Australian Olympic Mysteries, Part 1

Thanks to some dedicated recent work from Connor Mah, as well as generally good data from the country, we know the death dates of most Australian Olympians who were born before 1931. Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to see if we could perhaps address the few remaining cases on our list. In total, there are 11 Australian individuals who are missing dates of death, so today we are going to look at the five individuals who are definitely deceased, but for whom we do not know the exact date.

(Rusty Cook, pictured in the March 12, 1936 edition of The Queenslander)

Rusty Cook – Member of Australia’s boxing delegation to the 1936 Berlin Olympics

As a lightweight, Arthur Leonard “Rusty” Cook, born April 20, 1912, won a gold medal in the boxing tournament at the 1934 British Empire Games. He had less success as a welterweight, however, and was eliminated in round two of the 1936 Berlin Olympics by upcoming gold medalist [Sten Suvio]() of Finland. He turned professional in 1938, but gave up the sport less than a year later due to conflicts with his business interests. We have some suggestion that he died October 10, 1991, but have not been able to verify that yet.

Bert Harris – Member of Australia’s wresting delegation to the 1948 London Olympics

Bert Harris, born c. 1916, wrestled for Australia in the flyweight, freestyle event at the 1948 London Games, but was eliminated after losing his first two bouts. He had much better luck at the 1950 British Empire Games, where he won the gold medal in that competition. There is some indication that he may have been born closer to 1918 and died in 1982, but we have not yet been able to confirm this.

Alexander Martonffy – Member of Australia’s fencing delegation to the 1956 and 1964 Summer Olympics

Alexander Martonffy, born May 7, 1919, represented Australia in three sabre fencing events across two editions of the Olympic Games. In 1956, he was eliminated in round one with the team, while in 1964 he had the same result in both the individual and the team tournaments. The height of his sporting career came at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, when he took silver with the sabre team. Although we know that he is deceased, we have been unable to locate an exact date, or even a year.

Charles Green – Member of Australia’s track and field delegation to the 1948 London Olympics

Charles Green, born August 15, 1921, represented Australia in the 110 metres hurdles at the 1948 London Games, where he was eliminated in round one of the competition. He later became a medical doctor and The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners announced his death in 2009. Unfortunately, the notice did not provide an exact date, or even a year, and the document has since been removed from the internet.

(Bev Scott’s Olympic tracksuit, from the auction site)

Bev Scott – Member of Australia’s wrestling delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Finally, we do not know much about Bev Scott, born November 11, 1922, aside from his Olympic participation. At the 1952 Helsinki Games, he represented Australia in the wrestling’s welterweight, freestyle division, where he was eliminated in round three. His Olympic tracksuit was auctioned off c. 2018, which suggests that he is deceased, but we have not been able to confirm this.

That is enough names for now, but we hope that you will join us next week when we look into Australian Olympic mysteries that may still be living!

Everard Endt

If we were to say that today’s Olympic Mystery concerned an American Olympic champion, frequent readers of this blog may not be all that surprised, being well aware how much data is missing from early editions of the Games. Yet if we were to say that the individual in question won his prize at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, it may raise more than a few eyebrows. That is exactly the type of case that we will be discussing today, however, as we look into American sailor Everard “Ducky” Endt.

(Endt pictured at the Mystic Seaport Museum)

Endt was born April 7, 1893 in Zaandam, Netherlands, but emigrated to the United States and became a citizen in October 1933. A sailor by trade, he served in the United States Navy Reserve, but was best known as a yacht racer. His crowning achievement was winning the gold medal in the 6 metres class at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics alongside, among others, John Morgan, who recently turned 90 and is the grandson of industrialist J.P. Morgan.

There is plenty of evidence for activity in Endt’s later life, and he eventually settled in Florida. He was still alive in 1984 at the age of 91, appropriately enough for being featured on Oldest Olympians, but after that he disappears from the public record. He had a Social Security Number, yet does not feature in the Death Index. He had a rather unique name (and nickname), yet we cannot locate an obituary.

We would love to conclude the story of a great Olympian with a complete record of his life. Our best guess is that he perhaps returned to the Netherlands and died there. Unfortunately, unless and until someone can locate more information about his final years, Endt will remain an Olympic mystery.

The Longest Olympic Marriages

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to look into a question asked recently by the OlyMADMen: what is the longest Olympic marriage? The discussion was spurred by the discovery of the death of British gymnast Pat Evans, born 1926, on January 19 of this year at the age of 93. Evans represented her country at the 1948 London Games, where she was ninth in the team event. Two months later, she married Jack Whitford, born January 3, 1924, who would go on to represent Great Britain at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.       

(Pat Evans)

This means that Whitford and Evans were married for over 71 years. But was it a record? Olympedia has an extensive record of family relations across the Olympics (including through marriage), but exact wedding dates can be elusive. The short answer is, yes, Whitford and Evans appear to have had the longest marriage of any Olympic couple.

(Hans Pfann and Lydia Zeitlhofer pictured at Gymmedia.de)

The next question, then, is who is the living couple that is closest to breaking the record? At first we thought that it might be Hans Pfann and Lydia Zeitlhofer, born September 14, 1920 and February 18, 1931, respectively, with both having represented Germany in gymnastics in 1952 (with Pfann returning in 1956). They were married on August 18, 1953, but unfortunately Zeitlhofer died September 10, 2019 and the age of 88, ending their marriage after 66 years.

(Les Laing)

Eleven days after Pfann and Zeitlhofer married, however, another Olympic duo were wed: Les Laing, born February 19, 1925, and Carmen Phipps, born October 9, 1927. Both represented Jamaica in track athletics at the 1948 London Olympics, but Laing also attended the 1952 Games, winning gold in the 4×400 metres relay. As far as we know, both are still alive and remain married after 67 years, making them the living couple with the longest Olympic marriage.

(Elvira and Louis Barbey)

It would not be an Oldest Olympians blog post, however, without some sort of caveat. This time, it is one case for whom we do not have sufficient information to determine how long the couple was married. Two of Switzerland’s figure skaters at the 1928 St. Moritz Games, Louis and Elvira Barbey, were married at the time of their Olympic participation. Louis was born November 10, 1888 while Elvira was born August 7, 1892. Unfortunately, we know neither the date of their marriage nor either of their dates of death, and thus we cannot rule out that their marriage may have lasted longer than Evans and Whitford’s. As far as we have been able to discern, however, this is the only marriage that has the potential to better the record set by Evans and Whitford.

The Oldest Possibly Living Non-Starters

Over the last two weeks, we have looked at all of the “possibly living” Olympians born before our current Oldest Olympian, Félix Sienra. We now want to complete that list by noting the 12 non-starters that fall into the same category. We do this not only for the sake of completing our previous posts but because, as the example of Dutch 1932 athletics alternate Mien Schopman-Klaver, who died 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 posts, we suspect that all of these individuals are in fact deceased, but we simply cannot confirm it to be the case.

Hussein Ezzat, born in 1915, was a member of the Egyptian football squad at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but did not see any playing time.

Name Birthday Notes
Leonardo Valdés 1912 Alternate for Cuba in the 100 and 200 metres sprints at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics
Renard Perez December 8 1913 Alternate on Uruguay’s water polo squad at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
José Pescador December 6 1913 Alternate on Uruguay’s water polo squad at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Shigeo Takagi July 28 1913 Alternate on Japan’s water polo squad at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Masuzo Maeda June 29 1914 Alternate on Japan’s water polo squad at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Karel Nejtek December 14 1914 Did not start for Czechoslovakia in boxing’s heavyweight division at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Marin Novák November 5 1914 Did not start for Czechoslovakia in boxing’s featherweight division at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Martin Baranovič March 15 1915 Did not start for Czechoslovakia in boxing’s middleweight division at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Norberto Dick July 4 1915 Alternate on Brazil’s coxed eight squad at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Hussein Ezzat 1915 Alternate on Egypt’s football team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Bruno Loibl March 21 1915 Did not start for Germany in boxing’s middleweight division at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Ángel Machado October 4 1915 Did not start for Argentina in boxing’s middleweight division at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

This concludes our look into the subject of those that might be contenders for the crown of Oldest Olympian. In a few days, we will move on to new topics, and we very much hope that you will join us!

Older Than Félix Sienra

Last week, we looked at all of the “possibly living” Olympians born before the former Oldest Olympian, John Lysak. As we have mentioned in the past, there are approximately 2000 Olympians, non-starters, and demonstration event competitors born between 1910 and 1930 for whom we have no confirmation on whether they are alive or deceased. In addition, there are 427 individuals 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 2000, the 72 who were born between Lysak and the Olympian currently believed to be the oldest living, Félix Sienra. Seven were non-starters, so to shorten the list just a little, we are going to look at the remaining 65 by year of birth. Astute readers may notice one more omission, that of Jaroslav Volak, who was the oldest Olympic medalist with an uncertain living status. We received information to indicate that he was deceased (albeit without a specific date), and thus we were able to remove him from the list.

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 106 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, sometimes not being revealed until their death. We feel, therefore, that it is important to share this list to make our research methods a little more public and subject to scrutiny, perhaps solving a case or two along the way.

Santiago Massini represented Argentina in four fencing events across two editions of the Olympic Games, in 1952 and 1956.

1914

Name Nation Sport Birthday
Yukie Arata Japan Swimming October 25 1914
Antonio Cuba Peru Athletics December 10 1914
Norio Fujimura Japan Sailing November 14 1914
Jihei Furusho Japan Water polo December 15 1914
Vítězslav Hloušek Czechoslovakia Basketball October 31 1914
Masaru Kashiwahara Japan Rowing October 30 1914
Emmanouil Mallidis Greece Swimming 1914
Sayed Masoud Egypt Weightlifting November 15 1914
Santiago Massini Argentina Fencing August 20 1914
Iwao Masuda Japan Athletics December 25 1914
Eusebio Ojeda Chile Rowings 1914
František Prokop Czechoslovakia Sport shooting September 131914
Panagiotis Provatopoulos Greece Swimming and water polo 1914
Edgar Ramsay South Africa Rowing October 20 1914
Joaquim Sampaio Portugal Sport shooting August 30 1914
Osamu Takechi Japan Field hockey 1914
Sotirios Vatanidis Greece Wrestling 1914
Gretl Weikert Austria Alpine skiing September 25 1914
Hideichi Yoshioka Japan Wrestling September 10 1914
Zou Wenzhi China Basketball 1914

Hatsuko Morioka represented Japan in four swimming events across two editions of the Games, in 1932 and 1936.

1915

Name Nation Sport Birthday
Luis Aguirrebeña Chile Water polo August 26 1915
Basilio Álvez Uruguay Boxing July 11 1915
Sayed Ali Babaci Afghanistan Field hockey March 12 1915
Karel Brandstätter Czechoslovakia Rowing February 5 1915
Pierre Carlier Switzerland Basketball December 3 1915
José Castro Uruguay Water polo February 19 1915
Petre Cișmigiu Romania Sport shooting June 12 1915
Max Colli Austria Rowing December 5 1915
Manuel Consiglieri Peru Athletics November 15 1915
José D'Andrea Argentina Fencing November 26 1915
Ali Erfan Egypt Wrestling March 18 1915
Michihiro Ito Japan Field hockey March 20 1915
Takeo Ito Japan Field hockey January 5 1915
Vilém Jakl Czechoslovakia Cycling February 22 1915
Torajiro Kataoka Japan Water polo Febraury 7 1915
Karel Kuhn Czechoslovakia Basketball September 14 1915
Kyu-Hwan Lee Japan Boxing February 14 1915
Werner Lehmann Switzerland Swimming August 18 1915
Nemanja Marković Yugoslavia Sport shooting July 7 1915
Juan Ángel Martini Sr. Argentina Sport shooting December 28 1915
Jan Matoušek Czechoslovakia Rowing April 19 1915
Spyridon Mavrogiorgos Greece Swimming 1915
Mitsuo Mizutani Japan Wrestling October 5 1915
Estevão Molnar Brazil Fencing August 26 1915
Hatsuko Morioka Japan Swimming June 22 1915
Armando Moutinho Portugal Water polo January 4 1915
Uichi Munakata Japan Basketball November 26 1915
Junko Nishida Japan Athletics November 3 1915
Lidoro Oliver Argentina Boxing September 18 1915
Reiko Osawa Japan Diving November 28 1915
Konstantinos Pantazis Greece Athletics 1915
Denise Parmentier Belgium Gymnastics January 5 1915
Raúl Rodríguez Argentina Boxing November 26 1915
Gamal El-Din Sabri Egypt Basketball June 21 1915
Pedro Simão Brazil Sport shooting August 16 1915
Hiroshi Tanaka Japan Athletics June 29 1915
Fidel Tricánico Uruguay Boxing January 21 1915
Jaime Ucar Uruguayl Fencing September 24 1915
Johanna Vancura Austria Athletics July 20 1915
Sadako Yamamoto Japan Athletics July 14 1915
Günther Zobernig Austria Swimming December 5 1915

Khushi Ram represented India in the gymnastics tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and was still alive at an Olympic reunion in October 2003.

1916

Name Nation Sport Birthday
Arno Franzen Brazil Rowing January 14 1916
Khushi Ram India Gymnastics January 15 1916
José Roger Argentina Sport shooting January 20 1916
Abderrahman Sebti Morocco Fencing January 9 1916

For our next entry, we will be looking into the non-starter and demonstration event Olympians that we skipped in the last two posts. We hope that you will join us!

Older Than John Lysak?

Recently we noted the death of American kayaker John Lysak, born August 16, 1914, who was, to the best of our knowledge, the oldest living Olympian when he died on January 8, 2020. As we have mentioned in the past, however, there are approximately 2000 Olympians, non-starters, and demonstration event competitors born between 1910 and 1930 for whom we have no confirmation on whether they are alive or deceased. In addition, there are 427 individuals 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 2000, the 62 who would be older than John Lysak if they were still alive. Only one, Zahir Shah Al-Zadah, who represented Afghanistan in field hockey at the 1936 Berlin Games, was born in 1910. Five more were non-starters, so to shorten the list just a little, we are going to look at the remaining 56 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 106 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 (including John Lyask), sometimes not being revealed until their death. We feel, therefore, that it is important to share this list to make our research methods a little more public and subject to scrutiny, perhaps solving a case or two along the way.

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

1911

Name Nation Sport Birthday

Imam Hassan

Egypt Wrestling August 12 1911

Makoto Kikuchi

Japan Field hockey 1911

Ibrahim Okasha

Egypt Athletics 1911

Irmintraut Schneider

Germany Swimming 1911

Dora Schönemann

Germany Swimming 1911

Fumio Takashina

Japan Diving 1911

Kenichi Furuya represented Japan in ice hockey at the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Games.

1912

Name Nation Sport Birthday
Kenichi Furuya Japan Ice hockey November 8 1912
Luis Jacob Peru Basketball August 13 1912
Osamu Kitamura Japan Rowing June 29 1912
Tadashi Murakami Japan Athletics October 7 1912
Hilda von Puttkammer Brazil Fencing August 13 1912
Tadashi Shimijima Japan Rowing October 8 1912
Noboru Tanaka Japan Field hockey 1912
Taro Teshima Japan Rowing July 14 1912

Tsugio Hasegawa represented Japan in figure skating at the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Games.

1913

Name Nation Sport Birthday
Osamu Abe Japan Rowing August 11 1913
Sayed Ali Atta Afghanistan Field hockey August 25 1913
Juan de Giacomi Argentina Sport shooting 1913
Tsugio Hasegawa Japan Figure skating June 18 1913
Mohamed Hassanein Egypt Swimming 1913
Albino de Jesus Portugal Sport shooting August 13 1913
Ludovico Kempter Argentina Sailing November 11 1913
Hiroyoshi Kubota Japan Athletics April 29 1913
Daiji Kurauchi Japan Field hockey 1913
Pedro Landero Philippines Weightlifting October 19 1913
Jaime Mendes Portugal Athletics August 20 1913
Isamu Mita Japan Rowing March 25 1913
Amin Mohamed Egypt Boxing November 15 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
Wanda Nowak Austria Athletics January 16 1913
Dumitru Peteu Romania Bobsledding October 19 1913
Abdul Rahim Afghanistan Athletics February 11 1913
Hertha Rosmini Austria Alpine skiing November 9 1913
Shusui Sekigawa Japan Rowing May 13 1913
Chikara Shirasaka Japan Rowing August 18 1913

Toyoji Aihara represented Japan in two track events at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

1914

Name Nation Sport Birthday
Toyoyi Aihara Japan Athletics January 7 1914
Ion Baboe Romania Athletics April 12 1914
José Cazorla Venezuela Sport shooting February 26 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
Masayasu Maeda Japan Basketball March 10 1914
Gheorghe Man Romania Fencing March 20 1914
Rosalvo Ramos Brazil Athletics June 6 1914
Julio César Sagasta Argentina Equestrian July 13 1914
Antônio Luiz dos Santos Brazil Swimming July 16 1914
Kosei Tano Japan Water polo January 22 1914
Paulo Tatto Brazil Swimming April 12 1914
Anwar Tawfik Egypt Fencing July 31 1914
Annie Villiger Switzerland Diving and swimming April 4 1914
Zenjiro Watanabe Japan Figure skating February 11 1914

For our next entry, we will be looking into those Olympians who may still be alive and were born between John Lysak and the current oldest living Olympian, Félix Sienra. We hope that you will join us!

John Lysak

As we posted a few days ago, we here at Oldest Olympians learned that American canoeist John Lysak, born August 16, 1914, who was believed to be the oldest living Olympian, died January 8, 2020 in Fremont, California, at the age of 105 years, 145 days. This makes him the fourth longest lived Olympian of all time. One might expect that we would have heard of this news much sooner but, as frequent readers will be aware, information on the oldest Olympians can be very difficult to come by. In fact, were it not for some detective work, we would remain unaware that Lysak died at the beginning of the year.

(John Lysak, pictured in a July 27, 2008 edition of The Mercury News)

This work began with a request from German researcher Gunnar Meinhardt, who wanted to produce a story about the oldest living Olympian for the German newspapers Welt am Sonntag and Welt. No story about Lysak had been written since July 27, 2008, when he was covered in The Mercury News at the age of 93, although we had presumed that he was still alive based on public records. Meinhardt contacted top Olympic historian and founder of the OlyMADMen Bill Mallon on September 7 and Mallon forwarded the request to us. We, in turn, passed on the contact information that we had and looked forward to what would hopefully be a detailed interview.

It was not to be. Meinhardt exhausted all of our contact options for Lysak within two days and turned to us for more help. We then tried to contact Keith Lysak, John’s son who lived with him, but were similarly unsuccessful. Thus, we had to get creative. Oldest Olympians tracked down the closest living relative that we could find, Lysak’s great-niece Barbara Zinter, who worked for the Village of Bergen, New York.

Mallon contacted Zinter who, unfortunately, could not provide a definitive update on Lysak. She had, however, heard that he may have died within the last year, and informed us that one of his caretaker sons, Michael, was also deceased. Determined to solve the mystery, Mallon contacted Mark Purdy, the writer of the story in The Mercury News, but the key clue came in the former of the obituary of a man named Andrew Syka, who died March 10, 2020 at the age of 99. A comment in the obituary by Lucille Greenlee noted that Syka was lifelong friends with John Lysak… who had died in January. Greenlee was Lysak’s sister-in-law.

Based on this information, Mallon assembled a list of nearly a dozen individuals connected to either Syka or Greenlee who might be able to provide further information. In the end, however, a series of dead ends left us frustrated, but it was ultimately a small genealogy website that provided the final clue:

https://www.mylife.com/john-lysak/e495001680996

(Félix Sienra, pictured at the Facebook page of Panathlon Distrito Uruguay)

This page provided us with a full date of death, January 8, 2020, confirming that Lysak had died at the age of 105 years, 145 days. This meant that Finnish track athlete Aarne Kainlauri, born May 25, 1915, had been the oldest living Olympian for just over two months, until his own death in March 11, 2020. We believe that, since then, Uruguayan sailor Félix Sienra, born January 21, 1916, has been the oldest living Olympian.

To close out this blog post, we have some additional sad news: we were informed that Jasper Blackall, born July 20, 1920, who was believed to be the oldest living British Olympian, actually died at some point between 2018 and 2020, prior to turning 100. This means that the current oldest British Olympian is another medal-winning sailor, David Bowker, born March 15, 1922, who took silver in the 5.5 metres class at the 1956 Melbourne Games.

Roberto Sieburger

On Oldest Olympians, we often cover some of the more obscure Olympians, both living and possibly living. As our Olympic medal mysteries series has shown, however, even more prominent competitors can have their later lives obscured by time. Often, however, these medalists are participants in team sports, so it can be understandable how they may have lived the rest of their lives outside of the public eye.

When an athlete is notable enough to have competed at five editions of the Olympic Games, however, it is somewhat more surprising if we cannot locate many additional details of their lives. We currently have two individuals on our lists who have competed at that many tournaments, yet we cannot even determine if they are alive or deceased for certain. We covered one of them, fencer Jacques Lefèvre, in our series about bronze medal mysteries, and came to the conclusion that he was probably still living, but with the proof concealed by his common name. This conclusion was strengthened by his absence in the recently released French Death Index. Today, we wanted to look into the other, Roberto Sieburger, who is much more likely to be deceased, yet we still cannot find any information on his death.

Sieburger, born February 26, 1917, was a notable sailor in his own right. At the Olympics, he represented Argentina in three different classes: Dragon (1948 and 1952), 5.5 metres (1960), and Star (1964 and 1968), finishing just off the podium twice in 1952 and 1960. He also took part in at least one more international tournament, the 1963 Star World Championships, although he finished far down the list in 52nd.

(Roberto’s father Julio)

Beyond this, however, Sieburger was also a member of a notable sailing family, six of whom (including Roberto) competed at the Games and three of whom won silver medals: his father Julio and uncle Enrique Sr. in the 6 metres class in 1948 and his brother-in-law Jorge Alberto del Río in the Dragon class in 1960. Two other cousins, Carlos and Enrique Jr., placed fourth in the 5.5 metres event in 1960.

Despite this prominence, the above is about the limit of what we know about Roberto. He earned a PhD in chemistry and worked in that industry, garnering additional notability in this field. This also helps us learn that he was still alive in 1975. Beyond this, however, we have surprisingly hit a wall, despite his uncommon name, and thus we must end this entry without even a hint of what might have become of him. If anyone out there knows any additional details, we would be very grateful to learn them.

Al-Ahram Missing Links

Today on Oldest Olympians we are continuing to look into our findings from Al-Ahram and we wanted to post about the publication’s missing links. Obituaries in Egypt can be very unclear for those not familiar with the culture; they usually focus more on the individual’s families and very rarely on their occupations. Their ages are never mentioned. Thus, even when coming across a very uncommon name, it can be difficult to tell if that obituary is for the Olympian unless it was sponsored by their former club or the federation overseeing their sport. Thus today we are presenting a few cases that we believe to be Olympians, but do not have sufficient evidence to prove.

(Obituary for a Medhat Bahgat)

Medhat Bahgat – Member of Egypt’s basketball squad at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Medhat Bahgat, born October 14, 1926, was a member of the powerful postwar Egyptian army basketball squad and was selected to represent his country at the 1952 Helsinki Games. There, Egypt survived the group stage and proceeded to round one, where it was eliminated. Like many of the country’s basketball players, we know little else about him at the moment, but an obituary for a military officer by the name of Mohamed Medhat Bahgat appeared in the December 29, 1995 edition of Al-Ahram on page 19. Although this seems like to be the Olympian, the obituary contains no definitive proof.

 (Mohamed Ebeid, right, with teammate George Fahoum, pictured on page 16 of the February 1, 1937 edition of Al-Ahram)

Mohamed Ebeid – Member of Egypt’s track delegation to the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Mohamed Ebeid, born April 11, 1911, represented Egypt in the 400 metres event at the 1936 Berlin Games, where he was eliminated in round one. A member of the Al-Ahly Club, he continued competing at the national level until World War II, which effectively ended his career. We actually have two candidates for his obituary. On April 14, 1948, a forty-day remembrance was posted for a police officer named Mohamed Anwar Ebeid, indicating that he had died earlier in the year. Searching the archives reveals that Mohamed Anwar Ebeid was actually an athlete during the same era as the Olympian, but he competed for the police school and had no known ties to Al-Ahly. A different Mohamed Anwar Ebeid died January 26, 1988 and had his funeral at the Zamalek Club, a rival to Al-Ahly in that both clubs often poached each other’s athletes. This means that it is possible that Ebeid later joined Zamalek, although it is equally possible that this individual was a member of Zamalek for its social functions and had nothing to do with athletics. Either way, we have no evidence connecting either person for certain to the Olympian.

(Obituary for a Hassan El-Sayed Attia)

Hassan El-Sayed Attia – Member of Egypt’s shooting delegation to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics

We wanted to end our entry with an individual who is not quite at the potential for being one of the Oldest Olympians, but is close enough to warrant a further look while we are on the topic. Hassan El-Sayed Attia, born November 10, 1931, represented Egypt in the free pistol, 50 metres event at the 1964 Tokyo Games, where he was 47th out of 52 entrants. As usual, information about sport shooters is particularly scarce, but we did come across an obituary for a Hassan El-Sayed Attia in the December 19, 1997 edition of Al-Ahram. Unfortunately, aside from being the only obituary for a man of this name that we could find, there was nothing to connect him to the Olympian.

That’s it for today! We are just about caught up on our blogging, but we should have one more for you in the coming days. We hope that you will join us!

Jaroslav Volak

In our last blog entry, we mentioned that our discovery that Egyptian Olympic wrestling medalist Ibrahim Orabi died July 2, 1957, in his mid-40s. Prior to our uncovering of this information, Orabi was the oldest living Olympic medalist who we could not classify definitively as either alive or deceased, although we assumed, correctly as it turned out, that he had died. This got us thinking: who has become the oldest Olympic medalist whose fate remains unknown to us?

The answer to that question is Jaroslav Volak, born July 7, 1915. We have covered him as part of our earlier series on Olympic silver medal mysteries, and unfortunately we know no more now than we did when last wrote about him. Competing out of the Wiener Athletiksport Club, Vienna-born Jaroslav Volak was a member of the Austrian national handball team that won silver at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, behind the German squad. According to the book “1936, Die Olympischen Spiele und Der Nationalsozialismus: Eine Dokumentation” by Reinhard Rürup, five members of that squad, and nine members of the national team overall, died fighting the Soviet Union during World War II. Volak, however, is not listed as being among them.

(Willy Hufschmid, pictured in Turnen und Handball: 100 Jahre RTV Basel 1879)

Since we could find no later confirmation of his death, Volak remains the oldest Olympic medalist whose living status remains unclear. We assume, of course, that he is deceased, given that he would be 105 if still alive, but we cannot say for certain. We are missing information on only one other medalist from that competition: Willy Hufschmid, born October 9, 1918, who was a member of the bronze medal-winning Swiss team. We know that Hufschmid continued to play through 1943, but we lose track of his activities after World War II. At 101, it is not impossible that he is still alive, although it seems unlikely.

(Saleh Mohamed Soliman)

After Volak, the next individual on our list of medalists missing information is Salah Mohamed Soliman, born June 24, 1916, who won a silver medal for Egypt in featherweight weightlifting at the 1936 Berlin Games. We are continuing to conduct research on him in Al-Ahram, but he seems to have stopped competing shortly after his victory, despite being only 20, and we have found no record as of yet of him being alive past 1938, although we are continuing to search.

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