on being poisoned by a German dentist shortly before her participation. World War II ended her career, and she later moved to the United States after marrying a Navy pilot, where she ran a successful chain of ice cream franchises. For many years, we had limited evidence that she was still alive, and even removed her from our lists at one point. Unfortunately, we learned from her obituary that she died on October 29, 2017, just over a month after her 99th birthday, and had been the oldest living Canadian Olympian for many years.

It should be noted, however, that Canada does hold one interesting longevity record, courtesy of Cecil Smith, pictured above. Smith represented her country at the 1924 and 1928 Winter Olympics as a figure skater, in the former at the age of only 15. Yet although she was “only” 89 years old when she died on November 9, 1997, she was nonetheless the last known surviving competitor from the 1924 Winter Games.

As of this writing, the title of the oldest living Canadian Olympian is shared by the Wurtele sisters, Rhona and Rhoda, born January 21, 1922, who competed in alpine skiing at the 1948 and 1952 Winter Games respectively. We hope very much to be writing about them and their sporting accomplishments four years from now in celebration of their longevity! For next week, however, we will be taking a look at the world’s oldest Olympian, John Lysak, who turned 104 just yesterday, and some of the competitors who could (at least in theory) be even older! We hope you’ll join us!

Egypt’s Olympic Medalists – Part 4

Today we bring you the final part of our attempt to clarify the biographical details of the lives of Egypt’s Olympic medalists and are focusing on the 1952 and 1960 Summer Games. After participating in Helsinki, Egypt boycotted the 1956 Olympics in protest of the Suez War, although it sent competitors to the equestrian events, which were held several months prior to the Games due to Australian quarantine restrictions. It then competed in the next three editions as the “United Arab Republic”, due to its political union with Syria, although by 1964 Syria had left the union and in 1960 there is no evidence that any Syrians actually competed in the Games. After earning two medals in 1960, Egypt would only see the podium once more prior to 2004, at which point sport was sufficiently globalized and covered in the media to pre-empt any mysteries surrounding Olympic medalists. Even by 1960 the situation had improved greatly, although there is still a little worth discussing.

Abdel Aal Rashid – Bronze medalist in Featherweight Greco-Roman Wrestling, 1952: Egypt’s only medalist at the 1952 Summer Olympics was Abdel Aal Rashid, who won a bronze medal in Greco-Roman wrestling’s featherweight division. As this was his only major international podium finish, there is very little additional information on him available. We uncovered an interview he gave to Al-Ahram after the Games, which confirms his commonly-seen date of birth of December 27, 1927 and gives us a little history of his life, including the fact that he was born and raised in Alexandria. After that, we have been unable to uncover any significant trace of him, or even been able to ascertain whether or not he is still alive (which is certainly within the realm of possibility at the age of 90) as one of the oldest Olympians.

Osman El-Sayed – Silver medalist in Flyweight Greco-Roman Wrestling, 1960: Osman El-Sayed had won a silver medal at the 1955 Mediterranean Games, so he was a little more well-known when he reached the podium at the 1960 Games in flyweight Greco-Roman wrestling. Different sources list his place of birth as either Cairo or Alexandria but, based on the evidence we have seen, we feel that the latter is most likely correct. One difficulty in finding information about him, as we later discovered, was that in Arabic he went by the name “Eid Osman”, which is a common phrase in the language and can be difficult to search for. We were able to find out, however, that he died on April 21, 2013, unfortunately with limited fanfare, despite some sources that continue to list him as still alive.

Abdel Moneim El-Gindy – Bronze medalist in Flyweight Boxing, 1960: Like Osman El-Sayed, Abdel Moneim El-Gindy entered the 1960 Summer Olympics as a known entity, having won gold at the 1959 Mediterranean Games. Of the era’s three medalists, he was probably the most well-known, and the only point of contention is his date of birth: some sources lists June 12, 1936, while others mention December 1936, making it likely that some of these have simply reversed the correct date order (12-6-1936 vs. 6-12-1936). While we are working to clarify this point, we do know that he died March 17, 2011, although unfortunately this coincided with the tumultuous Egyptian Revolution of that year, and thus his death gained less attention than it might have otherwise.

In 1984, Mohamed Ali Rashwan took silver in judo’s open class, which was Egypt’s only Olympic medal between 1960 and its successes at the 2004 Games. From this point on, the nation’s Olympic medalists received the historical attention that they deserved, which means that our job is complete. Of course, we will keep researching and utilizing our contacts to uncover the information that is missing but, in the meantime, it is time to move on to a new topic. Next week we are going to turn to Canada and focus more on our eponymous topic of the oldest Olympians. Canada is a nation that has had three Olympians reach the age of 99 but, to our knowledge, none that have made it to 100. We’ll be taking a looking at these three and featuring the stories of their lives, so we hope you’ll join us!

Egypt’s Olympic Medalists – Part 3

Today we bring you Part 3 of our attempt to clarify the biographical details of the lives of Egypt’s Olympic medalists and are focusing on the 1948 Summer Games. In terms of medal count, this was Egypt’s most successful appearance and, while records were getting better, there still remains some mystery about the medalists from these Games.

Mahmoud Fayad – Olympic Champion in Featherweight Weightlifting: With Ibrahim Shams having moved up a weight category and Saleh Mohamed Soliman having seemingly disappeared from the sporting scene, the two pre-war Egyptian medalists in Olympic featherweight weightlifting were out of contention for the1948 Games. This set the stage for Mahmoud Fayad to triumph in the event and establish his legacy among Egypt’s great champions. A World silver medalist in 1946, he went on to become World Champion in 1949 and 1950, leading to numerous works being written about him. They all agree that he was born March 9, 1925 in Alexandria, while his obituary in Al-Ahram confirms that he died there on December 18, 2002, making him one of the few Egyptian Olympic medalists for whom data is consistent and reliable.

Ibrahim Shams – Olympic Champion in Lightweight Weightlifting: We mentioned last week that Ibrahim Shams took bronze in the featherweight weightlifting tournament at the 1936 Games but, during World War II, he moved up in weight category with great success, as he captured the Olympic lightweight title in 1948. As we mentioned above, we are still trying to determine which (if either) of his birth or death dates was January 15 instead of 16 but, for the most part, information on his life is as consistent as it is with Fayad.

Attia Mohammed – Silver medalist in Lightweight Weightlifting: History has not been as kind, however, to the runner-up to Shams’ victory, Attia Mohammed, another Olympic medalist whose very used name could be the subject of debate. His full name was Attia Mohammed Hamouda, but what he actually went by varies from source to source and tournament to tournament, although “Attia Mohammed” seems most common in Arabic-language materials, although very little was written about him overall. His year of birth (we have no exact date) is seen as both 1914 and 1922, but pictures of him in sporting magazines of the early 1930s demonstrate that the latter is impossible (the one above, for example, comes from a 1934 publication). As for his year of death, the Egyptian Olympic Committee (EOC) gives 1992, but we have seen no other source to collaborate this, and the lack of an exact date makes it difficult to search for him in the Al-Ahram archives. Thus we continue to seek confirmation.

Mahmoud Hassan – Silver medalist in Bantamweight Greco-Roman Wrestling: Mahmoud Hassan was the 1947 bantamweight Greco-Roman World Champion, but he had to settle for silver in that category at the 1948 Summer Olympics. At the 1951 Mediterranean Games, however, he took the gold medal once again. Most sources have him born December 15, 1919 and dying September 10, 1998, but we were unable to verify the latter date in Al-Ahram. While we have no reason to doubt this date, it would be nice to obtain some additional confirmation.

Ibrahim Orabi – Bronze medalist in Light-Heavyweight Greco-Roman Wrestling: Only by virtue of his longer and more noted career does Ibrahim Orabi surrender the title of Egypt’s most enigmatic Olympic medalist to Saleh Mohamed Soliman. The EOC lists virtually nothing about him, other than that he won a bronze medal in light-heavyweight Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1948 Games. We also know that he competed as a middleweight at the 1936 edition, where he placed fifth, and won a light-heavyweight silver medal at the 1951 Mediterranean Games. Aside from this, contemporary reports list him as being from Alexandria, and we have no reason to doubt the year of birth of 1912 that we often see ascribed to him. After 1951, he seems to disappear from the historical records and, given that it is highly unlikely (albeit not impossible) that he is still alive, we have been unable to locate any information on the circumstances surrounding his death.

Next week we will be wrapping up this series by looking at Egypt’s medalists from the 1952 and 1960 Olympics, as the nation only saw the podium once more – in 1984 – between 1960 and 2004. We will also finish our survey with a few concluding remarks, before moving on to new topics beginning two weeks from now.

Egypt’s Olympic Medalists – Part 2

Today we bring you Part 2 of our attempt to clarify the biographical details of the lives of Egypt’s Olympic medalists and are focusing on the 1936 Summer Games. Although the nation was more successful in 1948 in terms of the medal count, Egypt achieved its highest ranking among countries – 15th – in 1936, with two gold medals, one silver, and two bronze. Despite this, however, there is much that remains unclear about some of the country’s medalists from Berlin.

Khadr El-Touni – Olympic Champion in Middleweight Weightlifting: Khadr El-Touni remains the most famous champion in Egypt and for good reason: his performance in the middleweight weightlifting competition at these Games was so dominant that it would have won him the gold medal in the weight division above his own. He was also a three-time World Champion (1946, 1949, and 1950), a Mediterranean Games champion, and the setter of between 11 and 16 world records. He died after touching electrical wiring in his home in September 1956, and while some sources cite the date as September 25, his obituary appeared in Al-Ahram on September 23, confirming a death date of the 22nd.

Anwar Mosbah – Olympic Champion in Lightweight Weightlifting: Anwar Mosbah shared the 1936 Olympic gold medal in lightweight weightlifting with Austrian Robert Fein but, with all the clamor surrounding El-Touni’s middleweight victory, Mosbah’s achievement was ignored by the Egyptian media. He eventually built up a reputation as a coach and trainer, however, and although his death was once reported erroneously by the local media, sources consistently list the correct date as November 25, 1998, as well as a date of birth of April 8, 1913.

Saleh Mohamed Soliman – Silver medalist in Featherweight Weightlifting: An inquiry regarding Saleh Mohamed Soliman was what gave us the idea to write about this topic in the first place. Even his preferred name is unclear, as all possible combinations of his three names appear in Arabic sources, which also often list him without even a year of birth. They do agree, however, that he was 20 years old when he won the Olympic silver medal in featherweight weightlifting in 1936, so we have no reason to doubt that his date of birth is June 24, 1916, as claimed by the Egyptian Olympic Committee (EOC). Beyond that, there is no additional information about the rest of his life, as he never appeared in other major tournaments or received much attention from the Egyptian press. Thus the question of when – and even if, since it is possible that he is still alive – he died remains open. Some Arabic sources list him as the same weightlifter who won gold and silver medals respectively in the middle-heavyweight division of the 1951 and 1955 Mediterranean Games, who was born c. 1917 and went by the name of Mohamed Ibrahim Saleh. We have no evidence to confirm a connection the two, however, and, given the significant differences in weight categories, we believe this to be in error.

Ibrahim Shams – Bronze medalist in Featherweight Weightlifting: Coming in behind Saleh Mohamed Soliman in men’s featherweight weightlifting was a much more well-known athlete, Ibrahim Shams. Shams went on to become an Olympic champion in the lightweight division in 1948, making him Egypt’s most successful Olympian for the next 64 years, until Greco-Roman wrestler Karem Gaber won a silver medal in 2012 to match the gold medal he earned in 2004. He was also a World and Mediterranean Champion and set six world records. His accomplishments have led to relative consistency with his biographical details, with most sources claiming that he was born on January 16, 1917 and died on his birthday in 2001. Some sources, however, suggest that he was either born or died (but not both) on January 15, and we are working to confirm on which date exactly is correct.

Wasif Ibrahim – Bronze medalist in Light-Heavyweight Weightlifting: Just like Saleh Mohamed Soliman, Wasif Ibrahim’s identity is so muddled that many Arabic sources seem uncertain of his very name. He did, however, continue to compete after winning bronze in the 1936 light-heavyweight weightlifting division, and set a world record in 1938. His date of birth is seen as both November 4, 1908 and September 24, 1912, with the 1908 date being what is used by the EOC. The EOC also mentions his date of death as May 17, 1975, although we were unable to confirm this as we could not find an obituary for him in Al-Ahram around this time, making it possible that this information is incorrect.

After 1936, war intervened and the Olympics did not reconvene until 1948. By medal tally, these Games would be Egypt’s most successful and, while record keeping was getting better, there are still mysteries to be had. Tune in next week for Part 3, where we’ll try to clear up some of the confusion regarding these athletes.

Egypt’s Olympic Medalists – Part 1

For our first Oldest Olympians blog post, we are talking about Egypt; specifically, Egypt’s Olympic medalists, which has been an area of focus for us here during our research in Cairo. Our inspiration for this post stemmed from a response we received when we posted about Mohamed Selim Zaki being the oldest living Egyptian Olympian. They contacted us to inquire about Saleh Soliman, born June 24, 1916, who won a silver medal in men’s featherweight weightlifting in 1936. The implication was that, surely, if an Olympic medalist had died, the world would know about it.

The unfortunate truth is, however, that almost no nation has a perfect record for keeping track of their Olympic medalists. We have already discussed, for example, Belgian Olympic champion Micheline Lannoy, as well as the Mohawk Indian lacrosse team from 1904. There are, however, many others like them. Just counting athletes that could potentially be alive, we have 13 silver medalists and 31 bronze medalists for whom we have no information about their living status, the majority of whom were born in the mid-1920s or later. For countries such as Japan, as we learned with Shunpei Uto, part of the problem might be the language barrier. For countries such as Canada or Switzerland, however, the issues are more complex, and perhaps we shall discuss them in another blog post.

We feel that Egypt, however, is a special case, because not only is there much missing information, but the information that is available is often contradicted in other sources. Therefore, we thought that it would be a good use of a blog post to clarify what is known and not known about the lifespans of Egypt’s Olympic medalists from 1928 through 1960, to collect all of our knowledge in one place, and to uncover the truth with definitive sources. Since there are many of them to discuss, however, this week we are going to look into the medalists from 1928.

Sayed NosseirOlympic Champion in Light-Heavyweight Weightlifting: Egypt’s first Olympic champion has also proven, for us at least, one of the more frustrating individuals to uncover information about. Across the numerous biographies that have been written about him, we have seen years of death of 1973, 1974, and 1977, with some containing specific dates such as October 11, November 23, and November 28. We have even seen October 11, 1968, although this report liked conflated him with Ibrahim Moustafa (see below). Egypt’s largest national newspaper, Al-Ahram, does not contain an obituary for Nosseir in the sports section around any of these dates, although the issue is further muddled by the fact that this paper did not print a sports section for much of the latter quarter of 1973, due to regional conflicts. The most common information we see printed is that he died some time in 1974 at the age of 69, which, thanks to the fact that his date of birth is reported remarkably consistently as August 31, 1905, would suggest a date of death in the latter quarter of that year. We will continue to search.

Ibrahim Moustafa – Olympic Champion in Light-Heavyweight Greco-Roman Wrestling: Despite being Egypt’s second Olympic champion, Moustafa received more attention in the media than Nosseir, probably due to the fact that he was more involved with national sport after his victory. Moustafa died while serving as national team coach at the 1968 Summer Olympics, with the date being seen as the 6th, 9th, and 11th of October. Thankfully, we found his obituary on the 10th of October, which states clearly that he died the day before and allows us to be certain about the correct date in this case. As for the date of birth, we see April 20 and September 23 of 1904, but September 23 was printed in his obituary.

Farid Simaika – Silver Medalist in 10m Platform Diving and Bronze Medalist in 3m Springboard Diving: Simaika’s unfortunate death during World War II has made him the Egyptian Olympic medalist about whom information is the most uniform. After becoming an American citizen in 1942, he joined the United States Army, serving during World War II. His plane crashed somewhere in Indonesia on September 11, 1943 and, while various accounts of exactly how he died have been told (everything from at the hands of the Japanese to the spears of tribal head-hunters), it has generally been agreed that he died on that day.

Due to concerns that the country was not being represented in the International Olympic Committee by an actual Egyptian (at the time it was represented by Angelos Bolanki who, although born in Alexandria, was of Greek ancestry), the national Olympic Committee of Egypt declined to participate in the 1932 Games. Therefore, next week we will look into Egypt’s medalists from the 1936 Summer Games held in Berlin, which was host to some of the nation’s greatest successes… and also some of its greatest mysteries! Finally, if you have any topics you would be interested to see covered here, let us know; we’re always open to requests!

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