The 1932 Northern Ontario Curling Team

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to share a different kind of mystery from 1932, one focusing on the winter edition, held in Lake Placid, rather than the summer. It concerns the curling demonstration event, the “Northern Ontario” team that won two of its games and lost another two, and one mystery competitor.

(Coverage of the 1932 curling demonstration event from Vancouver’s The Province, February 5, 1932, pg. 18)

We place “Northern Ontario” in quotations because while that was the team’s official designation, research by Connor Mah and Rob Gilmore has demonstrated that none of the members were actually from that region of the province. Cecil George was a member of the Orillia Curling Club, while Johnny Walker and Peter Lyall were from Montreal. It is with the fourth competitor, therefore, listed as W. W. Thompson, that the mystery lies.

(W.W. Thompson of Winnipeg, as pictured in the Annual Bonspiel of the Manitoba Curling Association – Vol 61 – 1949)

If his name were accurate, as listed in the Olympic Report, William Winfred “Wynn/Winn” Thompson of Winnipeg, born January 19, 1885 in Bethany, Ontario and died in 1957, would be the likely candidate. This Thompson was well-known in curling circles as a player and executive and became an honorary life member of the Manitoba Curling Association for his services in 1948. Given that none of the other players on the team were from Northern Ontario, his home base of Manitoba does not present too many concerns. Some sources, however, leave ambiguity to other important questions: did Thompson play in all four of the team’s matches? Did he even play at all?

(Clip about W. G. Allen from the February 5, 1932 edition of the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, pg. 17)

Winnipeg sportswriter William George Allen would have answered at least the first question as a “no”. Allen, born April 5, 1880 and died January 9, 1939, was well-known as a local sportswriter who claimed in a 1932 article that he had played in one of the Northern Ontario team’s matches in Lake Placid. This is supported by at least one contemporary report, from the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, which notes that Allen and Lyall “filled in the gap” on the squad and competed in a match against a New York rink.

One additional source complicates matters even further. It suggests that the original lineup of the Northern Ontario team was a no-show, and that Cecil George and another Orillia curler, E. E. Webb, attended the Games as visitors, only to answer the call to help replace the Northern Ontario squad and actually compete in the event. With all of this, it seems that all we can say for certain at this point is that Lyall and George certainly competed, Walker (mentioned briefly in reports) almost certainly did, and Thompson and Webb may have taken part in at least one match each. To go back to the second question, however, it is possible that Thompson never actually took part, and that the Olympic Report was merely reflecting an outdated entry list.

That is what we have for today, but we intend to continue our look into the depression-era Olympics by returning to the absent Egyptian national delegation. We hope that you enjoyed today’s post and that you will join us next time as well!

The 1932 Egyptian Athletics Delegation

After last week’s blog post on a theoretical Egyptian football squad at the 1932 Los Angeles, we got to thinking – what if Egypt had sent a full delegation to those Games? Unlike with football, other sports held national championships that year that would give a strong indication as to who might have represented the country in various events. Thus, we have decided to spend a little bit of time writing about each sport and who might have been an Olympian had Egypt not boycotted the Games.

(Part one of the results of the 1932 Egyptian national athletics championships, from the April 11, 1932 edition of Al-Ahram)

Today we are looking into track and field athletics, arguably the highlight of any edition of the Summer Olympics. Egypt, however, has never been a powerhouse in this sport; its best result in the history of the Games came when Hassan Badra placed 11th in the triple jump at the 1984 Los Angles Olympics. This, however, provides us with an opportunity to delve into the ostensible focus of this blog, Olympic mysteries, since those Egyptians who did compete in track and field in the earliest editions of the Games tend to be relatively obscure.

(Part two of the results of the 1932 Egyptian national athletics championships)

The task is complicated slightly by the fact that Greek clubs tended to dominate this sport prior to World War II. From 1920 on, however, Egypt’s delegations to the Olympics were composed almost exclusively of indigenous Egyptians. As we mentioned in the previous post, Egypt boycotted the 1932 Los Angeles Games precisely because they were represented by a Greek, rather than an Egyptian, on the IOC, and thus it seems highly unlikely that they would have sent any individuals of Greek ancestry to the Games if they had participated.

This leaves us with only five Egyptians who earned individual medals at the national championships in 1932, thus limiting the pool of who might have been on the team. This is not surprising: Egypt had two athletics competitors in 1920, one in 1924, and none in 1928. What is a little more unexpected is that the 1924 competitor, Mohamed El-Sayed of Alexandria, was still in good form in 1932. El-Sayed had represented Egypt in the 1500 and 5000 metres events at the 1924 Paris Games, but was eliminated in the heats of each. Born in 1905, he was in his late-20s in 1932 and still performing well domestically: he won the 1500, 5000 and 10,000 metres and was runner-up in the 800 metres.

Thus we suspect that El-Sayed would have represented Egypt in at least the former three events in Los Angeles. His 1932 winning time of 15:45 in the 5000 would not have allowed him to exit the qualification round, while even his best time of 15:23.4, set in 1928, would have left him well outside the medal range. As for the 10,000 metres, he won the nationals with 35:57, far off of podium time. His best event was the 1500, and he has a personal best set that year of 4:12.4. Even this, however, although perhaps qualifying him for the final in Los Angeles, would not have been sufficient for a podium finish. Unfortunately, given how common his name was, and the limited attention given to athletics in Egypt during this era, we have no further biographical details about him and know nothing about his later life.

At the 1932 national championships, the runner-up in the 1500 and the winner of the 800 metres was Abu Al-Yazid El-Halawani, born in 1907, who represented Haras Galalat Al-Malik (King’s Guard). His winning time at the nationals, 2:04.4, would have been the slowest time in the event in Los Angeles. El-Halawani, however, would hit the peak of his career a few years later, when on May 16, 1936, he set an Egyptian record of 1:52 in the 800 and was selected to represent his country in that event, as well as the 400 metres hurdles, at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. His 800 time would have put him in contention for gold at the Games (which makes us suspicious that this result was a misprint or error), but he was, per the August 4, 1936 edition of the Egyptian Gazette, “unfit” in Berlin and did not start either competition. Nonetheless, he continued to compete and was the Egyptian runner-up in the 400 metres and the 400 metres hurdles in 1939. Unfortunately, we were unable to discover what happened to him after World War II.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Abu Sobea of Cairo, born in 1907, was the runner-up in the 5000 and 10,000 metres events at the 1932 national championships. Like El-Halawani, he was a member of Haras Galalat Al-Malik and reached his peak a few later when he was selected to represent Egypt in the 1500 and 5000 meters in Berlin. While he did not start the 1500, he did compete in the 5000, but was eliminated in the heats. He set a personal best of 15:41.6 in 1938 and was runner-up in that event again in 1939, which led to his selection to represent Egypt at the 1940 Summer Olympics. That tournament’s subsequent cancellation meant that Abu Sobea likely missed out on two editions of the Games that he would otherwise have been eligible for. Unfortunately, details of his later life are also unknown.

The final competitors are more mysterious. An individual by the name of Sadiq Muhammad, of Haras Al-Hadud (Border Guards), was runner-up in the discus, with 35.19 metres, and javelin throw, with 49.385 metres, and third in the 400 metres. Neither of his field marks would have placed him in contention for the final. As his name is very common and he never participated in the Olympics, we know nothing else about him. Finally, ‘Id ‘Abd Al-Saadiq, of the Cairo Club, came in third in the 10,000 metres. He also competed into the late 1930s, but does not appear to have been a contender for the Berlin Games.

We suspect, therefore, that the first three on this list certainly would have taken part in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics if given the chance. Perhaps if they had, we would know more about them today, although it is equally possible that they would have remained just as forgotten due to the lack of attention paid to Egyptian track and field athletics at the time. Regardless, we hope that you found this post at least a little interesting and hope that you will join us when we look at other possibly make-ups for the 1932 Egyptian sports!

WHAT WILL KATIE DO?

So Katie Ledecky will swim at her third US Olympic Trials tomorrow, starting her Olympic campaign in the 400 metre freestyle. What can she accomplish at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in terms of her Olympic legacy?

Ledecky will swim 4 individual events at the Trials – the 200, 400, 800, and 1500 metre freestyles – and is almost a lock to make the US team in all 4 events. Making the team in the 200 freestyle will put her on the 4×200 freestyle relay team, and she may also be placed on the team as a prelim swimmer for the 4×100 freestyle relay. That would be 6 events in an ideal scenario.

Ledecky currently has 6 Olympic medals – 5 gold and 1 silver. If she were to win 6 gold medals, which I think is an extreme long shot, she would equal the Olympic record for women set by East German swimmer Kristen Otto at the 1988 Seoul Olympics who had, shall we say, some assistance.

Just winning 6 medals would put Ledecky in elite company, giving her 12 Olympic medals. That would be equal 3rd all-time among female Olympians, trailing Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina (18) and Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjørgen (15). She would then tie 3 American swimmers – Jenny Thompson, Dara Torres, and Natalie Coughlin – and East German canoeist Birgit Fischer-Schmidt.

I think its more reasonable to think Ledecky could win 4 Olympic medals, as a medal in the 200 free or the 4×100 free relay are by no means guarantees. That would give her 10 medals and bring her to equal 9th on the list for female Olympians.

However, Ledecky has a better chance to assault the Olympic record book for most gold medals among women. She has 5 gold medals, and the record for women is 9 by Latynina, with Bjørgen, Thompson, and Fischer-Schmidt next with 8 gold medals.

Ledecky could win 5 gold medals in the 4 freestyle races and the 4×200 free relay, but that is a long shot. She will be favored in the 800 and 1,500, and the USA will likely be favored in that relay, but she is not expected to win the 200 free. In the 400 free, she has been dominant but Australia’s Ariarne Titmus swam the 2nd fastest time ever yesterday at the Australian Olympic trials, and is the world leader for 2021. Titmus defeated Ledecky at the 2019 World Championships, although Ledecky was sick there, but Titmus and Ledecky will battle it out in the 400 free.

If Ledecky could win 5 gold medals, she would become the all-time leader among Olympic women with 10 gold medals. She would also become the second female Olympian, after Otto, to win more than 4 gold medals at a single Games. Even if she wins 4 gold medals she would tie Larisa Latynina for the most Olympic gold medals won by a woman.

The 1932 Egyptian Olympic Football Squad

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to engage in some speculation: in an alternate timeline, who might have been on Egypt’s football squad had they played at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics? The question is problematic for two reasons, the first being that there was no football tournament at these Games, as FIFA wanted to promote the World Cup instead. Even if there had been, however, Egypt would not have been there as they boycotted these Olympics due to their lack of proper representation at the International Olympic Committee, where their member was Angelos Bolonaki, a Greek in all but residence, rather than an Egyptian. So why bother to even ask this question? Speculative history can be fun, and we have seen this very inquiry pursued for other teams that might have made the Games. Since Egypt is our area of expertise, we felt that it might be worthwhile in engaging in a little bit of “what if?”

The logical place to search for answers in this regard would be to look at the surrounding international tournaments and see who would have been in their prime in 1932. Thankfully, we have three of the four major data points in this regard, as Egypt took part in the 1928 and 1936 Olympic tournaments, as well as the 1934 World Cup. What about the 1930 World Cup? Egypt was definitely invited, even though they ultimately did not attend, so it stands to reason that there may have been a squad prepared that would give us more clues.

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case. According to Yasser Ayoub’s excellent and detailed Arabic-language work “Egypt and Football”, no confirmed account of why Egypt did not participate in 1930 has survived, leaving three common explanations: that the distance to Uruguay was too far, that a squad was prepared but missed their boat, and that the British blocked Egypt’s participation. Ayoub ultimately rejects all of these answers, speculating instead that there simply was not enough interest in Egypt to send a team to the first World Cup, outside of a small faction of diehard football fans. Thus, there was no 1930 lineup from which we can draw more information.

(Mokhtar El-Tetsh)

One obvious inclusion would be Mokhtar El-Tetsh, one of Egypt’s most famous footballers of the era and a powerful striker. El-Tetsh attended all three of the aforementioned tournaments (as well as the 1924 Paris Olympics) and would almost certainly have been on the 1930 World Cup squad had such a team existed. It was during a review of his career, however, that we came across an interesting series of matches, ones that did not involve him.

(Announcement of the squad to face the Hungarians from Al-Ahram, January 31, 1932)

In February 1932, a Hungarian team visited Egypt for a series of matches to test the mettle of the two national squads. A little archival research helped us locate the Egyptian lineup for those games, the first squad of which is listed as follows:

Goalkeeper: Mukhtar Amin

Backs: Kamel Masoud, Ahmed Salem

Other Defense: Amin Sabry, Hassan Raghab, Hassan Al-Swifi

Attackers: Latif, Mansour, Ramzi, Mustafa Kamel, Mahran

(Mohamed Latif)

Ahmed Salem is probably Ahmed Mohamed Salem, who represented Egypt at both the 1924 and 1928 Summer Olympics. Latif is almost certainly Mohammed Latif, who debuted on the national side in 1932 and would go on to play at the Olympics in 1936, while Mansour is likely the Ahmed Mansour who was a reserve for Egypt at both the 1924 and 1928 editions. Mustafa Kamel must be Mustafa Kamel Taha, a well-known player who also appeared at the 1936 Berlin Games. Four of the listed individuals represented Egypt at the 1934 World Cup: Latif, Mustafa Kamel, Kamel Masoud and Hassan Raghab. Additionally, Amin Sabry was part of the team that helped qualify Egypt for the World Cup, although he had no playing time in the tournament itself.

As for the others, Mukhtar Amin never appeared at the Olympics or the World Cup, but he had a lengthy career that stretched back to the first half of the 1920s and extended to at least 1935, so he certainly could have been on the 1932 squad (he may be the same individual as Ahmed Mokhtar, a non-starter on Egypt’s 1928 Olympic team, but this is not confirmed). Hassan Al-Swifi had a lesser-known career, but he did earn domestic titles at the end of the 1920s and first half of the 1930s. “Mahran” is most likely Mahmud Mahran, another domestic title holder of the late 1920s and early 1930s, and all would certainly be candidates for a theoretical 1932 squad. The only individual we were not able to identify was “Ramzi”; although there was a player with the name active at the time, we have not been able to uncover any details about his life or career.

This list gives us a good window into what a potential 1932 squad may have looked like, but there are too many variables to know for certain, especially since the same article lists a “second” and “third” team that includes many more players who were well-known at the time. We feel, however, that this has gone on for long enough without looking into these additional lineups, so we will stop here. We hope, however, that you found this to be at least a little interesting, and that you will join us next time for another Olympic blog post!

1948 British Olympians with Missing Dates of Birth

Today on Oldest Olympians we have decided to delve into a rather specific topic: British Olympians who competed at the 1948 London Games, but for whom we lack a date of birth. Thanks to some great work by Connor Mah and Rob Gilmore, this is a relatively small list, containing only three entries, and they have been able to uncover some good potential leads. Thus, without further ado, let us present what we know.

The British Basketball team. (Photo by Barratts/PA Images via Getty Images)

(#9 Frank Cole and #8 Colin Hunt pictured with the 1948 British Olympic basketball squad at Getty Images)

Two of these individuals were members of the basketball squad that placed 20th overall in the tournament, both of whom played domestically for Birmingham Dolobran at the time of the Olympics. The first, Frank “Tiny” Cole, had been active in the prewar era and was an international representative for Britain as early as 1938. He captained the squad during a 1939 trip to Germany and also competed in Switzerland in 1946. Unfortunately, due to the commonness of his name and the limited attention paid to basketball in Britain during this era, Cole is the only one of the three for whom we have no candidate for his identity.

Mah and Gilmore had a little more luck with the second basketball player, Colin L. Hunt. Like Cole, Hunt was active in the prewar era and also represented Great Britain internationally during the 1930s. One candidate is Lucian Colin Hunt, born 1914 and died 1958, who was a resident of Birmingham during this time, but for whom no concrete connection to the Olympian can be found. If his middle initial were incorrect, then he might also be Colin Marwood James Hunt, born June 7, 1912 and died July 25, 1994, but, again, there is no strong evidence connecting him to the basketball player outside of his place of residence and age being appropriate.

The third individual is sports shooter George A. J. Jones, who was 18th in the small-bore rifle, prone, 50 metres event. Like Cole and Hunt, Jones was an international competitor for Great Britain prior to World War II and remained active through at least 1950, representing the Twickenham Rifle Club after the conflict. He may be George Arthur James Jones, born January 16, 1912 and died in late 1983, but, once again, research has been unable to prove that he and the shooter and one and the same.

That is what we have for today, but we have already got a few more topics in the queue for blog entries, so we hope that you will join us again soon for another post!

1928 Belgian Missing Names

Today on Oldest Olympians we are completing our series on competitors with missing full names from the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics by looking into Belgium. Belgium had proven to be one of the more difficult European countries to track down information from, especially in the earlier editions of the Olympics. Thus there are a surprising nine Belgians for whom we are missing full names for from 1928: five members of their coxed eights squad, two weightlifters, one water polo player, and one sailor.

Starting with the last individual, the sailor known as A. J. J. Fridt was a member of the five-man 6-metre class crew at the Games, about each of whom we have varying degrees of information. Fridt is the only one missing a name, but we do know that he was a yacht owner from Antwerp, although this has not helped us identify him. The team finished fifth out of 13 nations. The water polo player, F. Bettens, won a bronze medal in that sport at the 1927 European Championships, but we still do not know his full name. In the Olympic tournament, the Belgians were eliminated in the quarter-finals. Of the weightlifters, we know a little more about V. Van Hamme, who was born c. 1897, as he had competed previously as a middleweight at the 1924 Paris Games. In 1928, however, he was a lightweight and placed 12th out of 18 entrants. Another entrant was his compatriot J. Adriaenssens, who failed to complete the competition.

(George Anthony, pictured in the middle, who was one of the members of the Belgian coxed eights squad)

In terms of the Belgian coxed eights squad, we are missing full biographical data for the entire team, although we do know the full names of three of its members. For a fourth, J. Jonlet, we suspect that he may have been Jean-Marie Gerard Jonlet, born November 20, 1906 in Liège and died April 10, 1987 in Uccle, although we have not been able to confirm this. R. Macors may be Renier Macors, but this is just a guess based on limited evidence. For the other three, J. Van Malderen, H. Micha, and A. Lambrecht, Jr., we have little to say.

That concludes our rather brief look at the missing names from the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. In the future, we may look at the 1924 Games, which has a similar cohort of unknown individuals, but we will also be bringing new topics to our weekly blog as well, so we hope that you will join us!

Olympians Competing for an Unknown Country

Today on the Oldest Olympics blog, we wanted to make a quick post about a slightly offbeat topic: competitors for whom the country they represented is unknown. Before 1908, there are more than a handful of competitors for whom their nation is debatable. For example, as noted in Jeroen’s recent post about the first Olympics with competitors from across the world, double tennis silver medalist Demetrius Casdagli is listed as Greek in most places, although he never identified as such and a case could be made for him being Egyptian or, more strongly, British.

That situation, however, is not what we are raising here today. Instead, we wanted to highlight the case of two Olympians for whom we do not have any evidence of what country they represented: Fritz Eccard and A. Laffen. Both competed in the Olympic art competitions at the 1912 Stockholm Games, specifically the architecture event.

(The winning architecture entry from the 1912 Olympic art competitions, pictured at 24heures.ch)

As noted by Bill Mallon, “The names of the 1912 Olympic art competitors mostly derive from an anonymous piece of paper in the IOC archives. Although deciphered by Richard Stanton, not all of the names have been matched to known architects”. Thus, lacking this identifying information (as well as the name of their submission), it is unknown what countries Eccard and Laffen might have represented. In Eccard’s case, there are a few individuals by this name and of an appropriate age in Switzerland and Germany, but none that can be linked to architecture, let alone the Olympian. For Laffen, we have no clues to go on at all.

That is all there is to the story at this point, but we thought it would be an interesting case to share with our readers. Before we conclude this entry, however, we wanted to point out one more update. Two posts ago we discussed Olympians who had been removed from our lists recently without any notice. Today we have more to add: Danish rower Ove Nielsen, born November 15, 1924. Until recently, we believed that we had confirmation from 2015 that he was still alive. Unfortunately, it turns out that he died at the end of 2008, long before becoming a nonagenarian, and thus we have removed him from our tables.

First Olympics with competitors from across the world?

A few days ago, the IOC’s official Twitter channel asked the following question:

Most answers were “Stockholm 1912”, which was later also confirmed as the correct one. But my answer would have been “well, that depends”. Of course, that could be because I used to be a consultant, but I think there’s really multiple possible answers here.

One reason for this is there’s no universal definition of “continent”. There are said to be five continents here by the IOC. According to the definitions at Wikipedia, there’s one configuration with five continents, but that includes Antarctica. Of course, there have never been any Olympians from there, so we’ll look at the options with six continents. Excluding Antarctica, that gives us:

  1. Africa, Asia, Europe, America and Australia
  2. Africa, Eurasia, North America, South America and Australia

As for the first option, it’s also worth noting that two countries relevant to us are in both Asia and Europe: Turkey and Russia.

Athens 1896

With this in mind, the first possible answer is Athens 1896. But this is a bit of a stretch. If we look at continental configuration 1, it’s clear that participants from Europe, America and Australia have competed. There are some participants, however, that are usually listed as Greek that could be said to hail from Asia and Africa, though. For example, tennis player Casdagli is sometimes listed as Egyptian (and he lived there part of his life, although British is probably a better guess for his nationality), while cyclist Loverdos hailed from Smyrna, which is in the Asian part of Turkey. Stretching even further, we could look at continental configuration 2. That eliminates the need for an Asian competitor, but requires a South American one. This might have been Subercaseaux, who some Chilean researchers insist competed, but the evidence for that is limited at best.

Paris 1900

The case for 1900 being the right answer is much more reasonable than 1896. There definitely were competitors from Australia, Europe, North and South America, as well as Asia. Three competitors in gymnastics definitely hailed from Africa: Castiglioni, Koubi and Martinez all represented a club from Oran, Algeria, and hailed from the same place. However, they are usually listed as French, given that nation’s control of Algeria at the time.

St. Louis 1904

St. Louis definitely featured competitors from (North) America, Europe and Africa, as well at least one Australian. However, there were no Asians in the events that are normally considered of Olympic status. But such distinction was not clearly made in 1904, so you could make the case that the rather embarrassing Antropological Days should be included as well. This display included “athletes” (they were attendees to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition) from various “primitive” people. This include Native Americans (including from Patagonia, thus also covering South America), but also Japan and the Philippines, giving room for an argument there were Asian competitors.

Athens 1906

The Intercalated Games – held at the 10th anniversary of the first Olympics – are not presently recognised by the IOC as official Olympics, but given the official status at the time and its importance for the Olympic Movement, I’m including it here. When using the first continental configuration, the question marks are Asia and Africa. Like for 1896, there’s representatives typically listed as Greek that could be termed Asian (e.g. from Smyrna) or African (again Casdagli, as well as his brother). The Asian link is a bit stronger, though: one athlete from Ankara (albeit of Armenian heritage) also competed.

London 1908

For 1908, the only question mark is Asia. There was one Turkish competitor, Aleko Mulos, so one might say Asia was represented. However, given that he represented the Galatasaray High School, we might surmise Mulos was from the European part of Istanbul, making his claim as an Asian competitor a bit weak. It’s possible, though, that one of the six Russian competitors hailed from across the Ural (and were thus Asian), but details on these competitors are scarce, but I’m not aware of any that did.

Finally, we might inspect the huge British contingent. That featured several athletes born in Asia, and several of them spent most of their lives there, such as William Knyvett, so they might be termed Asians. However, from 1908 on all competitors officially represented a country or NOC, so most conventional is to view them as British.

Stockholm 1912

Finally, there’s 1912, the “official” answer. This is the first year where we can do an unqualified claim: with Japan competing, there is no need to depend on the cross-continental nations of Turkey and Russia to put a check next to Asia. And with the – this time undisputed – presence of Chile, even the adherents of the second continental configuration can be satisfied.

Embed from Getty Images

I hope the above makes clear that even such a simple question has a complex answer if you’re into Olympic statistics. But, if pressed to give a single answer, I would probably go for Paris 1900

1928 Indian Athletics Delegation

Recently on Oldest Olympians, we have been looking into the topic of Olympians from the 1928 Amsterdam Games who are missing their full names in our database. Three of those names come from the 21-man Indian delegation, the majority of which consisted of the gold medal-winning field hockey squad. Thus, broadly speaking, we have a lot of good, albeit not complete, biographical information about the team.

(Dalip Singh)

There were also, however, seven track and field athletes who represented India at the Amsterdam Olympics. We have complete dates of birth and death for only one of them, James Hall, who was entered into several events in both 1924 and 1928 . We know much about another, Dalip Singh, who is alleged to be the first Sikh to represent India at the Games, taking part in the long jump in both 1924 and 1928. Although we do not know Dalip Singh’s date of death, his son Balkrishan won a field hockey gold medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and thus the family is well-known. Two others have at least full names, although we are uncertain if these are the names they actually went by: Dr. B. Chavan (or Chawan) Singh in the 10,000 metres and Gurbachan Singh in the 5,000 metres.

(S. Abdul Hamid)

For the remaining three, we are missing even a full name. S. Abdul Hamid, born c. 1907, was eliminated in the first round of 110 and 400 metres hurdles. He had a successful national career during the late 1920s, but he was usually referred to as simply “Abdul Hamid”. R. Burns of Bengal, meanwhile, was similarly eliminated in the opening rounds of the 100 and 200 metres events. Finally, J. Murphy of Madras was eliminated in round one of the 800 metres.

Unfortunately, with such limited information on these athletes, there is not much to say aside from presenting the mystery. With India being remember at the Games primarily for the achievements in field hockey, however, we did appreciate the opportunity to remind our readers that their sporting history has actually been more diverse.

A Handful of Small Updates

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to do a quick roundup of a handful of miscellaneous cases that merit a little more than a regular post, but a little less than their own blog entry. In that regard, today we wanted to present two removals from the list that have not yet been mentioned, and two cases that went under our radar, but just long enough ago that they do not meet the criteria for an independent post.

(Gavril Serfözö, pictured at Romanian Soccer)

In the former category, we first have Romanian footballer Gavril Serfözö, who in 2019 we featured as having recently turned 93 based on a source from 2011 that celebrated his 85th birthday. Serfözö, born September 25, 1926 (although we listed him previously as born on the 26th), represented his country in the tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, where Romania was eliminated in the qualifying round. With no updates since 2011, he was slated for removal next year but, thanks to a contributor on Wikipedia who sent us a death certificate, we learned that the original report we read had been in error and Serfözö died May 16, 2002 at the age of 75.

(Spencer Spaulding, pictured in the April 10, 1947 edition of The Times Record)

Next, at the end of 2018, we featured the case of American lacrosse player Spencer Spaulding, born December 27, 1926, who had represented the United States in the demonstration event at the 1948 London Olympics. There, his team from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute tied an All-England squad 5-5. He held a doctorate in theoretical physics, had a distinguished career at RCA, and had just published a book of short stories the previous year, so we were much more confident that he was still alive than in Serfözö’s case. Unfortunately, we learned from a blog comment via Connor Mah that he had died earlier in 2018, although we have been unable to locate an obituary or a family contact to confirm an exact date.

Finally, we wanted to end with two nonagenarian deaths pointed out by a user on Wikipedia, which occurred just outside the frame that we would normally announce them on Oldest Olympians, because they went beneath our radar. First, Charles Van Antwerpen, born June 10, 1925, who represented Belgium in rowing’s coxless pairs and coxless fours events at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics respectively, died December 12, 2019 at the age of 94. He was a three-time medalist at the European Championships, including gold in the coxless fours in 1951. Secondly, Franz Frauneder, born December 6, 1927, who represented Austria in the coxed fours at the 1948 London Olympics, died July 9, 2020 at the age of 92.

We wanted to once again thank all of the contributors who have provided us with information that moves our research forward. That is what we have for this week, but next week we intend to look into more missing names from the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, so we hope that you will join us!

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