Evelyn Furtsch

Evelyn Furtsch, gold medalist in the 4×100 metre relay with the United States team at the 1932 Olympics, died in her sleep in Santa Ana, California on 5 March 2015. She was 100-years-old, only a few weeks short of her 101st birthday (17 April). In our post (by Paul Tchir) a few days ago on oldest living Olympians, Furtsch was described as the oldest living gold medalist in track & field athletics, while in fact she had passed away a few weeks before we wrote that. The news has only just reached us.

There are still six remaining Olympic centenarians (see https://olympstats.com/2015/03/23/oldest-living-olympians-part-2/). The oldest living track & field Olympian remains Simone Schaller (USA-1932/1936), born 22 August 1912, and now over 102-years-old.

The oldest living female track & field Olympic gold medalist now becomes Dana Zátopková, Czech javelin thrower who won the 1952 Olympic title, who will turn 93-years-old on 19 September of this year, and is three days older than Esther Brand, who won the high jupm that year in Helsinki. The oldest living track & field gold medalist, however, is Cliff Bourland, who won gold in the 4×400 relay at the 1948 Olympics. Bourland was born 1 January 1921, and is now over 94-years-old. We believe the oldest living female gold medalist in any sport  is Finnish cross-country skiier Lydia Wideman, who won gold in the 10 km race at the 1952 Oslo Winter Olympics, and was born on 17 May 1920.

Rest in peace to Evelyn Furtsch, a pioneer in women’s sports in the United States, and our sympathies to her family.

Evelyn Furtsch

Oldest Living Olympians – Part 2

From our group of OlyMADMen, the following has been produced by Paul Tchir, aka Canadian Paul, our resident expert on oldest living Olympians.


The death at the age of 106 of Swiss artist Hans Erni, believed to be the oldest living former Olympian, raises the issue of who has succeeded him in this title. Erni was the second-longest-lived Olympian of all time, behind his predecessor to the title American Walter Walsh, as well of one of very few remaining individuals who competed in the Olympic Art Competitions, which were last held in 1948. Although there were are a handful of Olympians older than Erni whose death has not been confirmed, it seems unlikely that someone would have reached 106 years of age in the era of the internet and escaped any notice whatsoever.

Poster for a documentary of the life of Hans Erni
Poster for a documentary of the life of Hans Erni

Erni was born in 1909 and was the last known living Olympian to have been born that year. His longevity meant that he outlived the final known survivors from 1910 (Italian Attilio Pavesi, a double Olympic champion from the 1932 cycling tournament, who died August 2, 2011) and 1911 (Chilean Juan Reccius, a competitor in the 1936 triple jump, who died June 29, 2012), although Mien Klaver, an alternate on the Dutch women’s 4×100 metre relay team, turned 104 on February 26 of this year. Olympians born in 1912, however, have fared far better, with four of the five Olympians who reached their centenary in 2012 still with us as of this posting (the fifth, French skiing legend and 1936 Olympic bronze medalist Émile Allais died several months after his 100th birthday). They are:

Guo Jie of China, who took part in the men’s discus throw at the 1936 Summer Olympics. Guo, born January 16, 1912 in Dalian, is his nation’s longest-lived competitor, the last member of its delegation to the 1936 Games, and was still physically active at his 102nd birthday. To the best of our knowledge, he now takes the title of the oldest living Olympic competitor.

Swedish diver Ingeborg Sjöqvist, born April 19, 1912, who took part in the 1932 and 1936 Summer Olympics and was runner-up in platform diving at the 1931 and 1934 European Championships.

American athlete Simone Schaller, born August 22, 1912, who participated in the 80 m hurdles tournament in 1932 and 1936 and is the longest-lived American female Olympian.

Baron Eduard von Falz-Fein, born September 14, 1912, who represented Liechtenstein in bobsled at the 1936 Winter Olympics and is the longest-lived Winter Olympian.

Additionally, there are three other known living Olympic centenarians:

Sándor Tarics, born September 23, 1913, who was a member of Hungary’s gold medal-winning water polo team in 1936 and is confirmed as the oldest living Olympic champion and the second- longest-lived Olympic champion, behind American James Stillman Rockefeller, who died in August 2004 at the age of 102 years, 63 days.

Evelyn Furtsch, born April 17, 1914, who earned a gold medal with the United States’ 4x100m relay team in 1932 and is the longest-lived Olympic track and field gold medalist.

Evelyn Furtsch

American John Lysak (born August 16, 1914), who competed in the Men’s Folding Kayak, 10 km canoeing event at the 1936 Summer Games.

Outside of centenarians, Carla Marangoni (born November 13, 1915) is notable as the last known survivor of the 1928 Summer Olympics: she won a silver medal for Italy in the team gymnastics competition that year. Moreover, it is also possible to produce a definitive list of the six oldest Olympic champions:

Sándor Tarics, born September 23, 1913, M HUN WAP 1936

Evelyn Furtsch, born April 17, 1914, F USA ATH 1932

Durward Knowles, born November 2, 1917, M BAH SAI 1964 (also bronze in 1956 and competed in 1948, 1952, 1960, 1968, 1972, and 1988)

Martin Lundström, born May 30, 1918, M SWE CCS 1948 (twice, also bronze in 1952)

Adolph Kiefer, born June 27, 1918, M USA SWI 1936

Jack Günthard, born January 8, 1920, M SUI GYM 1952 (also silver)

Betty Brey



Full Name,Elizabeth Evadna “Betty” Brey (Mullen-)

Used Name,Betty Brey

Born,23 November 1931 – Weissport; Pennsylvania (USA)

Died,21 March 2015 – Orlando; Florida (USA)

Vitals (1956),165 cm / 59 kg

Affiliations,Walter Reed Swim Club; Washington




1956 Summer ,4×100 free relay,2 ,




1951,200 freestyle,2,Silver

1951,4×100 free relay,1,Gold

1955,100 butterfly,2,Silver

1955,4×100 medley relay,1,Gold


Betty Brey won two gold medals at the Pan-American Games, winning with the 4×100 freestyle relay in 1951 and the medley relay in 1955. She also won individual silvers in the 200 freestyle in 1951 and the 100 butterfly in 1955. Brey won three national titles, swimming with the winning Walter Reed Swim Club medley relay at the 1956 AAU Indoors and Outdoors, and winning the 100 yard butterfly at the 1955 AAU Indoors, where she set a short course world record. She competed as Betty Mullen until 1956. At the 1956 Olympics she swam in the heats of the 4×100 freestyle relay, and by the rules in force at that time, she did not receive a medal.

Brey attended Purdue University where she was a majorette with the Purdue Marching Band, She was also an accomplished musician and later coached swimming at George Washington University. Brey is a member of the Indiana Swimming Hall of Fame. Her son, Mike Brey, became a well-known college basketball coach in the United States, serving as an assistant coach at Duke from 1987-1995, as head coach of the University of Delaware from 1995-2000 and as head coach at Notre Dame beginning in 2000. His mother, Olympian Betty Mullen Brey, died the morning that he coached his Notre Dame team to a victory against Butler in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. She must be smiling down today, cheering on the Irish.

Marianne Vos wants 3 golds in 3 cycling disciplines

Dutch cyclist Marianne Vos has announced that she will be focusing on mountain biking for the coming season, as she aims to win a gold medal in the cross-country in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Vos has already won gold medals in track cycling (2008) and road cycling (2012), and winning in mountain-biking would a third gold in a third cycling discipline. Has that been done before?

Embed from Getty Images

Marianne Vos winning the road race in Londen 2012

Combining cycling disciplines is not rare. Quite a few of today’s road racing stars – where most money is earned – have started out on the track or on a mountain-bike. And many of them have excelled in both, as there’s well over 400 cyclists who have competed in multiple disciplines at the Olympics.

Winning medals in multiple disciplines is much rarer, although there are still 23 Olympians who have achieved this. All of them have done this in two disciplines – so Vos would be the first to do it in three. In all cases, the combination was between track cycling and road racing. Of these 23, 7 have won gold medals in both disciplines. (A full list of all track/road medallists follows below.)

The first time a cyclist won medals in more than one discipline was in 1906, when two Frenchmen, Fernand Vast and Maurice Bardonneau, won medals in both types of events. Women’s cycling was introduced at the Olympics only in 1984, but by 1992 two women had already doubled in cycling disciplines. On the podium of the Barcelona women’s 3,000 m individual pursuit, both silver medallist Kathy Watt and bronze medallist Rebecca Twigg had already won medals in road cycling. Only one cyclist has won multiple medals in multiple disciplines. This is Dutch cyclist Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel, who in 2000-2004 collected three golds on the road, while adding one of each color in track cycling.

Although Vos is inexperienced in mountain-biking competition, her prospects of qualifying and winning (a medal) are not that bad. Vos is a 7-time world champion in cyclo-cross, a non-Olympic cycling discipline that features off-road racing with regular width tyres, as opposed to the “fat” MTB tyres.

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Marianne Vos riding towards her seventh cyclo-cross world title

But even if Marianne Vos would fail to become the first cyclist to win (gold) medals in three cycling disciplines, she could still set a record by participating. Since the third (mountainbiking) and fourth (BMX) discipline have been added at the Olympics in 1996 and 2008 respectively, there have been several athletes to compete in one of these in addition to another cycling discipline, but so far no cyclist has competed in three.


Cyclist,NOC,Years,Track Gold, Track Silver, Track Bronze, Road Gold, Road Silver, Road Bronze

Judith Arndt,GER,1996-2012,0,0,1,0,2,0
Maurice Bardonneau,FRA,1906,0,1,0,0,1,0
Chris Boardman,GBR,1992-1996,1,0,0,0,0,1
Jean Van Den Bosch,BEL,1924,0,0,1,0,1,0
Robert Charpentier,FRA,1936,1,0,0,2,0,0
Bernd Dittert,GDR/GER,1988-1992,0,0,1,1,0,0
Jacques Dupont,FRA,1948,1,0,0,0,0,1
Jean Goujon,FRA,1936,1,0,0,1,0,0
Rik Hoevenaers,BEL,1924,0,0,1,0,2,0
Henry Kaltenbrunn,RSA,1920,0,0,1,0,1,0
Guy Lapébie,FRA,1936,1,0,0,1,1,0
Leon Meredith,GBR,1908-1912,1,0,0,0,1,0
Fernand Saivé,BEL,1924,0,0,1,0,1,0
Olga Slyusareva,RUS,2000-2004,1,0,1,0,0,1
Frank Southall,GBR,1928-1932,0,0,1,0,2,0
Rebecca Twigg,USA,1984-1992,0,0,1,0,1,0
Fernand Vast,FRA,1906,0,0,2,1,0,0
Michel Vermeulin,FRA,1956,0,1,0,1,0,0
Marianne Vos,NED,2008-2012,1,0,0,1,0,0
Kathy Watt,AUS,1992,0,1,0,1,0,0
Bradley Wiggins,GBR,2000-2012,3,1,2,1,0,0
Vyacheslav Yekimov,RUS,1988-2004,1,0,0,2,0,0
Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel,NED,2000-2004,1,1,1,3,0,0


Embed from Getty Images

Bradley Wiggins won his fourth Olympic cycling gold – and his first on the road – at the London 2012 Games

Toyota New TOP Sponsor of IOC

Although the rumor mill was in action for several weeks noting that this would occur, Toyota officially signed on today to be a TOP Sponsor of the Olympic Movement for the 2017-2020 and 2021-2024 Olympiads. This is a game changer in many ways.

The figures announced are that Toyota will provide support to the IOC equal to $835 million (US) over 8 years. In the most recent Olympiads TOP Sponsor support has been in the $100-$150 million range per Olympiad, but Toyota is increasing this to the $400-$425 million range.

Below we give the details of all the TOP sponsors since the program began in 1984. TOP originally stood for The Olympic Programme, but more recently has been changed to The Olympic Partners. TOP was devised by then IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch and Vice-President Dick Pound as a way to generate income for the IOC and make it less dependent on the largesse of US television networks. The plan was to make it exclusive, with only a few sponsors, and only one in each product category, but to charge dearly for that exclusivity. The idea was based on the sponsorship policy that Peter Ueberroth used to make the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics so financially successful.

But paying dearly is relative. In the 1985-88 Olympiad, TOP brought in about $96 million total, while companies now must pay more than that each simply to be a member. Official figures are not always announced anymore so the numbers below from 2004-2016 must be considered estimates, but they are certainly close for total revenue generated by the IOC. You will note that for TOP VIII (2013-16) total revenue to the IOC was about $1.15 billion (US). The Toyota support for TOP IX (2017-20) will already push those numbers to $1.56 billion (US), a 35% increase.

But if the Toyota deal becomes more standard, and other companies are pushed to provide support in the same range, this could completely change Olympic economics for Organizing Committees (OCOGs). Let’s assume that the IOC can get $300 million per Olympiad now per company, still less than what Toyota is paying, and that it gets between 10-15 TOP sponsors each Olympiad (there have been a maximum of 12). That now brings the numbers up to the $3-4 billion range per TOP program (perhaps more), an increase in the 250-300% range.

Further, the IOC provides money from the TOP program to OCOGs with most recent figures being about 50% provided to the OCOGs and a large percentage of the rest to the NOCs (International Federations receive IOC money from television sponsorship money). The IOC has kept only about 10% of TOP dollars for its own operating expenses. Assuming those expenses are relatively fixed, increasing perhaps slightly more than inflation, the IOC could now afford to provide a larger percentage of TOP income to OCOGs and NOCs, and this would be a larger percentage of an already greatly increased corpus.

While recent summer host cities have been receiving money in the $1.0-1.5 billion range from the IOC, via TOP income and television contracts, as seed money to get started with their operating expenses, it is possible, with this new paradigm for TOP sponsorship that this could greatly increase, perhaps more than even double. That would make the option to host Olympics again more financially viable to host cities.

A few other things about the Toyota sponsorship. Its becomes the first automobile manufacturer to become a TOP sponsor. It is the 30th company to become a TOP sponsor and its sponsorship of TOP is also a landmark for the IOC, making it the 100th sponsorship overall, as many companies have been sponsors multiple times. Coca-Cola, Matushita/Panasonic, and VISA have been TOP sponsors at every Olympiad since the program’s inception, although Coca-Cola and VISA have not yet signed on for 2021-24. As Michael Payne, former director of IOC marketing, pointed out in a tweet, it will be interesting to see how the Toyota deal affects negotiations for future TOP sponsorship with Coca-Cola and VISA.






Atos Origin,,,,,,x,x,x,x,,4

Bausch & Lomb,,x,x,,,,,,,,2




Dow Chemical,,,,,,,x,x,x,,3

Federal Express,x,,,,,,,,,,1

General Electric,,,,,,x,x,x,x,,4


John Hancock,,,x,x,x,,,,,,3

Johnson & Johnson,,,,,,x,,,,,1









Proctor & Gamble,,,,,,,x,x,x,,3



Schlumberger SEMA,,,,,x,,,,,,1

Time/Sports Illustrated,,x,x,x,x,,,,,,4





# Sponsors,8,12,10,11,10,12,11,11,12,3,100

Money ($US [millions]),$96,$172,$279,$579,$663,$866,$958 ,$1155 ,$1560 ,$900 ,$7228


Cricket and the Olympics

On the 14th of February, the 2015 Cricket World Cup got underway in Australia and New Zealand. It is the largest sporting event after the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, although it will be mainly followed in (former) members of the British Commonwealth. Cricket was an Olympic sport for only a single match, but connections between the two stretch from 1866 to 2012.

Crystal Palace

Our connection begins 30 years before the first modern Olympics, at the 1866 British National Olympic Games. These were in a large part the effort of William Penny Brookes. Brookes was also the founder of the Wenlock Olympian Games, first held in 1850 and still contested today.

Held at Crystal Palace, the National Olympic Games were a big success. The 440 yard hurdles event was won by an 18-year-old who had taken some time off from a cricket match: W.G. Grace.

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Most cricket connaisseurs will need no further explanation, but for those not in the know, William Gilbert Grace, going by W.G. Grace, is one of the greatest cricketers of all time. The bearded legend is described well at CricInfo:

The statistics of his career are alone enough to explain why – more than 54,000 first-class runs (there are at least two different versions of the precise figure, so let’s leave it at that) spread across 44 seasons, including 839 in just eight days of 1876, when he hit a couple of triple-centuries, and only one other batsman managed to top a thousand runs in the entire season; a thousand in May in 1895, when he was nearly 47; and 2800-odd wickets costing less than 18 runs apiece.

An Olympic sport

In 1894, cricket’s association with the Olympics becomes much closer. At the time the IOC is founded, cricket is one of the few well-organized sports, and it is therefore not surprising that it ends up on the short-list of sports for the first Olympics in 1896.

The sport was however never held, no doubt hampered by the fact that Athens (or Greece, for that matter), lacked a wicket.

The first and only ever Olympic cricket match was held at the 1900 Games. Belgium, Britain and the Netherlands, were scheduled to send a team to France, each to play the host nation, but not each other. However, the Low Countries failed to send teams, leaving France v. Great Britain as the only match.

Great Britain (or England, as they were billed) was represented by the touring Devon and Somerset Wanderers, while the French team was made up of clubs that belonged to the Union des Sociétés Français de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA). Most of the “French” players were actually British expatriates living in France, and we’ve only been able to confirm three team members to be French.

The twelve-a-side match was not an exciting affair, the British side being far stronger, eventually winning by 158 runs (see the original scorecard as well as a match report). Most of the Olympic competitors were, as Ian Buchanan has put it “distinctly average club players”, with the exception of two Wanderers players: Montague Toller and Alfred Bowerman, who both played first-class cricket (that’s the top-level, three-days-or-more form of cricket).

No return to the Games

The closest cricket has ever got to making a return to the Olympic Games after its brief appearance in 1900 came four years later in the unlikely setting of St. Louis, Missouri. September 22 was due to see the start of a tournament to decide the “World’s Amateur Cricket Championships” but, a few weeks before it was due to begin, the event was cancelled due to a lack of available pitches. The only confirmed entry we know of came from the city of Philadelphia. The Philadelphians, who included America’s greatest ever cricketer Bart King, would have been rated  alongside South Africa, England and Australia as the four best teams in the world at the time.

Tentative plans were made for a cricket tournament at the 1908 Rome Olympics. When Rome relinquished its right to hold the Games, London made no effort to follow through with these plans.

 So far, cricket has never returned to the Olympics, although the short Twenty20 format seems an ideal candidate for this. Reasons for the sports non-inclusion are rumored to sit with the sport’s governing body ICC and its most powerful members. The ICC is recognized by the IOC.

First-class Olympians

Toller and Bowerman, who played in 1900, are not the only Olympians to have played first-class cricket. We have identified at least 38 more Olympians with at least 1 first-class match. 24 of them competed at the Olympics in field hockey, which makes sense if you know that in Britain, cricket was only played in summer, with hockey or rugby being the winter-time activity.

Embed from Getty Images

Brian Booth batting for Australia

Of these 40 first-class players, there are four who have also played in Test matches (first-class matches between countries that have been given Test status):

  • Brian Booth played 29 Test matches for Australia (1961-66), after competing at the 1956 Olympics in hockey. He captained the team for two matches during the 1965-66 Ashes series.
  • John Douglas played 23 Test matches for England (1911-25). In 1908, he won Olympic gold in the middleweight boxing division. He died tragically in a shipwreck off the Danish coast.
  • Claude Buckenham contested 4 Test matches for England (1909-10), all in the English tour of South Africa in those years. Earlier, Buckenham had played football for Upton Park FC, which represented Britain in football at the 1900 Olympics, winning the Olympic “tournament”.
  • Jack MacBryan is credited with a single Test match for England. He played during a rain-plagued match against South Africa in 1924, where did not bowl, bat or dismiss anybody, while fielding for 66.5 overs. Four years earlier, he had won a gold medal in field hockey.

 Cricket venues

As a final link between the Olympics and top class cricket, four cricket grounds have been used as an Olympic venue. This does not include the 1900 Olympics, as that match was held as the Vincennes velodrome.

In 1928, the demonstration sport of kaatsen (similar to the US version of handball and pelota) was held on the cricket grounds outside the Amsterdam Olympic Stadium. A much better known venue is the Melbourne Cricket Ground. At the 1956 Olympics, it was the main stadium, hosting the opening and closing ceremony, the track and field competitions, as well as matches in football and field hockey. Demonstration matches in baseball and Aussie rules football were also conducted at the MCG.

For the 2000 Olympics, several football matches were held in the stadium. The same occurred in Brisbane, where the Brisbane Cricket Ground served as the venue.

The most famous cricket ground in the world is Lord’s, which calls itself “The home of cricket”. With some right: it has been in use at its current location since 1814. At the 2012 Olympics, the archery competitions were held there.

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The archery competitions at Lord’s.

Gold Medalist Deaths While the Title Holder

A bit more on the tragic helicopter crash that took the lives of French swimming gold medalist Camille Muffat, French boxing medalist Alexis Vastine, and renowned French sailor, although not an Olympian, Florence Arthaud.

Muffat was the gold medalist in the women’s 400 metre freestyle at the London Olympics, and thus died while holding the crown. She becomes the 83rd Olympian to have died as the holding gold medalist. She is the 29th Olympian to have been an individual gold medalist, but dying before the event was next contested. (Earlier post incorrect as when checking the database I looked for Olympians dying within 4 years, and neglected some of the 1912 and 1936 Olympians who waited 8 and 12 years for the next Olympics. Thanks to Harri Piironen for pointing this out.)

The full list of the 83 Olympians who died while the holder of a gold medal is as follows:



Joseph Olivier,M,S,FRA,RUG,1900,1901

Alfred Tysoe,M,S,GBR,ATH,1900,1901

Galen C. Spencer,M,S,USA,ARC,1904,1904

David Bratton,M,S,USA,WAP,1904,1904

Étienne Desmarteau,M,S,CAN,ATH,1904,1905

George Van Cleaf,M,S,USA,WAP,1904,1905

George Sheldon,M,S,USA,DIV,1904,1907

David Hesser,M,S,USA,WAP,1904,1908

John B. Taylor,M,S,USA,ATH,1908,1908

Carl Holmberg,M,S,SWE,GYM,1908,1909

Reggie Doherty,M,S,GBR,TEN,1908,1910

Bernard Redwood,M,S,GBR,MTB,1908,1911

Carl Folcker,M,S,SWE,GYM,1908,1911

Kostas Tsiklitiras,M,S,GRE,ATH,1912,1913

Ralph Rose,M,S,USA,ATH,1912,1913

Ronald Brebner,M,S,GBR,FTB,1912,1914

Guido Romano,M,S,ITA,GYM,1912,1916

Gaston Salmon,M,S,BEL,FEN,1912,1917

Alister Kirby,M,S,GBR,ROW,1912,1917

Isaac Bentham,M,S,GBR,WAP,1912,1917

Victor Willems,M,S,BEL,FEN,1912,1918

Joseph Dines,M,S,GBR,FTB,1912,1918

Cecil Healy,M,S,ANZ,SWI,1912,1918

Henry Macintosh,M,S,GBR,ATH,1912,1918

Harry Sears,M,S,USA,SHO,1912,1920

Mike Kelly,M,S,USA,SHO,1920,1923

Frans De Haes,M,S,BEL,WLT,1920,1923

Émile Albrecht,M,S,SUI,ROW,1924,1927

Sybil Bauer,F,S,USA,SWI,1924,1927

Ödön von Tersztyánszky,M,S,HUN,FEN,1928,1929

René Borjas,M,S,URU,FTB,1928,1931

George Saling,M,S,USA,ATH,1932,1933

Andrew Libano,M,S,USA,SAI,1932,1935

Paul Wevers,M,S,GER,CAN,1936,1941

Ludwig Stubbendorf,M,S,GER,EQU,1936,1941

Herbert Adamski,M,S,GER,ROW,1936,1941

Hugo Strauß,M,S,GER,ROW,1936,1941

Kalle Jalkanen,M,W,FIN,CCS,1936,1941

Heinz Körvers,M,S,GER,HAN,1936,1942

Martin Karl,M,S,GER,ROW,1936,1942

Ernst Winter,M,S,GER,GYM,1936,1943

Arthur Knautz,M,S,GER,HAN,1936,1943

Hans Maier,M,S,GER,ROW,1936,1943

Hans Woellke,M,S,GER,ATH,1936,1943

Foy Draper,M,S,USA,ATH,1936,1943

Heinz Brandt,M,S,GER,EQU,1936,1944

Kurt Hasse,M,S,GER,EQU,1936,1944

Toni Merkens,M,S,GER,CYC,1936,1944

Endre Kabos,M,S,HUN,FEN,1936,1944

Georg Dascher,M,S,GER,HAN,1936,1944

Hannes Hansen,M,S,GER,HAN,1936,1944

Shigeo Arai,M,S,JPN,SWI,1936,1944

Lauri Koskela,M,S,FIN,WRE,1936,1944

Kustaa Pihlajamäki,M,S,FIN,WRE,1936,1944

Rudolf Lippert,M,S,GER,EQU,1936,1945

Willi Menne,M,S,GER,ROW,1936,1945

Ferenc Csík,M,S,HUN,SWI,1936,1945

Olivér Halassy,M,S,HUN,WAP,1936,1946

Corny Johnson,M,S,USA,ATH,1936,1946

Charles Leaf,M,S,GBR,SAI,1936,1947

Sayed Jaffar,M,S,IND,HOK,1936,1937

Gunnar Höckert,M,S,FIN,ATH,1936,1940

Nils Östensson,M,W,SWE,CCS,1948,1949

George Ahlgren,M,S,USA,ROW,1948,1951

Ed Sanders,M,S,USA,BOX,1952,1954

Skippy Browning,M,S,USA,DIV,1952,1956

Viktor Blinov,M,W,URS,ICH,1968,1968

István Kozma,M,S,HUN,WRE,1968,1970

Yuliya Riabchynska,F,S,URS,CAN,1972,1973

Yuriy Lahutin,M,S,URS,HAN,1976,1978

Bronisław Malinowski,M,S,POL,ATH,1980,1981

Volodymyr Smyrnov,M,S,URS,FEN,1980,1982

Sergey Rogozhin,M,S,URS,EQU,1980,1983

Valeriy Hoborov,M,S,URS,BAS,1988,1989

Paolo Caldarella,M,S,ITA,WAP,1992,1993

Roberto Balado,M,S,CUB,BOX,1992,1994

Fabio Casartelli,M,S,ITA,CYC,1992,1995

Sergey Grinkov,M,W,RUS,FSK,1994,1995

Sandra Schmirler,F,W,CAN,CUR,1998,2000

Bekzat Sattarkhanov,M,S,KAZ,BOX,2000,2000

Sammy Wanjiru,M,S,KEN,ATH,2008,2011

Camille Muffat,F,S,FRA,SWI,2012,2015


Here is the list of the 29 individual gold medalists who died as holders:



Étienne Desmarteau,M,S,CAN,ATH,1904,1905

George Sheldon,M,S,USA,DIV,1904,1907

Kostas Tsiklitiras,M,S,GRE,ATH,1912,1913

Ralph Rose,M,S,USA,ATH,1912,1913

Frans De Haes,M,S,BEL,WLT,1920,1923

Sybil Bauer,F,S,USA,SWI,1924,1927

Ödön von Tersztyánszky,M,S,HUN,FEN,1928,1929

George Saling,M,S,USA,ATH,1932,1933

Gunnar Höckert,M,S,FIN,ATH,1936,1940

Ludwig Stubbendorf,M,S,GER,EQU,1936,1941

Hans Woellke,M,S,GER,ATH,1936,1943

Kurt Hasse,M,S,GER,EQU,1936,1944

Toni Merkens,M,S,GER,CYC,1936,1944

Endre Kabos,M,S,HUN,FEN,1936,1944

Lauri Koskela,M,S,FIN,WRE,1936,1944

Kustaa Pihlajamäki,M,S,FIN,WRE,1936,1944

Ferenc Csík,M,S,HUN,SWI,1936,1945

Corny Johnson,M,S,USA,ATH,1936,1946

Ed Sanders,M,S,USA,BOX,1952,1954

Skippy Browning,M,S,USA,DIV,1952,1956

István Kozma,M,S,HUN,WRE,1968,1970

Yuliya Riabchynska,F,S,URS,CAN,1972,1973

Bronisław Malinowski,M,S,POL,ATH,1980,1981

Volodymyr Smyrnov,M,S,URS,FEN,1980,1982

Roberto Balado,M,S,CUB,BOX,1992,1994

Fabio Casartelli,M,S,ITA,CYC,1992,1995

Bekzat Sattarkhanov,M,S,KAZ,BOX,2000,2000

Sammy Wanjiru,M,S,KEN,ATH,2008,2011

Camille Muffat,F,S,FRA,SWI,2012,2015


Full details of the Olympians, the events in which they competed, and their deaths can be found at www.sports-reference.com/olympics.

Olympians Die in Argentine Helicopter Crash

The time you won your town the race,
We chaired you through the marketplace.
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder high.

Yesterday, two helicopters crashed in Argentina during the filming of a reality survival show. All aboard the choppers were killed, including French swimmer Camille Muffat, a gold medalist in the 400 metre freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics, and Alexis Vastine, a French boxing bronze medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It was, sadly, not the first time that plane disasters claimed the lives of Olympic athletes, often those still young, still in their prime, still with lives to live, victories to win, and laughs to laugh.

Today the road all runners come,
Shoulder high we bring you home.
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Camille Muffat 1989-2015 RIP

Shortly after the 1948 Winter Olympics, on 8 November 1948, the Czechoslovak ice hockey team boarded a flight from Paris to London, but the plane disappeared over the English Channel, and six Czechoslovak Olympians, along with all the other passengers, would skate no more. Gone were Jaroslav Jiřík, Karel Stibor, Ladislav Troják, Miloslav Pokorný, Vilibald Šťovík, and Zdeněk Jarkovský.

Smart lad to slip betimes away,
From fields where glory does not stay.
For quickly though the laurel grows,
It withers quicker than a rose.

On 15 February 1961 the US figure skating was travelling to the World Championships in Praha, Czechoslovakia, when their Sabena Boeing 707 crashed on approach to the Brussels airport in Belgium, Everyone was killed including the entire US figure skating team, which included Olympians Laurie Owen, Maribel Owen, Maribel Vinson Owen, Dudley Richards, Ray Hadley, Jr., and Ila Ray Hadley.

Eyes the shady night has shut,
Cannot see the record cut.
And silence sounds no worse than cheers,
After earth has stopped the ears.

In August 1979, two Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-134s collided over Dniprodzerzhynsk, Ukraine, killing 178 including the complete football team of Pakhtakor Toshkent. On the plane was Soviet footballer Vladimir Fyodorov, who had played for the Soviet Union at the 1976 Montréal Olympics.

Now you will not swell the rout,
Of lads who wore their honors out.
Runners whom renown outran,
And the name died before the man.

On 27 April 1993, a Buffalo DHC-5D of the Zambian Air Force crashed off the coast of Gabon about 500 metres from Libreville, killing all 30 aboard including 18 Zambian footballers and their coaches. This include 8 previous Zambian Olympians – Alex Chola, Derby Makinka, Efford Chabala, Eston Mulenga, Godfrey Chitalu, Richard Mwanza, Samuel Chomba, and Wisdom Chansa.

The Zambian team at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations pay tribute to the lost generation of Zambian football.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

On 7 September 2011, a Yakovlev Yak-42D carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team crashed on take-off from Tunoshna Airport, in Yaroslavl, Russia. Olympians from five different nations were lost that night – Pavol Demitra (Slovakia), Stefan Liv (Sweden), Ruslan Saley (Belarus), Kārlis Skrastiņš (Latvia), and Josef Vašíček (Czech Republic).

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl’s. – A. E. Housman

There have been others. And likely there will sadly be more in the future. For the most complete list of Olympians who have died in plane crashes, see our list at http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/friv/lists.cgi?id=2. May they all rest in peace, may we give honor to their lives, and may they stay, in our memories, forever young.

International Women’s Day

Today, 8 March, is International Women’s Day, which has been celebrated now since 1909. So in terms of the Olympics, which nations have been most fair in promoting female participation? This is a difficult question to answer as many of the most prominent nations have competed in the Olympics for the longest time, when there were far fewer women’s events. But here are the nations that have had the highest percentage of females on their Olympic teams, overall, looking at the Summer Games only:



East Timor,5,2,3,60.0%


Saint Kitts and Nevis,17,8,9,52.9%



DPR Korea (North),325,172,153,47.1%

Saint Lucia,17,9,8,47.1%

São Tomé and Principe,11,6,5,45.5%




Among the major nations, the players you would expect, here is how their Summer Olympic team breakdown works out:





German Demo. Rep.,1129,761,368,32.6%


New Zealand,1112,760,352,31.7%

The Netherlands,2468,1795,673,27.3%


United States,7327,5467,1860,25.4%


Fed. Rep. of Germany,1371,1027,344,25.1%

Great Britain,5281,4011,1270,24.0%








Again, remember that many of these nations competed prior to World War II, when there were very few women’s events.

And what about those nations who have had very few, in some cases, almost no, female Summer Olympians:



Saudi Arabia,142,140,2,1.4%








British Virgin Islands,23,22,1,4.3%



Among current IOC Member nations, only three have had only 1 female competitor – British Virgin Islands (22), Brunei (5), and Tuvalu (4), while six have had only 2 women compete – Botswana (50), Kiribati (5), Monaco (62), Nauru (6), Oman (37), and Saudi Arabia (140). The numbers in parentheses indicate those nations’ male Olympians

Charlotte Cooper - First Female Olympic Gold Medalist - 1900 Tennis
Charlotte Cooper – First Female Olympic Gold Medalist – 1900 Tennis


As noted, in those early years, there were very few events for women at the Olympics. How bad was it, Johnny? Here is the breakdown:

































Wojdan Shaherkani, Judo player from Saudi Arabia – London 2012

So, as you can see, prior to World War II, women rarely had even 15% of the events in which they could compete, with the exception of 1900 when there were a lot of mixed events.

How many women have actually competed at the Summer Olympics, as a percentage of the total, since 1896? Here is that table:

































So as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we can see that at the Olympics, in terms of female participation, things were once very bad, they are better now, but there is still a long way to go.