Olympians Atop Everest

Which Olympians have climbed Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world? We know of 4 such feats, as follows:



Manuela Di Centa,ITA,CCS,1984-98,Climbed Everest in 2003.

George Mallory?,GBR,ALP,1924,Attempted to climb Everest in 1922 and 1924.

Gota Miura,JPN,FRS,1994-98,Climbed Everest in 2003.

Steve Williams,GBR,ROW,2004-08,Climbed Everest in 2011.


There was some circumstantial evidence that Mallory may have peaked on Everest in 1924, although it now considered that he did not summit and died on the descent. He was posthumously given an Alpinism gold medal by the IOC. His body was found on the mountain in 1999.

Mallory’s gold medal was actually given to his Mount Everest expedition of 1922, which definitely did not summit. The members of that crew, who could also be considered as Olympians on Everest were: Charles Granville Bruce (GBR); Bill Strutt (GBR); Henry Morshead (GBR); John Noel (GBR); Tom Longstaff (GBR); Geoffrey Bruce (GBR); Howard Somervell (GBR); Arthur Wakefield (GBR); Edward Norton (GBR); Colin Crawford (GBR); John Morris (GBR); George Finch (AUS); Tejbir Bura (NEP); Narbu Sherpa (IND); Lhakpa Sherpa (IND); Pasang Sherpa (IND); Pembra Sherpa (IND); Antarge Sherpa (IND); Temba Sherpa (IND); and Sange Sherpa (IND).

The 1922 expedition made 3 attempts to summitt, with 7 Sherpas dying in an avalanche on the 3rd attempt. The medals were given to Lieutenant Bill Strutt, as Charles Granville Bruce was unavailable while preparing for another ascent. Coubertin spoke of why the medals were given to this group:

“For the first time a gold medal is awarded for alpinism, and it is awarded to the glorious expedition to the Mount Everest. Not content with having almost succeeded, they are preparing a renewed effort to finish the ascent.

Mr. Representative of the mission, we welcome your presence for the beautiful heroism displayed. At the foot of the highest mountain in Europe, we present you and your wonderful companions with this small testimony of the admiration with which all nations have followed your journey towards the untouched peaks of the highest mountain in the world. We accompany this gesture by prayers for the completion of a work that will honor not only your country but all humanity.”

See also http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/friv/lists.cgi

Medals A Long Time Coming

As a group that delves in the world Olympic statistics, when Aleksandr Zubkov won a gold medal in bobsledding at Sochi this February, something immediately struck us about that victory. Zubkov had first competed in the Winter Olympics in 1998, but this was his first gold medal – 16 years from his Olympic début to the gold medal. We wondered – is this a record, and what are the records for the longest time it takes an athlete to win an Olympic medal or gold medal, from their Olympic début, to the day they win the medal.

Now we are only considering times to the actual year of the Olympics in which the medal was won. We’re not going to get into cases like Ingemar Johansson, the Swedish heavyweight boxer, who was disqualified in the 1952 final and was not awarded a silver medal initially, only to receive it in 1982 after the IOC rescinded that decision. Other similar cases are several of the more recent doping disqualifications several years after the Olympics, notably Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong, the case of Jim Thorpe, whose family finally received his gold medal (again) in 1983, or the 1952 boxing bronze medalists who did not receive their medals until 1970 (see my recent article on this in Journal of Olympic History – “The 1952 Olympic Boxing Bronze Medals”)

So we’ve worked out the stats on this somewhat arcane bit of Olympic trivia, and yes, Zubkov took longer to win a gold medal than any male winter Olympic gold medalist ever. Its somewhat unusual that it takes this long for Olympic medalists or gold medalists to win their first medals, or golds. Since 1896, there have been 26,403 Olympic athletes win medals (out of a total of 126,587 known Olympic competitors), and 21,727 of those medalists won the medals at their début Olympics – or about 82% of the time. For the gold medalists, there are 9,706 of them, of which 7,127 won their gold medals at their first Olympics – or about 76%.

So its unusual to wait as long as these athletes did – and it takes more than waiting. It takes a lot of training and perseverance.


Longest Time – Olympic Début to Medal, Men, Summer


Range,Name (NOC-Sport; Début Year-Year of Medal)

36,Ian Millar (CAN-EQU; 1972-2008)

32,Louis Noverraz (SUI-SAI; 1936-1968)

24,Ioannis Theofilakis (GRE-SHO; 1896-1920)

24,Henri Jobier (FRA-FEN; 1900-1924)

24,Juan Esteban Curuchet (ARG-CYC; 1984-2008)

24,Nick Skelton (GBR-EQU; 1988-2012)

20,Paulin Lemaire (FRA-GYM; 1900-1920)

20,Raymond Bru (BEL-FEN; 1928-1948)

20,Édouard Yves (BEL-FEN; 1928-1948)

20,Norman Cohn-Armitage (USA-FEN; 1928-1948)

20,Herman Whiton (USA-SAI; 1928-1948)

20,Marcel Stern (SUI-SAI; 1948-1968)

20,Hugo Simon (AUT-EQU; 1972-1992)

20,Michael Matz (USA-EQU; 1976-1996)

20,Peter Eriksson (SWE-EQU; 1984-2004)

20,Peter Charles (GBR-EQU; 1992-2012)

20,Carl Hester (GBR-EQU; 1992-2012)


Ian Millar

The above are the 17 of the 20 times that it has taken an athlete 20 or more years to win their first Olympic medal. Two of the others are given in the lists: Max Houben (BEL-ATH/BOB; 1920-1948), with 28 years, and Ann Jensen-van Olst (DEN-EQU; 1988-2008), with 20 years. Houben actually competed in athletics in 1920 and competed at the Winter Olympics in bobsledding from 1928-48, so his Winter record is actually only 20 years, but it was 28 years from his first Olympic participation to his first Olympic medal, placing him third all-time, after Millar and Noverraz above. The third, not in any list, is Norwegian Yngvar Bryn, who won a silver medal in 1920 pairs figure skating. Although technically at the Summer Olympics, we count it with the Winter sports, and Bryn made his only other Olympic appearance in 1900 in athletics, 20 years before he won his figure skating medal.

Also notable on the above list is Michael Matz, who went 20 years before winning an Olympic medal in equestrian. Matz later became well-known for two non-Olympic events. In July 1989 he was aboard United Airlines flight 232 when it crashed and burned in Sioux City, Iowa. Matz heroically led three young children to safety from the plane, and then later returned to the burning wreckage to rescue an 11-month-old child. In 1998 Matz began training thoroughbred racehorses, among which was Barbaro, who won the 2006 Kentucky Derby, trained by Matz. In the Preakness, in which Barbaro was a heavy favorite, he broke down shortly after leaving the starting gate. After months of difficult surgeries and attempts to save his shattered right hind leg, the horse was put down in January 2007.


Longest Time – Olympic Début to Medal, Women, Summer


Range,Name (NOC-Sport; Début Year-Year of Medal)

20,Anne Jensen-van Olst (DEN-EQU; 1988-2008)

16,Cindy Neale-Ishoy (CAN-EQU; 1972-1988)

16,Nonka Matova (BUL-SHO; 1976-1992)

16,Jackie Silva (BRA-BVO; 1980-1996)

16,Ildikó Mincza-Nébald (HUN-FEN; 1992-2008)

16,Homare Sawa (JPN-FTB; 1996-2012)

12,37 athletes tied with 12.



Jackie Silva won her Olympic medal, a gold, in 1996 beach volleyball, but she had made her Olympic début as an indoor volleyball player in 1980. Of note above, is the 16-year gap from début to medal for Japanese footballer Homare Sawa, a huge amount of time in such a physically demanding sport.


Longest Time – Olympic Début to Medal, Men, Winter


Range,Name (NOC-Sport; Début Year-Year of Medal)

20,Max Houben (BEL-BOB; 1928-1948)

18,Jari Kurri (FIN-ICH; 1980-1998)

18,Chris Chelios (USA-ICH; 1984-2002)

16,Todd Lodwick (USA-NCO; 1994-2010)

14,Brian Leetch (USA-ICH; 1988-2002)

14,Mike Richter (USA-ICH; 1988-2002)

14,Brian Shimer (USA-BOB; 1988-2002)

14,Scott Young (USA-ICH; 1988-2002)

14,Albert Demchenko (RUS-LUG; 1992-2006)

14,Oswald Haselrieder (ITA-LUG; 1992-2006)

14,Gerhard Plankensteiner (ITA-LUG; 1992-2006)



Max Houben’s record is actually longer than 20 years. He made his Olympic début in 1920 in athletics, running the 200 metres and 4×100 relay at Antwerp. So it was actually 28 years from his Olympic début to his first Olympic medal, but that crossed over from Summer to Winter Games.

A similar situation exists for Norwegian Yngvar Bryn, who won a silver medal in 1920 pairs figure skating, which technically took place at the Summer Olympics, although we count that as with the Winter sports. Bryn made his first Olympic appearance in 1900 in athletics, running the 200 and 400 metres, so it was 20 years from his first Olympic appearance to his first medal, but again mixing Summer and Winter (in a sense).

Also of note in the above lists are the number of ice hockey players. Though a very physically demanding sport, this was caused by the introduction in 1998 of NHL players to the Olympics, which allowed several NHL veterans to return to the Olympics many years after their débuts.


Longest Time – Olympic Début to Medal, Women, Winter


Range,Name (NOC-Sport; Début Year-Year of Medal)

16,Maki Tabata (JPN-SSK; 1994-2010)

16,Alla Tsuper (BLR-FRS; 1998-2014)

12,Sylvie Daigle (CAN-STK; 1980-1992)

12,Blanca Fernández Ochoa (ESP-ASK; 1980-1992)

12,Svetlana Boyarkina-Zhurova (RUS-SSK; 1994-2006)

12,Tatyana Navka (RUS-FSK; 1994-2006)

12,Kristina Šmigun-Vähi (EST-CCS; 1994-2006)

12,Sabina Valbusa (ITA-CCS; 1994-2006)

12,Maëlle Ricker (CAN-SNB; 1998-2010)

12,Teja Gregorin (SLO-BIA; 2002-2014)

12,Tomoka Takeuchi (JPN-SNB; 2002-2014)

12,Christina Bertrup (SWE-CUR; 2002-2014)


Maki Tabata


Sylvie Daigle competed at five Olympics, winning a gold medal in short-track speed skating in 1992, but she competed at her first two Olympics – 1980-84 – in long-track speed skating.


Longest Time – Olympic Début to Gold Medal, Men, Summer


Range,Name (NOC-Sport; Début Year-Year of Gold)

24,Henri Jobier (FRA-FEN; 1900-1924)

24,Juan Esteban Curuchet (ARG-CYC; 1984-2008)

24,Nick Skelton (GBR-EQU; 1988-2012)

24,Sergey Martynov (BLR-SHO; 1988-2012)

20,Anders Peter Nielsen (DEN-SHO; 1900-1920)

20,Heikki Savolainen (FIN-GYM; 1928-1948)

20,Herman Whiton (USA-SAI; 1928-1948)

20,Gustaf Adolf Boltenstern Jr. (SWE-EQU; 1932-1952)

20,Peter Charles (GBR-EQU; 1992-2012)

20,Carl Hester (GBR-EQU; 1992-2012)

20,Fredrik Lööf (SWE-SAI; 1992-2012)



These 11 athletes are the only ones to take 20 or more years to win an Olympic gold medal – never happened by a woman or at the Winter Olympics. Most of the sports on this list are sailing, shooting, equestrian, or fencing, but especially noteworthy is Juan Esteban Curuchet, who won a gold medal in the 2008 Madison cycling event, 24 years after his Olympic career began.

Nick Skelton took 24 years to win his gold medal, but it could have been longer. He was named to the 1980 British Olympic team, but that team did not compete in Moscow, because of the boycott. Thus it was 32 years from being named to his first Olympic team to his gold medal.

Nick Skelton


Longest Time – Olympic Début to Gold Medal, Women, Summer


Range,Name (NOC-Sport; Début Year-Year of Gold)

16,Lia Manoliu (ROU-ATH; 1952-1968)

16,Jackie Silva (BRA-BVO; 1980-1996)

16,Josefa Idem-Guerrini (ITA-CAN; 1984-2000)

16,Eldece Clarke-Lewis (BAH-ATH; 1984-2000)

16,Pauline Davis-Thompson (BAH-ATH; 1984-2000)

16,Trine Solberg-Hattestad (NOR-ATH; 1984-2000)

16,Rumyana Dzhadzharova-Neykova (BUL-ROW; 1992-2008)

16,Fofão (BRA-VOL; 1992-2008)

12,24 athletes tied with 12.



Jackie Silva competed at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics in indoor volleyball, returning to the Olympics in 1996 when beach volleyball was added to the Olympic Program, and winning her first Olympic medal, a gold alongside Sandra.


Longest Time – Olympic Début to Gold Medal, Men, Winter


Range,Name (NOC-Sport; Début Year-Year of Gold)

16,Aleksandr Zubkov (RUS-BOB; 1998-2014)

14,Maurilio De Zolt (ITA-CCS; 1980-1994)

14,Tomas Jonsson (SWE-ICH; 1980-1994)

14,Mats Näslund (SWE-ICH; 1980-1994)

14,Giorgio Vanzetta (ITA-CCS; 1980-1994)

14,Vladimír Růžička (CZE-ICH; 1984-1998)

14,Fulvio Valbusa (ITA-CCS; 1992-2006)

12,12 athletes tied with 12.



Aleksandr Zubkov set this record at Sochi only a few months ago, and was the inspiration for this statistical research. As noted above several ice hockey players are on this list because of NHL veterans returning to the Olympics years after their Olympic débuts.


Longest Time – Olympic Début to Gold Medal, Women, Winter


Range,Name (NOC-Sport; Début Year-Year of Gold)

16,Alla Tsuper (BLR-FRS; 1998-2014)

14,Kateřina Neumannová (CZE-CCS; 1992-2006)

12,Sylvie Daigle (CAN-STK; 1980-1992)

12,Svetlana Boyarkina-Zhurova (RUS-SSK; 1994-2006)

12,Tatyana Navka (RUS-FSK; 1994-2006)

12,Kristina Šmigun-Vähi (EST-CCS; 1994-2006)

12,Maëlle Ricker (CAN-SNB; 1998-2010)

12,Shen Xue (CHN-FSK; 1998-2010)

12,Tina Maze (SLO-ASK; 2002-2014)

10,Manuela Di Centa (ITA-CCS; 1984-1994)

10,Emese Nemeth-Hunyady (AUT-SSK; 1984-1994)

10,Sylke Otto (GER-LUG; 1992-2002)

10,Gabriella Paruzzi (ITA-CCS; 1992-2002)

10,Kari Traa (NOR-FRS; 1992-2002)


Alla Tsuper


Two athletes on the above lists competed in two Olympic sports, and one of them competed both at the Winter and Summer Olympics. Kateřina Neumannová was a cross-country skiier at the 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2006 Winter Olympics, winning her first medal in 1998 and her first gold medal in 2006. She also competed as a cyclist at the 1996 Summer Olympics. As noted above, Sylvie Daigle competed at 5 Olympics, competing in long-track speed skating in 1980 and 1984, and short-track in 1988, 1992, and 1994.

In addition, we should mention Clara Hughes, another Canadian, and a cyclist-speed skater. Hughes made her first Olympic appearance in 1996 in cycling, winning two bronze medals in the road race and individual time trial. She also competed in cycling in 2000 and 2012, but won no medals. She competed at the Winter Olympics in speed skating (long-track) in 2002, 2006, and 2010, winning her first gold medal in 2006 in the 5,000 metres, fully 10 years after her Olympic début, but that crossed from Summer to Winter Olympics.

Hughes is one of only 5 Olympians to have won medals in both the Winter and Summer Olympics, joining Eddie Eagan (USA-BOB/BOX), Jacob Tullin Thams (NOR-SAI/SKJ), Christa Luding-Rothenburger (GDR-CYC/SSK), and Lauryn Williams (USA-ATH/BOB). Williams was added to this list in Sochi with her bobsledding silver medal, after a gold medal at London in 2012 in the 4×100 relay.

Attila Petschauer

Olympic fencer, Gold Medalist,Hungarian Jew, Nazi concentration camp victim

Born     14 December 1904; Budapest (HUN)

Died     20 January 1943; Zavidovo, Tver (RUS)


Year-Games, Sport,Event,Finish,Medal

1928-Summer,Fencing,Sabre Individual, 2,Silver

,,Sabre Team,1,Gold

1932-Summer,Fencing,Sabre Individual, 5

,,Sabre Team,1,Gold



Attila Petschauer competed at the 1928 and 1932 Olympics, winning team sabre gold both years and an individual sabre silver in 1928. At the European Championships, Petschauer won silver medals individually in 1925 and 1929, and bronze medals in 1923, 1927, and 1930. He also helped Hungary win team sabre European titles in 1930-31.
In World War II most Hungarian Jews were deported to concentration camps, but Petschauer’s status as an elite sportsman exempted him initially. But in 1943 he was deported to the Davidovka concentration camp in the Ukraine. During a prisoner line-up Petschauer was called out by the commanding officer of the camp, Lt. Col. Kálmán Cseh von Szent-Katolna, who had competed in equestrian for Hungary at the 1928 Olympics. It was mid-winter and bitter cold, but the guards forced Petschauer to undress and climb a tree, and while up there, they sprayed him with freezing water. He died shortly thereafter. Petschauer’s story was told in the 1999 film “Sunshine,” starring Ralph Fiennes.

Pregnant Olympians

Serena Williams announced yesterday (19 April 2017) that she was pregnant and was likely pregnant during her dominant Australian Open victory in January. Amazing. Below is an updated version of our “Pregnant Olympians” post from 2014.


Addendum for 21 April 2017 – Olympic Channel today posted a video on pregnant Olympians, starting with Fanny Blankers-Koen. We used to have Blankers-Koen in this list, based on a rumor we had heard, but deleted her and think the Olympic Channel has it wrong in this case. Per Jeroen Heijmans, our Dutch member of the OlyMADMen, “Fanny had two children, Jan Jr. (ca. 1941) and Fanny Jr. (ca. 1946).” So we’re fairly certain she was not pregnant at the 1948 Olympics, unless she lost the child.


Have any Olympians ever competed while pregnant? Yes, as you would suspect. It has happened 18 times that we know of, although with this sort of topic, its difficult to know with precision. Witness to that fact is that Kerri Walsh did not know she was pregnant in 2012 until after the Olympics ended. The following list details the 18 times we know it has occurred.

Note that in 2012 at London, Malaysian shooter Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi competed while 34 weeks pregnant – making her the “most pregnant Olympian” of all-time.



Lisa Brown-Miller,USA,ICH,1998,Unknowingly pregnant during the 1998 Winter Olympics with her first child Alex.

Anky van Grunsven,NED,EQU,1988-2012,5 months pregnant when she won a gold medal in 2004.

DeAnne Hemmens,USA,CAN,1996,2 months pregnant in 1996.

Anna-Maria Johansson,SWE,HAN,2012,3 months pregnant in 2012.

Magda Julin,SWE,FSK,1920,3 months pregnant in 1920.

Amelie Kober,GER,SNB,2006-2014,2 months pregnant in 2010.

Kateřina Kůrková-Emmons,CZE,SHO,2004-2012,1 month pregnant in 2008.

Kristie Moore,CAN,CUR,2010,5 months pregnant in 2010.

Mara Navarria,ITA,FEN,2012,Discovered after London Olympics that she was in early pregnancy during the Games.

Cornelia Pfohl,GER,ARC,1992-2004,In early pregnancy (daughter Mara) when she won a bronze medal in 2000 and 7 months pregnant in 2004. Daughter Roselinda born only 57 days after her last Olympic event.

Kim Rhode,USA,SHO,1996-2016,Discovered weeks after London Olympics that she was in early pregnancy.

Diana Sartor,GER,SKE,2002-06,9 weeks pregnant in 2006.

Anita Spring,AUS,BVO,1996,4 weeks pregnant in 1996.

Juno Stover-Irwin,USA,DIV,1948-60,3½ months pregnant when she won a bronze medal in 1952.

Kerstin Szymkowiak,GER,SKE,2010,2 months pregnant when she won a silver medal in 2010.

Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi,MAS,SHO,2012,34 weeks pregnant in 2012.

Martina Valcepina,ITA,STK,2014,1 month pregnant with twins during the Sochi Olympics.

Kerri Walsh,USA,BVO/VOL,2000-2012,1 month pregnant in 2012 (not known until after the Olympics).



See also http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/friv/lists.cgi

Note: Updated mid-June 2014 after receiving information from Gazzetta dello Sport reporter Andrea Buongiovanni about the pregnancies of Navarria and Valcepina.

Winter Olympic Costs

OK, Sochi ended a couple months ago, and the pricetag we keep hearing is $51 billion (US) for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Now keep in mind that it is very difficult to sort out what part of that is for operating costs, and what is for infrastructure costs. In the case of Sochi, Russia basically built two towns from scratch – Adler and Krasnaya Polyana – along with the road between the two. But still, $51 billion is what everyone sees.

So how expensive was this when one looks at all the Olympic Games? Not easy to compare them over the years, because so many things change. But let’s try. First of all, we’ll use the standard numbers that are out there, often from the Official Results, for the nominal contemporary costs in US dollars. We’ll then correct these for inflation against the US dollar. Economists tell us this is not a perfect correction, and that it is better to use something called purchasing power parity (PPP), but those numbers for the inflated rates of PPP in each nation are not available going back to 1924 (or 1896 for the summer). So we’ll use historical inflation against the dollar, using the 2000 US dollar as the benchmark figure.

Now the Games also get bigger over the years so we should look at how much they cost relative to the size of the Games, using 2000 US dollars. The best numbers to use to look at the size of an Olympics are the number of athletes and the number of sports. The reason for this is obvious in terms of the numbers of athletes – more means larger Olympic Village(s), more means more security (in this era), and more means more transport issues getting those athletes around all the venues. Sports are also important because when you add a new sport, or discipline by the IOC definitions, you often need to add a new venue or stadium to host the sport, which is not inexpensive.

So here are the absolute numbers and the numbers corrected against inflation.


Year,Cost,Value (2000$),ConstantCost
























Above, cost is listed in millions of US$ while constant cost is listed in thousands of US$.

So even corrected against inflation, Sochi is by far the most expensive Winter Olympics ever. In fact, as we’ll show later, it was more expensive, in constant dollars, than all previous Winter Olympics.

What about if we compare using constant dollars against number of athletes? And we’ll also use constant dollars against a new figure – number of athletes x number of sports – to take into effect both factors that tend to increase the size of cost of Olympics.


























CC=constant costs (thousand US$); CC/A=constant costs/athlete; CC/A-S=constant costs/athlete-sport.

Once again, Sochi was more expensive in terms of constant cost per athlete and constant cost per athlete-sport than all previous Winter Olympics combined. It is interesting that 3 other Winter Olympics were also very expensive relatively speaking – 1968 Grenoble, 1972 Sapporo, and 1998 Nagano. Grenoble, Sapporo and Nagano were similar to Sochi in terms of huge amounts of infrastructural costs to host those Winter Olympics.

This can be understood better if you compare each Winter Olympics to the combined costs of all previous Winter Olympics. Here are those numbers.


























CAPCC=compare all previous constant costs; CAPCC/A-S=compare all previous constant costs/athlete-sport.

This may not seem obvious so let’s look at it. In 1928, St. Moritz was 1.017 more expensive than all previous Winter Olympics, which was only 1924 Chamonix, in terms of constant costs. But it was actually cheaper than 1924 in terms constant costs/athlete-sport, at only 0.724 times the Chamonix CC/A-S.

For Lake Placid in 1932, it was 3.525 times more expensive than Chamonix (1924) and St. Moritz (1928) in terms of constant costs, and 6.141 times more expensive in terms of constant costs/athlete-sport. When a Winter Olympics is more expensive on both parameters, I have used the note “>previous”.

It turns out that 6 times a Winter Olympics has been more expensive on both parameters or “>previous”. This occurred at the following Winter Olympics:










So these are the 6 spendthrift Winter Olympic hosts. Looking at the causes, 1932 Lake Placid was expensive because they had to build both a bobsled run and ski jumps, and because Chamonix and St. Moritz were so inexpensive. Squaw Valley in 1960 was expensive because, like Sochi with Adler and Krasnaya Polyana, that resort was built almost from scratch – although they did skip building a bob run.

Sapporo in 1972, Nagano in 1998, and Sochi in 2014 were all expensive because of huge infrastructural costs, but the interesting thing here is that Sochi does not look so bad, comparing at about the same rate of Games inflation as 1972 and 1998.

Grenoble in 1968 was really an industrial city, despite its location in the Alps, and most of the sports venues and resort had to be specially built for the Games, including a stadium that was used only for the Opening Ceremony. The citizens in the area would be paying for the costs through 1995, and Grenoble in 1968 should be considered the most expensive Winter Olympics ever, relative to previous Winter Olympics. Compared to Grenoble in 1968, Sochi looks positively a bargain.

Olympic Bio of the Day – Yvonne de Ligne

The Olympic skater convicted of murdering her husband.

See also http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/de/yvonne-de-ligne-1.html

Born 19 September 1907 in Bruxelles (Brussels) (BEL)
Died c.1952

1932,Figure Skating,Ladies, 6th
1936,Figure skating,Ladies, 18th
Yvonne De Ligne achieved her best result in her first major international competition, debuting with a 6th place at the 1929 World Championships. She would match that performance in 1932, placing also sixth at the 1932 Olympics. In the European Championships, her best result was a 5th place, in 1933. De Ligne was married to speed skating Olympian Charles de Ligne, but their marriage was not a happy one. During World War II, she fell in love with a Dutch figure skater, Jacob Hartog, who was living in Antwerpen at the time. Catching his wife and her lover in their home, Charles de Ligne kicked out Hartog. Yvonne de Ligne was unhappy with this, and sought revenge. In November 1944, she led her husband to their countryside hideout. Armand Michiels, convinced Charles was a collaborator, was also “invited”, and killed him with a German weapon, to make it look like he was shot by the Gestapo. But the plot was discovered, and both Michiels (3 years) and De Ligne (15 years) were sentenced to prison terms. Yvonne de Ligne was released after serving six years, as she was suffering from tuberculosis, and died very shortly thereafter.

The NBC – IOC Television Deal

It was announced on Wednesday that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and NBC, the United States television network that has televised the Summer Olympics since 1988, have signed an agreement extending NBC’s hegemony over the Summer Olympics in the United States through 2032. The fee was $7.65 billion (US) – that’s billion, which sounds like a huge amount of Franklins – for the rights to the Summer and Winter Games from 2022-2032. We’ll disregard the $100,000,000 signing bonus, presumably for the IOC signing their name nicely, which technically makes it $7.75 billion. How does this compare to previous Olympic television rights in the United States and how have they increased over time?

The Olympic Games have been televised in the United States since 1960. In 1960 CBS Television paid Rome $394,940 for the rights fee, and CBS also paid Squaw Valley $50,000 for the rights fee. Looks like those fees have really skyrocketed over the years, and it continues to skyrocket. As we always do, let’s look at the numbers.

Below are all the Summer Olympics since 1960, with the host city, the US network televising them, and the rights fee. In the far right column, we have calculated the change in rights fees (ΔRF) since 1960. As you can see the US television rights for the Summer Olympics have gone up almost 400000% since 1960. Now we made a few assumptions for 2024-2032. It is known that the rights for 2022/2024, 2026/2028, and 2030/2032 are divvied up as $2.50B, $2.55B, and $2.60B. It isn’t yet known how much of that is allocated to the Summer Olympics and how much to the Winter Olympics. We arbitrarily allocated 60% of each period to the Summer Olympics and 40% to the Winter Olympics, which is approximately the historical average.


Year,Host,Network,Rights Fee,ΔRF



1968,Mexico City,ABC,$4500000,1139%




1984,Los Angeles,ABC,$225600000,57123%








2016,Rio de Janeiro,NBC,$1226000000,310427%






This is what the chart of those increases looks like, showing the huge upward trend although it does seem to taper off a bit at the right-hand side of the chart.


Here are the corresponding numbers for the US television rights for the Winter Olympics. The original fee of $50,000 for Squaw Valley will increase to $1,040,000,000 for the 2030 Winter Olympics, wherever they may be held. This is an absolute increase even greater than for the Summer Olympics, checking in at just over a 2000000% (that’s 2 million percent) increase, mainly due to the pittance paid for the 1960 rights.


Year,Host,Network,Rights Fee,ΔRF

1960,Squaw Valley,CBS,$50000,—





1980,Lake Placid,ABC,$15500000,31000%






2002,Salt Lake City,NBC,$545000000,1090000%









Here’s what the chart of the Winter Olympics rights increases look like since 1960, again showing some flattening at the right-hand side, near 2022-2030.


So it looks like the US television networks, and since 1988, that pretty much means NBC, are paying out the wazoo for the Olympics, and possibly severely overpaying. But are they really? NBC announced very good ratings for the recent Sochi Olympics and announced that they were pleased with their return on investment (ROI).

How about if we look at the numbers for rights fees corrected against inflation? In 1960, a hamburger at McDonald’s, an Olympic sponsor since 1997, cost 25¢, while today the same hamburger costs you around $1.00. So based on that it appears that the US dollar has inflated about 4 times since 1960. But that only reflects the cost of a McDonald’s hamburger. The actual historical figures in the United States have the US dollar inflated about 8 times since 1960.

Now we have to make some assumptions to analyze this thru 2032, since we don’t know what inflation will be from 2014-2032. In our analysis below, we used an annual inflation rate of 2.81% in the US for 2014-2032, because that has been the annual inflation rate from 1988-2013, or the period when NBC really became the US Olympic Network.

So here is what the numbers look like, corrected against inflation. In the following we have used the benchmark as the value of the US dollar in 2000, a nice benchmark year as the end of the millennium.





1968,Mexico City,ABC,$25168221,990%,274.1%




1984,Los Angeles,ABC,$384700667,15134%,187.0%








2016,Rio de Janeiro,NBC,$820155950,32264%,94.6%






RRF = relative rights fee, ΔARRF = change in absolute relative rights fees (since 1960), ΔRRF = change in relative rights fees Olympics-to-Olympics

You can see that corrected against inflation, the rise in US television rights fees is not so dramatic, going up not 400K% since 1960, but about 26K%. Still a huge increase, but looking at it more closely, from 2000-2032 there will be very little change in the relative rights fees NBC is paying, corrected for inflation. In fact, from 2012-2032 the relative rights fees paid to the IOC will mostly decrease, except for a small upward blip for Tokyo in 2020. Here is what the chart looks like, which shows the downward trend starting after London (14 below).


Here are the similar figures for the Winter Olympics, again corrected against inflation from 1960-2030, using the same assumption about rates 2014-2030, and using the 2000 US dollar as the benchmark. Again note that the fees do not go up 2 million percent, but about 145000% – still a huge increase. But now starting in 2002, from Salt Lake City onward, there is not much change in relative US television rights fees. Again, after Vancouver in 2010 the trend is mostly downward, except for another small upward blip for Pyeongchang in 2018.



1960,Squaw Valley,CBS,$321820,—,—





1980,Lake Placid,ABC,$37517060,11658%,111.9%






2002,Salt Lake City,NBC,$511728840,159011%,131.3%









Here is the chart for the relative Winter Olympics rights fees, demonstrating the downward trend in the last few years of the NBC contracts. This shows that the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and the 2006 Winter Games in Torino (12/13 below) rights fees will be worth more than the 2030 Winter Olympics, and about the same as the 2026 Winter Olympics, in 2000 US dollars.


So it looked like a huge number – $7.65 billion – and it is, of course, in absolute dollars. But looking at it more carefully, correcting the time course corrections that will certainly occur in the US dollar, NBC may have gotten a bargain.

However, the IOC also guaranteed itself money thru 2032, ensuring a major source of its income, and it did so at rates approximately keeping pace with expected inflation. So this could certainly be a win-win deal for both parties.

Olympic Bio of the Day – Ralph Boston

Happy 75th birthday to Ralph Boston

See also http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/bo/ralph-boston-1.html

Born 9 May 1939 in Laurel, Mississippi (USA)

1960,Athletics,Long Jump, Gold
1964,Athletics,Long Jump, Silver
1968,Athletics,Long Jump, Bronze

Until a few weeks before the 1960 Olympics, Ralph Boston seemed no more than an average long jumper. But in August he beat Jesse Owens’ 25-year-old world record with a mark of 26-11¼ (8.21) and went on to take the gold medal. In 1961 he twice improved the record, becoming the first man to jump 27 feet (8.23), but then lost the record to Igor Ter-Ovanesyan of the Soviet Union in 1962. Boston equalled that mark in August 1964, broke it the following month, and in May 1965, set his last world record with 27-5 (8.35). Boston won the AAU outdoor long jump for six successive seasons (1961-1966), the AAU indoor in 1961, and the Pan American Games in 1963 and 1967. Competing for Tennessee State, he won the NCAA outdoor title in 1960. Boston was also a gifted performer in other events. In 1961 he was undefeated in the high hurdles and won the AAU indoor in 1965. He placed fourth in the 1963 Pan American Games high jump, and in that year headed the U.S. lists in the triple jump. Ralph Boston retired after the 1968 Olympics. He was later an administrator at the University of Tennessee.

Personal Bests: 100y – 9.6 (1964); 220y – 22.0 (1964); 120yH – 13.7 (1961); HJ – 6-8½ (2.04) (1962); PV – 13-8 (4.16) (1960); LJ – 27-5 (8.35) (1965); TJ – 52-1½ (15.89) (1964); JT – 169-0 (51.51) (1959).

Olympic Bio of the Day – Parry O’Brien

On the 60th anniversary of the 1st 60-foot shot put.

See also http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/ob/parry-obrien-1.html

Born 28 January 1932 in Santa Monica, California (USA)
Died 21 April 2007 in Santa Clarita, California (USA)

1952,Athletics,Shot put, Gold
1956,Athletics,Shot put, Gold
1960,Athletics,Shot put, Silver
1964,Athletics,Shot put, 4th

Although his records have now been surpassed, Parry O’Brien is, by the standards of his contemporaries, the greatest shotputter of all time. Indoors and outdoors he won a total of 17 AAU titles and between July 1952 and June 1956 he ran up a winning streak of 116 consecutive victories. He broke the world record 17 times, although only 10 of these were ratified, and he was the first man to beat the 18-meter, 60-foot, and 19-meter barriers. O’Brien set his last world record in 1959, with 63-4 (19.30), but he continued to improve and set a career best of 64-7¼ (19.69) in 1966, two years after his final Olympic appearance in Tokyo, where he placed fourth. O’Brien was Pan American Games champion in 1955 and 1959 and, while at Southern Cal, he won the NCAA title in 1952 and 1953. He also added the 1955 AAU discus championship. In discus throw he also won two medal at the Pan American Games – silver in 1955 and bronze in 1959. Apart from his multiple victories and records, Parry O’Brien made a significant contribution to the sport by pioneering a new style which was copied by many of those who followed him as world record holders. He later worked in the banking and real estate business in Southern California.

Personal Bests: SP – 64-7¼ (19.69) (1966); DT – 196-10 (59.99) (1965).

Olympic Bio of the Day – George Larner

The naked policeman who was the first Olympic walking champion.

Born 7 March 1875 in Langley, Slough (GBR)
Died 4 March 1949 in Brighton, Brighton and Hove (GBR)

1908, Athletic, 3500m walk,Gold
,,10 mile walk,Gold


George Larner did not take up competitive walking until 1903 when he was 28-years old. In 1904, when still little more than a novice, he won both AAA titles, and he repeated the double the following year. Having won four AAA titles and set nine world records, Larner then decided to retire as he found that training interfered with his duties as a Brighton policeman. Fortunately, the Chief Constable of Brighton was persuaded to give Larner time off from work to train for the 1908 Olympic Games, and after a two-year absence, Larner reappeared on the track.

Although he had an exceptionally long stride, Larner was generally rated as a very fair stylist and it came as no surprise when he was disqualified in his first comeback race, the AAA 7 mile Championship in April 1908. He soon redeemed himself by winning the AAA 2 mile title in July and then won both the Olympic walking titles later than month.

After the Games, Larner retired again from race walking but he enjoyed some modest successes as a cross-country runner with Brighton & County Harriers and Highgate Harriers. In 1911 he made another comeback and won the AAA 7 miles title, but he did not stay in training for the 1912 Olympics. After he finally tired, George Larner became a respected race walking judge and when he died, at the age of 73, many of his British records were still intact.

He published a book, simply titled “Walking”, in which he gave the following advice – “When time permits, all clothing should be removed for a run round a secluded garden, especially it if be raining at the time”.

Personal Bests: Mile Walk – 6:26.0 (1904); 2 miles Walk – 13:11.4 (1904); 3 miles Walk – 20:25.8 (1905); 10kmW – 44:58.4e (1905); 7 miles Walk – 50:50.8 (1905); 10 miles Walk – 1-15:57.4 (1908); Hour Walk – 13,275 metres (8 miles, 438 yards) (1905).