The 1948 Iranian Basketball Team

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to take a look into another country for whom we are missing significant amounts of data: Iran. Most of the information that we are missing comes from their first official foray into the Games in 1948. With so many names that deserve attention, we have decided to focus on the basketball squad for this post.

Two of the members of that team ended up becoming better known in other fields: Fereidoun Esfandiary later achieved fame as a transhumanist writer under the name of FM-2030, while Farhang Mohtadi had a lengthy career as an engineer at the University of Calgary and lived to the age of 94. Mohtadi was not the only nonagenarian on the team; Hossein Soudipour was 95 when he died in September 2017, as was Abolfazl Salabi when he died last year. We have complete information on many of the aforementioned individuals, as well as Ziaeddin Shademan, who died in Montreal in 2009 at the age of 85.

The mysteries begin with another claimant to longevity: Houshang Rafati. According to edits on Wikipedia, his family name was actually spelled Rafatjah and he was born on June 16, 1922 in Tehran. He later moved to Switzerland and died in Geneva on January 29, 2019, aged 96. Unfortunately, we have been able to verify this information.

(Hossein Soroudi)

For three other members, we at least know a year of death. Hossein Soroudi was not only a basketball player, but also a member of Iran’s national football team, a sport in which he represented his country at the 1951 Asian Games. We know that he died in 1992, but unfortunately do not have an exact date or a year of birth. Similarly, we know that Hussain Jabbar Zadegan died in July 1997 and Ferydoun Sadeghi in December 2005, but little else about either.

About the remaining four members, Asghar Ehssassi, Hossein Karandish, Hossein Hashemi, and Kazem Ashtari, we know nothing at all, not even whether or not they are still alive. They are among the many Iranian mysteries for whom language may very well be a critical barrier to our learning more. For example, we discovered that weightlifter Hussain Zarrini, born June 19, 1930, who represented the country in the featherweight division at the 1956 Melbourne Games, was still alive in December 2019, but in coma, and we have been unable to locate an update as to whether or not he pulled through. Thus we will very likely cover more Iranian Olympic mysteries in a future post.

Return of Olympic Missing Links

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to address a topic that we have not engaged in a while: a classic Olympic missing links post. These are individuals for whom we believe that we have a date of death, but cannot confirm that the information is accurate or connect it to the Olympian with certainty. We have accumulated many such cases over the last months and today we are going to feature five of them.

Arquímedes Arrieta – Member of Uruguay’s boxing delegation to the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Arquímedes Arrieta, born May 1, 1918, represented Uruguay in the featherweight boxing tournament at the 1936 Berlin Games, where he won his first-round bout against Sajiro Miyama of Japan, before losing to Great Britain’s Jack Treadaway in round two. According to Uruguay’s Civil Registration Index, an individual by this name died in 1937 in Montevideo. Unfortunately, there is no additional corroborating evidence (such as an age) to help prove that this was the Olympian, although we were unable to find any activity for the boxer after the Berlin Games, which makes it possible that the deceased individual and the Olympian were one and the same.

Tomás Vilanova – Member of El Salvador’s shooting delegation to the 1968 Mexico City Olympics

Tomás Vilanova, born January 18, 1925, represented El Salvador in two events at the 1968 Mexico City Games, coming in 49th in the rapid-fire pistol, 25 metres competition and 74th in the small-bore rifle, prone, 50 metres tournament. He had more success at the 1950 Central American and Caribbean Games, where he captured one gold and one silver medal. We uncovered an announcement in tribute to a Tomás Vilanova Mayorga that suggests he died c. July 2007. Unfortunately, because we do not have enough information about the Olympian, we cannot connect him for certain to this notice, even though his full name is relatively uncommon.

Kamil Gampe – Member of Czechoslovakia’s modern pentathlon delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

Kamil Gampe was one of three individuals to represent Czechoslovakia in the modern pentathlon at the 1928 Amsterdam Games, where he finished 35th and last. Although he has a name that is not common, we have been unable to find any additional information about him. The only reference to a Kamil Gampe outside of the Olympic context is to the son of Czech actress Milada Gampeová. Her son was born in 1903 and died in 1968, which would make him a candidate for the Olympian. Unfortunately, we have not been able to connect him to the Olympian or find any other information about him.

John Read – Member of Great Britain’s bobsleigh delegation to the 1956 Cortina d’Ampezzo Olympics

John Read, born February 27, 1926, represented Great Britain in the four-man bobsledding event at the 1956 Cortina d’Ampezzo Games, where his squad placed 17th out of 21 total entrants. Like many bobsledders, information on Read is scarce, which is not helped by his relatively common name. There is an entry in the England and Wales Death Registration Index for a John Sidney Read who was born on the same day in Salisbury and whose death was registered in the second quarter of 2000. This seems very likely to be the Olympian but, without further confirmation, we cannot be certain.

Albert Piaget – Member of Switzerland’s field hockey team at the 1960 Rome Olympics

Albert Piaget, born April 13, 1928, represented Switzerland in the field hockey tournament at the 1960 Rome Olympics, where his country placed 15th out of the 16 entered teams. Domestically, he was a member of Urania Genève Sport. We found a (now-removed) obituary for an Albert Piaget who died in October 2009 and would have been the same age as the Olympian. Unfortunately, there was insufficient information to make the connection.

Finally, based off of some tips from Connor Mah, we were able to uncover the life story of one of the 1904 Mohawk Indian lacrosse team: Almighty Voice. Almighty Voice, also known as Jacob Jamieson or Jimerson, was born February 19, 1873 on the Cattaraugus Reservation in New York and died August 15, 1960 in Coldspring, New York. He had an extensive sporting career in his youth and was well-known at the Carlisle Indian School. We were also able to locate his photograph, which is presented above.

South Vietnamese Olympic Mysteries

An Olympic committee for South Vietnam was recognized in 1952 and, unlike its northern counterpart, it sent athletes to the Summer Games from 1952 through 1972, after which it participated only as part of a unified Vietnamese team. Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to look into the three members from those squads for whom we are missing even a year of birth, in order to shed some light on these oft-forgotten delegations.

Trung Trung Lê and Trần Gia Thu – Member of South Vietnam’s cycling delegation to the 1956 Melbourne Games

South Vietnam sent a road race team to the 1956 Melbourne Games, but as none of the competitors were able to complete the event, the squad did not place. We know that one member of the team, Ngô Thành Liêm, was born in 1926 and died in 1980. Another member of the team, Nguyễn Hw Thoa, was also born in 1926, but as we know nothing else about him, he remains on our “possibly living” list. For the other two members, we have only an approximation for the year of birth. Trung Trung Lê was likely born c. 1928, which would place him among the Oldest Olympians were he still alive. Trần Gia Thu, on the other hand, was born c. 1934, which would make him slightly too young, but without any additional information on the lives of these individuals, we cannot say anything further.

(Vũ and Hương at the 1972 Munich Olympics)

Hương Hoàng Thi – Member of South Vietnam’s sport shooting delegation to the 1972 Munich Games

Hương Hoàng Thi represented South Vietnam in the free pistol, 50 metres event at the 1972 Munich Games, where she placed 56th out of 59 entrants. We do not have even an approximation for her year of birth, but we do know that he was married to another competitor, Vũ Văn Danh, born April 17, 1926, who is on our list of “possibly living” Olympians. It is likely that she is of a similar age, and therefore possibly among the Oldest Olympians were she still alive.

While there are many Vietnamese Olympians for whom we are missing data, we will stop here for today, because we also want to share a few updates. Firstly, we wanted to thank the family of Australian athlete Ted Allsopp, born August 15, 1926, who confirmed that he is still alive at the age of 95! We were also able to solve some of our Olympic medal mysteries, largely due to the help of Connor Mah. Enrico Perucconi, born January 4, 1925, who won a bronze medal with the Italian 4×100 metres relay team at the 1948 London Games, was still alive when we covered him on our blog, but he unfortunately died July 15, 2020 at the age of 95. Raymond Robinson, born September 3, 1929, who won two cycling medals for South Africa at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, died January 4, 2018. Argentine boxers Francisco Risiglione and Eladio Herrera, who won bronze medals in boxing at the 1936 Berlin and 1952 Helsinki Games respectively, died July 28, 1999 and November 25, 2014 respectively. Finally, Mah was able to find evidence that French bronze medal-winning cyclist Roland Bezamat, born May 26, 1928, was still alive at least in 2012, which means for now he remains on our list of living Olympians.

1948 Swiss Olympic Mysteries

On Oldest Olympians, we have often mentioned that Switzerland is a nation missing lots of biographical data despite its extensive participation in the Games. This is particularly true of their delegation to the 1948 London Olympics, where nearly four dozen competitors are missing even a year of birth. While of course we cannot cover them all, we did want to highlight several cases raised by researcher and frequent contributor Connor Mah as being potentially alive.

The one about whom we know the most is Maria-Anna Erismann, who was eliminated in round one of the 100 metres freestyle swimming competition. Even then, we are uncertain about the spelling of her first name, which is seen as Marianna, Marianne and Maria. Regardless, we do know that she was active primarily in the 1950s and won at least one national championship in that decade, which suggests that she was relatively young at the 1948 London Games. Unfortunately, the trail ends after the 1950s.

(Walter Kunz)

There are at least two more swimmers in London who went on to win Swiss national championships in the 1950s. Walter Kunz was the Swiss champion in the 100 metres butterfly in 1954, but at the 1948 Olympics he competed in the 200 metres backstroke, where he was eliminated in round one. Also competing in that event, with the same result, was Hans Widmer, who seems to have begun his career shortly after World War II. He too was a Swiss national champion in the mid-1950s.

(Vera Hagemann)

In other sports, fencer Vera Hagemann was a national fencing champion in 1947 before representing Switzerland in the individual foil in London, where she was eliminated in round one. She was still active two years later when she became the first female fencer at a club in Lucerne. In rowing, Maurice Matthey was eliminated in the round one repêchage of the double sculls event at the 1948 Games. He was very successful later in life, becoming the president of the Swiss Rowing Federation in the 1960s. (His Olympic partner, Maurice Gueissaz, is also missing all of his Olympic biographical data, although he seems to have been a bit older).

(Walter Keller)

Finally, for some Olympians, we have very little information at all, but based on their names not appearing in Swiss papers until after World War II, we speculate that they may have been young enough at the Games to still be alive. Athlete Walter Keller, who was eliminated in the first round of both the 400 metres and the 4×400 metres relay, is one example. One runner in that relay, Karl Volkmer, born March 20, 1922, was still alive as recently as 2015. Another, Max Trepp, born June 30, 1924, is on our possibly living list. A second example is water polo player Heinrich Keller, who may be the only survivor of the Swiss team that was eliminated in round one.

Mah also sent us an update on Swiss bronze medal-winning fencer Willy Fitting, born January 25, 1925, whom we profiled previously as an Olympic medal mystery. As it turns out, based on research by Patrick Houda, Fitting died April 26, 2017 at the age of 92. We also want to send our appreciation to Deborah Chai, who confirmed that her father, Olympic field hockey player for Singapore Chai Hon Yam, whom we profiled previously on this blog, was born in 1927 and did die on December 7, 2017.

Missing Data on Burmese Olympians

Myanmar/Burma is a country for which we have much missing data and, according to the OlyMADMen database, there are six competitors for whom we lack even a complete date of birth. We have covered one of them, 1948 boxer Saw Hardy, in a previous post, so today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to take a brief look at the remaining participants so that we can highlight their Olympic contributions and perhaps uncover more information about who these individuals were. Unfortunately, we have very little to say about most of these athletes.

Chow Park Wing – Member of Myanmar’s sailing delegations to the 1956 and 1960 Summer Olympics

Chow Park Wing, born c. 1924, represented Myanmar in two editions of the Olympic Flying Dutchman sailing tournaments, in 1956 and 1960, finishing 13th and 29th respectively. Both times, he competed alongside Gyi Khin Pe. Chow is the only Burmese competitor for whom we lack even a year of birth, although his approximate age at the time of competition suggests that he could still be alive.

Aw Chu Kee – Member of Myanmar’s weightlifting delegation to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics

Aw Chu Kee, born in 1926, represented Myanmar in weightlifting’s bantamweight division at the 1956 Melbourne Games, where he placed 11th out of 16 entrants. As far as we are aware, this is the only major international tournament in which he participated, and thus we have been unable to uncover more information about his life.

(Myo Thant, seated in the center, pictured on Flickr)

Myo Thant – Member of Myanmar’s boxing delegation to the 1948 London Olympics

Myo Thant, born in 1922, represented Myanmar in boxing’s flyweight division at the 1948 London Games, where he was eliminated in round two. He was a well-known boxer in his home country, active in the 1940s, and we have seen his name presented in several variations, but we have been able to uncover nothing about his life following his retirement from active competition.

Maung Win Maung – Member of Myanmar’s weightlifting delegation to the 1948 London Olympics

Maung Win Maung, born in 1921, represented Myanmar in weightlifting’s bantamweight division at the 1948 London Games, where he placed 15th out of 19 entrants. Like many Burmese athletes, there is uncertainty surrounding his name and very little information in general that we could find about his life.

Maung Sein Pe – Sole track athlete in Myanmar’s delegation to the 1948 London Olympics

Maung Sein Pe, born in 1920, represented Myanmar in both the 100 and 200 metres track event at the 1948 London Games, and was eliminated in the first round of both. Once again, we know very little else about him, but we hope that by highlighting his participation, we can learn more.

Finally, we wanted to provide an update on a recent post, where we mentioned that Romanian rower Ladislau Lovrenschi was potentially the oldest survivor of the 1988 Seoul Olympics. A commenter pointed out, however, that the Romanian Olympic Committee lists Lovrenschi as deceased, albeit without a precise date of death. This makes Austrian sport shooter Hermann Sailer, born November 1, 1933, the oldest survivor of the Seoul Olympics. We greatly appreciate having this pointed out and hope to include more updates in our next post!

Missing Data on Lebanese Olympians

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to cover a topic that we have hit upon eclectically, but never really devoted our full attention to: missing information on Lebanese Olympians. There are a lot of gaps in our data, but today we wanted to focus on four individuals who competed between 1948 and 1964 and may still be living, although we do not know enough about them to be sure either way.

Salem Salam – Member of Lebanon’s sport shooting delegation to the 1948 London Olympics

We know very little about Salem Salam, who represented Lebanon in the small-bore rifle, prone, 50 metres competition at the 1948 London Games. His result of 70th, among 71 competitors, is essentially the sum of this knowledge; even the picture we have seen of the 1948 Lebanese team cuts off some of the names (including his) leaving us unable to identify exactly who he is in the photograph. While sport shooters tend to be older than the average Olympian, it is certainly in the realm of possibility that he may still be alive.

(Michel Ghawi, pictured at Abdo Gedeon)

Michel Ghawi – Sole boxer in Lebanon’s delegation to the 1948 London Olympics

Michel Ghawi took up boxing at 15 years old and won the Lebanese national bantamweight title in 1947. At the 1948 London Games, however, he represented his country as a flyweight, where he lost in round one to Chile’s Manuel Videla. We know that he founded a club in 1944, so the absolute latest he could be born is roughly 1929. He was, however, likely much older by then, although it remains a possibility that he is still living.

Sami Beyroun – Member of Lebanon’s alpine skiing delegation to the 1964 Innsbruck Olympics

Of all the Olympians on this list, we know the least about Sami Beyroun. Even his name is uncertain, as one Arabic-language site lists him as “Samir Bayrouni”. All we can be certain of is that someone with this name or similar competed in three alpine skiing events at the 1964 Innsbruck Games, placing 80th and last among the finishers in the giant slalom and also competing in the slalom and downhill. Without any further information, we are limited in our ability to research his later life.

(Michel Rahme, pictured at Abdo Gedeon)

Michel Rahme – Member of Lebanon’s alpine skiing delegation to the 1964 Innsbruck Olympics

Like Sami Beyroun, Michel Rahme represented Lebanon in all three events at the 1964 Innsbruck Games, placing 75th in the both the downhill and giant slalom and 53rd in the slalom. While this was his only major competitive tournament, he spent many years with the Lebanese national team as an administrator. We have, however, unfortunately been unable to find more details about his more recent life, or if he is even still alive.

Finally, while on the subject of Lebanon, we wanted to publicly thank Zakaria Chihab’s son Bassam for confirm that his father, at 1952 Olympic bronze medalist and subject of an Olympic Mysteries post from last year, died in November 1984. We are not sure just yet what topic we will cover next, but we hope that you will join us!

Austrian Missing Links, Part II

Today on Oldest Olympians, we are presenting part two of our series on Austrian missing links. Last week we looked at cemetery records for individuals who may have competed at the 1936 and 1948 Games, but for whom the connection between the record and the Olympian was not certain. Today, we are going to complete the discussion by looking into potential links from 1928 and earlier.

Grete Kubitschek – Member of Austria’s figure skating delegation to the 1928 St. Moritz Olympics

Grete Kubitschek, born in 1903, represented Austria in the women’s singles figure skating event at the 1928 St. Moritz Games, where she placed 17th among 20 participants. She had been third at that year’s Austrian national championships and went on to place fifth at the 1929 World Championships. As to the rest of her life, we are a little unclear – she may have been the daughter of a well-known historian Wilhelm Kubitschek, as he was known to have a daughter named Grete born in the first decade of the 1900s. Either way, we have been unable to confirm that a cemetery record for a Margarete Kubitschek, born July 13, 1903 and died January 7, 2001, is the Olympian.

Richard Brünner – Member of Austria’s fencing delegations to the 1924 and 1928 Summer Olympics

Richard Brünner, born in 1889, represented Austria in three foil fencing events across two editions of the Games, reaching the quarterfinals of the team competitions in 1924 and 1928 and being eliminated in the first round individually in the latter year. He won silver and bronze in the team event in 1933 and 1931 respectively, and was a five-time foil and sabre national champion between 1920 and 1927. Cemetery records list a Richard Brünner born November 18, 1888 as having died November 25, 1962, but these unfortunately offer no further clue as to whether they are for the Olympian.

Hugo Philipp – Member of Austria’s fencing delegation to the 1924 Paris Olympics

Hugo Philipp, born in 1884, represented Austria in the team foil fencing event alongside Brünner at the 1924 Paris Games. We know nothing else aside from this, as he has a common name and does not appear to have had any other major international fencing results. As such, we cannot connect the cemetery record for a Hugo Philipp who died at the age of 86 and was buried on November 27, 1970, to the Olympian.

Toni Eichholzer – Member of Austria’s boxing delegation to the 1924 Paris Olympics

Toni Eichholzer, born August 5, 1903, represented Austria in the lightweight boxing tournament at the 1924 Paris Games and was eliminated in his first bout against Haakon Hansen of Denmark. It does not appear that Eichholzer ever turned professional, but he did take up coaching and training later in life. A record exists of an Anton Eichholzer having died at the age of 58 on March 19, 1961, which would make him one year older than the Olympian would have been.

Fritz Weinzinger – Member of Austria’s track and field athletics delegation to the 1912 Stockholm Games

Fritz Weinzinger, born July 14, 1890, represented Austria in the 100 metres and the 4×100 metres relay at the 1912 Stockholm Games, but he was eliminated in the first round of both. He was also entered into the 200 metres and the high jump, but did not start. He had set national records in these events at the end of the 1900s, but we could find nothing else about his life after the Games. A Friedrich Weinzinger who died May 22, 1963 at the age of 73 is a possible candidate, although this individual would have been one year older than the Olympian.

Those are all of the Austrian missing links that we are aware of, so next week we will be looking into a new topic and we hope that you will join us!

Austrian Missing Links

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to address a simple topic: Austrian missing links. Austria is a country for which we usually have good data and for whom we have access to thorough cemetery records that often help us catch those Olympians who died beneath the radar. Sometimes, however, the details do not quite match what we have in the database, and thus we cannot be certain that those listed in the cemetery records are the same individuals. We covered this topic previously, focusing on three Olympians: Adam Bischof, Walter Niederle, and Theodor Obrietan. We now want to expand our scope somewhat and thus today we will be looking at Austrian cemetery mysteries from 1936 and 1948.

Fritz Wächtler – Member of Austria’s figure skating delegation to the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Olympics

Fritz Wächtler, born October 13, 1906, represented Austria in figure skating’s pairs event at the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Games, where he placed 14th out of 19 out of the 19 duos that entered, alongside Eleanore Bäumel. A year earlier, they had been sixth at the European Championships. Aside from this, we do not know much about him, but an individual by this name died at the age of 57 and was buried July 31, 1963. The Olympian would have been one year younger at that time, so we cannot confirm that they are one and the same.

Franz Wenninger – Member of Austria’s water polo squad at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Franz Wenninger, born October 20, 1910, represented Austria in the water polo tournament at the 1936 Berlin Games, where his country placed sixth. A member of 1. Wiener Amateur Schwimmclub, he won a silver medal at the 1938 European Championships, but we know little of his postwar life. A cemetery has a Franz Wenninger, born August 20, 1910, dying August 1996, but his name is common enough that we cannot be certain that this is the Olympian.

Sebastian Ploner – Member of Austria’s water polo squad at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Sebastian Ploner, born May 27, 1907, was on the same team as Franz Wenninger that finished sixth in the water polo tournament at the 1936 Berlin Games. Being slightly older, his European Championship medal came in 1931, when Austria took bronze. The possible cemetery record for Ploner lists a man by that name who died at the age of 74 and was buried December 22, 1981. This age aligns with the Olympian, but the name is popular enough that we cannot be certain that the two are one and the same.

Emil Hübscher – Member of Austria’s athletics delegation to the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Emil Hübscher, born September 3, 1912, represented Austria in the 800 and 1500 metres events at the 1936 Berlin Games, where he was eliminated in the semifinals and round one respectively. He was also a reserve for the 4×400 metres relay, but did not compete. We again do not know much about his postwar life, but a cemetery record has an Emil Hübscher dying at the age of 46 and being buried March 6, 1958, which would be one year older than the Olympian.

Hermann Mazurkiewitsch – Member of Austria’s boxing delegation to the 1948 London Olympics

Hermann Mazurkiewitsch, born October 12, 1925, represented Austria in the bantamweight boxing tournament at the 1948 London Games, where he was eliminated in round one. He had better luck at the 1951 European Championships, where he won a bronze medal. He was also known as Hermann Mazurkiewicz, and a man by that name was buried February 6, 1985 in Vienna. Unfortunately, without more information, we cannot make the connection.

While we are at it, there are two more Austrian Olympic mysteries from this era that are not based in cemetery records. Grete Neumann, born June 19, 1910, represented Austria in the 100 metres and the 4×100 metres relay at the 1936 Berlin Games, but was eliminated in the first round of both. A three-time national champion in the relay, we learned of a Grete Neumann born May 19, 1910 in Schottwein who married a Hans Hirsch in 1935 and died February 8, 1996. While it seems unlikely that this is the Olympian, it is a possibility. Finally, Andreas Krapf, born March 21, 1913, represented Austria in the small-bore rifle, prone, 50 metres competition at the 1948 London Games and placed 50th. An anonymous user added a year of death of 2000 to his English Wikipedia page, but we have been unable to verify that this is accurate.

Oldest Winter Olympic Survivors Under the Age of 90

A few days ago on the Oldest Olympians blog, we looked into the oldest surviving competitors from editions of the Summer Games that had no survivors over the age of 90. Today, we wanted to do the same for Winter Olympians. As one might expect, with winter sports geared more towards younger participants, many of these “oldest” Olympians are relatively young. For example, the oldest participant at the 2018 PyeongChang Games was Finnish curler Tomi Rantamäki, born September 18, 1968. Similarly, the oldest competitor at both the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics was Mexican alpine skier Hubertus von Fürstenberg-von Hohenlohe, born February 2, 1959.

Werner Hoeger

Venezuelan luger Werner Hoeger, born December 15, 1953, was the oldest participant at the 2006 Turin Olympics, and actually competed against his son, Chris, in the singles (Chris edged out his father by placing 31st, ahead of Werner’s 32nd). Werner also competed at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, but at that edition five-time United States Virgin Island luger Anne Abernathy, born April 12, 1953, was older. To get to 1940s births, we have to go back to the 1998 Nagano Olympics and its oldest competitor, Canadian curler Paul Savage, born June 25, 1947, who won a silver medal in the men’s tournament.

Maurilio De Zolt

The oldest competitor at the 1994 Lillehammer Games was Sammarinese bobsledder Dino Crescentini, but he unfortunately died in 2008 in a motor car racing accident. This leaves Italian cross-country skier Maurilio De Zolt, born September 25, 1950, as the oldest survivor of that edition. Like many of the oldest competitors, De Zolt was a multi-Olympian, having represented his country five times. He won silver medals in the 50 kilometers in 1988 and 1992 and gold in the 4×10 kilometers relay in 1994. He also captured six medals at the World Championships, including gold in the 50 kilometers in 1987.

(John Reeve, pictured on the title card of the “Bet on Yourself” documentary)

Unfortunately, we do not know much about the oldest competitor from the 1992 Albertville Olympics, bobsledder Michael Juhlin of the United States Virgin Islands, born October 19, 1945. He participated in the four-man event and placed 29th out of 31 teams. Bobsledders from that country also made up the three oldest Olympians at the 1988 Calgary Games, with the oldest, Harvey Hook, born August 8, 1935, having died October 14, 2011. This leaves John Reeve, born November 7, 1937, as the oldest survivor of that edition, as he competed in the two man bobsleigh event and was entered in alpine skiing’s giant slalom competition, although he did not start. Of British origin, Reeve was inspired by Egypt’s alpine skier Jamil El-Reedy to take a shot at participating in the Winter Olympics and was featured in the documentary “Bet on Yourself” in his older age.

Reeve is the closest among these individuals to becoming an official “oldest Olympian”, and we look forward to celebrating that achievement in a few years. Until that time, we will be bringing you more stories of the oldest Olympians and hope that you will join us for our next blog entry!

Oldest Olympic Survivors Under the Age of 90

Here at Oldest Olympians we decided to take a break from blogging during the 2020 Tokyo Games – after all, day after day, there were much more interesting topics to keep track of during competition. Now that those Games have ended, however, we want to get back to some lengthier posts and help fill the gap a little between now and the 2022 Beijing Games.

A quick Google search will tell anyone that the oldest Olympian at the Tokyo Games was Australian equestrian Mary Hanna, born December 1, 1954. Hanna is no stranger to the Olympics, as 2020 was her sixth edition: she had competed previously in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2012, and 2016. At “only” 66, however, she naturally has quite a while to go before being featured on Oldest Olympians. Thus we asked ourselves instead, if we are going to feature Olympic years that currently have no living nonagenarians, why not go back a little further? Sticking with the theme of the Summer Games, we currently have no one listed as the oldest survivor of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, or for any edition from 1996 onward.

Hiroshi Hoketsu at the 2012 London Olympics

Going backwards, the oldest Olympian at the 2016 Rio Games was born only a few months before Hanna. Julie Brougham, born May 20, 1954, represented New Zealand in equestrian and was 44th in the individual dressage tournament. The oldest Olympian from the 2008 and 2012 editions, meanwhile, was Japanese equestrian Hiroshi Hoketsu, born March 28, 1941, who received particular attention due to the large gap between his appearances. Hoketsu made his Olympic début at the 1964 Tokyo Games and did not compete again until 2008, a considerable wait of 44 years! Meanwhile, 10-time Canadian equestrian Ian Millar, born January 6, 1947, is the oldest living Olympian from the 2004 Athens Games.

Moving back to 2000 allows us to discuss someone who is a little closer to being among the oldest Olympians: sport shooter Bruce Meredith, born April 19, 1937. Meredith represented the United States Virgin Islands at four consecutive editions of the Olympic small-bore rifle, prone, 50 metres event, from 1988 through 2000, with a best finish of joint-31st in 1992. In 2000, he was also the oldest participant in the Games. He also competed in the three positions, 50 metres event in 1988. He had more success at the Pan-American Games, capturing team gold in two events in 1967 and an individual silver in 1995, as well as the World Championships (team silver in 1970) and Central American and Caribbean Games (individual bronze in 1995). As he is still competing into his 80s, we look forward to celebrating his 90th birthday in a few years.

Even more prolific was Sweden’s Ragnar Skanåker, born June 8, 1934, who appeared at seven consecutive editions of the Olympics, from 1972 through 1996, winning gold in the free pistol, 50 metres event at his first appearance, and silver twice and bronze once in subsequent years. He also won a total of 14 medals, four of them gold, at the World Championships between 1978 and 1990, and is now the oldest living survivor of the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Ladislau Lovrenschi

Finally, it would not be an Oldest Olympians blog if there were not at least a semblance of an Olympic mystery. According to our records, the oldest survivor of the 1988 Seoul Games is Romanian rower Ladislau Lovrenschi, born June 21, 1932. Lovrenschi competed at four editions of the Olympics from 1968 through 1988, missing only the boycotted 1984 Los Angeles Games, and took bronze in the coxed pairs in 1972 and silver in the coxed fours in 1988. He was also a World Champion in the coxed pairs in 1970 and a bronze medalist in the coxed fours at the 1967 European Championships. While most sources have 1932 as his year of birth, some mention 1943, which would align better with his career. If it were the case that Lovrenschi was a decade younger, Austrian sport shooter Hermann Sailer, born November 1, 1933, would be the oldest survivor of the Seoul Olympics.

There are nine editions of the Winter Olympics without any survivors over the age of 90, which means that this topic merits a future post of its own. Thus, for now, we will leave you with the summer Olympians and hope that you will join us next time!

All the Olympic Stats You'll Ever Need