Posthumous Olympians

OK, we know, you read the title of the post and thought we had lost our minds. And “competing” in the Olympics is probably a bit of a misnomer. But the title is correct and there have been Olympians who were deceased at the time of their Olympic participation or when they were honored at the Olympics.

Not well known is that from 1912-48 there were Arts Competitions held at the Olympic Games. Artists, musicians, and writers entered their works into competitions and received medals for their work. In a number of cases the artists entered their works, but died before the Olympics and the Arts Competitions started. So effectively they competed posthumously.

Also in 1924 and 1936 the IOC awarded Alpinism Medals for the best feats of Alpinism since the previous Olympics. This is also not well-known but it is interesting that this concept was set forth by Pierre, Baron de Coubertin in his original list of events for the Olympics at the Sorbonne Congress in 1894. In several cases, some of the climbers were killed during their Olympian climbing feats, notably several members of George Mallory’s Everest expeditions in the early 1920s (see our previous post on Olympstats about Olympians Atop Everest).

So, yes, there have been posthumous Olympians. Here is the complete list:

Athlete Nation(s) Sport(s) Era
George Bellows USA ART 1932
Karl Borschke AUT ART 1936-48
Glenn Coleman USA ART 1932
Alois Dryák TCH ART 1932
Jozuë Dupon BEL ART 1936
Thomas Eakins USA ART 1932
Frank Gillett GBR ART 1928
Philip Hale USA ART 1932
Otto Hofner AUT ART 1932-48
Ulrich Hübner GER ART 1932
Tait McKenzie CAN ART 1912-48
Luc Albert Moreau FRA ART 1948
Charles Rumsey USA ART 1928
Ladislav Toman TCH ART 1936
George Mallory GBR ALP 1924
Toni Schmid GER ALP 1932
Antarge Sherpa IND ALP 1924
Lhakpa Sherpa IND ALP 1924
Narbu Sherpa IND ALP 1924
Pasang Sherpa IND ALP 1924
Pembra Sherpa IND ALP 1924
Sange Sherpa IND ALP 1924
Temba Sherpa IND ALP 1924

5 thoughts on “Posthumous Olympians”

  1. Coubertin gave Mallory’s medal to Stuart in 1924, since Mallory was on his way to the 1924 expidition. But he was still alive on February 4,1924- He died a few mnths later.
    The 1922 was not Mallory’s expedition, it was Brigadier Bruce’s exprdition
    Bravo, nevertheless on publishing the names of the herpas.

  2. The Alpinism medals were for the best “feats of Alpinism” since the previous Olympics. Therefore, the medals presumably were awarded for specific expeditions. And it seems possible that if one of the honorees had performed more than one exceptional expedition since the previous Olympics, his one medal could be for more than one feat of Alpinism.
    Question: Which of the nine climbers that are listed were together on the same expedition(s) for which they received their medals?

    1. Having now read your post, “Olympians Atop Everest”, I see that Mallory and the seven sherpas were among 21 medalists that were honored for that 1922 expedition. Let me revise my question: Among all climbers honored with an Olympic medal, in how many specific expeditions for which they were awarded medals did they participate?

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