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

Field Parameter
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
Olympics Event Place Medal
1956 Summer 4×100 free relay 2
Pan-Ams Event Place Medal
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?

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.

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

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.

End 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012 2016 2020 2024 Totals
3M x x 2
Acer x 1
Atos Origin x x x x 4
Bausch & Lomb x x 2
Bridgestone x x x 3
Brother x x 2
Coca-Cola x x x x x x x x x 9
Dow Chemical x x x 3
Federal Express x 1
General Electric x x x x 4
IBM x x 2
John Hancock x x x 3
Johnson & Johnson x 1
Kodak x x x x x x 6
Lenovo x 1
Manulife x 1
Mars x 1
Matushita/Panasonic x x x x x x x x x x 10
McDonalds x x x x x x 6
Omega x x x x 4
Philips x x 2
Proctor & Gamble x x x 3
Ricoh x 1
Samsung x x x x x x 6
Schlumberger SEMA x 1
Time/Sports Illustrated x x x x 4
Toyota x x 2
UPS x x x 3
VISA x x x x x x x x x 9
Xerox x x x 3
# 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.

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.

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.

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:

Name Gdr Ssn NOC Spt Year YOD
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:

Name Gdr Ssn NOC Spt Year YOD
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:

NOC Total Men Women Fem%%%
East Timor 5 2 3 60.0%
Bhutan 19 8 11 57.9%
Saint Kitts and Nevis 17 8 9 52.9%
China 2076 1015 1061 51.1%
Palau 18 9 9 50.0%
DPR Korea (North) 325 172 153 47.1%
Saint Lucia 17 9 8 47.1%
São Tomé and Principe 11 6 5 45.5%
Belarus 537 295 242 45.1%
Angola 148 82 66 44.6%

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

NOC Total Men Women Fem%%%
Russia 1633 942 691 42.3%
Jamaica 320 207 113 35.3%
German Demo. Rep. 1129 761 368 32.6%
Romania 1456 995 461 31.7%
New Zealand 1112 760 352 31.7%
The Netherlands 2468 1795 673 27.3%
Germany 3516 2592 924 26.3%
United States 7327 5467 1860 25.4%
Brazil 1708 1279 429 25.1%
Fed. Rep. of Germany 1371 1027 344 25.1%
Great Britain 5281 4011 1270 24.0%
Cuba 1204 918 286 23.8%
Poland 2233 1715 518 23.2%
Sweden 2738 2263 475 17.3%
Norway 1361 1125 236 17.3%
France 4911 4082 829 16.9%
Switzerland 1741 1486 255 14.6%

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:

NOC Total Men Women Fem%%%
Saudi Arabia 142 140 2 1.4%
Kuwait 192 189 3 1.6%
Pakistan 354 346 8 2.3%
Afghanistan 100 97 3 3.0%
Monaco 64 62 2 3.1%
Iraq 174 168 6 3.4%
Qatar 108 104 4 3.7%
Botswana 52 50 2 3.8%
British Virgin Islands 23 22 1 4.3%
Iran 463 441 22 4.8%

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:

Events Men Women Mixed Total Fem%%% FemEligible
1896 43 0 0 43 0.0% 0.0%
1900 71 2 22 95 2.1% 25.3%
1904 92 3 0 95 3.2% 3.2%
1906 72 1 1 74 1.4% 2.7%
1908 96 3 7 106 2.8% 9.4%
1912 91 5 6 102 4.9% 10.8%
1920 130 7 15 152 4.6% 14.5%
1924 112 10 4 126 7.9% 11.1%
1928 92 14 3 109 12.8% 15.6%
1932 99 14 4 117 12.0% 15.4%
1936 110 15 4 129 11.6% 14.7%
1948 112 19 5 136 14.0% 17.6%
1952 117 25 7 149 16.8% 21.5%
1956 116 26 9 151 17.2% 23.2%
1960 113 29 8 150 19.3% 24.7%
1964 119 33 11 163 20.2% 27.0%
1968 115 39 18 172 22.7% 33.1%
1972 132 43 20 195 22.1% 32.3%
1976 130 49 19 198 24.7% 34.3%
1980 134 50 19 203 24.6% 34.0%
1984 144 62 15 221 28.1% 34.8%
1988 151 72 14 237 30.4% 36.3%
1992 159 86 12 257 33.5% 38.1%
1996 163 97 11 271 35.8% 39.9%
2000 168 120 12 300 40.0% 44.0%
2004 166 125 10 301 41.5% 44.9%
2008 165 127 10 302 42.1% 45.4%
2012 162 132 8 302 43.7% 46.4%
Totals 3374 1208 274 4856 24.9% 30.5%

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:

Year Women Total Wom% WomNOCs NOCs %NOC
1896 0 246 0.0% 0 12 0.0%
1900 23 1614 1.4% 6 31 19.4%
1904 6 650 0.9% 1 15 6.7%
1906 6 841 0.7% 2 21 9.5%
1908 44 2023 2.2% 3 22 13.6%
1912 53 2377 2.2% 10 27 37.0%
1920 77 2670 2.9% 14 29 48.3%
1924 135 3067 4.4% 20 44 45.5%
1928 274 2878 9.5% 25 46 54.3%
1932 126 1334 9.4% 19 38 50.0%
1936 329 3956 8.3% 27 49 55.1%
1948 393 4073 9.6% 32 59 54.2%
1952 521 4932 10.6% 41 69 59.4%
1956 383 3344 11.5% 38 72 52.8%
1960 612 5350 11.4% 45 83 54.2%
1964 680 5137 13.2% 53 93 57.0%
1968 783 5557 14.1% 54 112 48.2%
1972 1060 7113 14.9% 67 121 55.4%
1976 1260 6073 20.7% 65 92 70.7%
1980 1123 5259 21.4% 56 80 70.0%
1984 1569 6798 23.1% 95 140 67.9%
1988 2202 8453 26.0% 118 159 74.2%
1992 2723 9386 29.0% 134 169 79.3%
1996 3519 10339 34.0% 168 197 85.3%
2000 4069 10648 38.2% 191 200 95.5%
2004 4304 10561 40.8% 192 201 95.5%
2008 4611 10901 42.3% 195 204 95.6%
2012 4657 10520 44.3% 201 205 98.0%
Totals 25467 107829 23.6% 209 221 94.6%

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.