Hana Bobková

Today on Oldest Olympians we are keeping our blog entry fairly simple. In the past, we have compiled lists of Olympic medal-winning athletes who are not known to be either alive or deceased. Today we have one more name to add to those lists: Hana Bobková.

Bobková, born February 19, 1929, represented Czechoslovakia in gymnastics at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, where she earned a bronze medal in the team all-around. She also placed joint-sixth in the team portable apparatus, while her best individual finish was 27th in the individual bars. While this was her only Olympic appearance as a competitor, she later served as a referee at the 1960, 1968, 1972, and 1980 Games. By career, she coached gymnastics. We suspect that Bobkova is still alive, given her notability, but a combination of the language barrier, as well as the fact that her married name, Vláčilová, matches that of a famous dancer, means that we have been unable to confirm this for certain. If anyone has any additional information, it would be appreciated greatly.


In the meantime, thanks to a contribution from a user on Wikipedia, we have been able to solve one of our previous Olympic silver medal mysteries. Luciano Negrini, born June 22, 1920, who won a silver medal for Italy in the coxed pairs at the 1936 Berlin Games, died December 12, 2012 at the age of 92, according to a biography of his life that was published in a magazine recently. Negrini was the oldest Italian Olympic medalist about whom we had no information, and would have been the oldest living Italian Olympic medalist, ahead of fencer Roberto Ferrari, had he still been alive.

Last Verified Living in 2008

With the new year well underway, we here at Oldest Olympians felt that it was time to review those Olympians whom we believe to be still alive, but may have died unnoticed over the past year. As always, we begin with those whose last confirmation of being alive is the furthest away; in this case, three individuals who were last verified living in 2008, or over 10 years ago. Should no updated confirmation be forthcoming, we would have to remove them from our main table, and thus we decided it was best to dedicate a blog entry to them in the hopes of uncovering whether or not they are still with us.

(Pictured on the left at the archives of Canada.com)

Edna Maskell – Member of South Africa’s track and field delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Edna Maskell, born April 13, 1928, represented South Africa in the 100 metres sprint and the 80 metres hurdles at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, and was eliminated in the second round of both events, as she was recovering from an appendix operation. She had far more success representing Northern Rhodesia at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, however, winning the 80 metres hurdles and coming in third in the 100 yards dash. She retired from active competition shortly thereafter to live a quiet life on a farm and, although a magazine did a feature on her for her 80th birthday, we have not heard anything about her since.


(Pictured at nostal.co.il)

Yoav Ra’anan – Israel’s lone Olympic diver

Yoav Ra’anan, born January 15, 1928, is the only diver to have represented Israel at the Olympics as of 2016. At the 1952 Helsinki Games he was 9th in the springboard and 30th in the platform, while in 1956 in Melbourne he was 22nd in the springboard and carried the national flag in the opening ceremony. He was most successful internationally in-between these two editions, as he won gold in the springboard and silver in the platform at the 1954 Asian Games. There are many hints and suggestions on the internet that he is still alive, but the last definite confirmation that we received comes from 2008.


(The 2008 award ceremony)

Léon Roth – Member of Luxembourg’s canoe/kayak delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Léon Roth, born September 10, 1926, represented Luxembourg in two kayak events at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, finishing 17th in the K-1 10,000 and being eliminated in round one of the K-2 1000. In June 2008, all surviving Luxembourgish athletes who attended the 1936, 1948, 1952, and 1956 Games were awarded the Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, which was the last time we were able to confirm that Roth was still alive.


That is it for this week, but we hope that you will join us next time as we continue to blog about Olympic mysteries and explore the caveats and questions that are raised when building the most definitive list possible of the world’s oldest Olympians!

Olympic Missing Links, Part 14

Today we are concluding our look into Olympians for whom we believe to have identified their date of death but, for whatever reason, we are unable to connect the information, such as obituary or public record, conclusively to the athlete. This week, we are looking into all the cases that remain that did not quite fit into another one of our posts.


Robert Guillin – Member of France’s basketball delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Robert Guillin, born February 15, 1926, represented France in the basketball tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, where the nation finished eighth. He had more success at Eurobasket, winning bronze medals with the team in 1951 and 1953. We uncovered a notice for a Robert Guillin who died November 11, 2013 at the age of 87, which would match up to the age of the Olympian. Unfortunately, the obituary provided no details that would help us confirm if the listed individual was indeed the basketball player.




(Roy Congreve’s obituary in The Sydney Morning Herald, May 28, 1994, pg. 99)

Roy Congreve – Member of Kenya’s shooting delegation to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics

Roy Congreve, born April 16, 1913, represented Kenya in its inaugural appearance at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, where he was 39th and 40th in sport shooting’s rifle, three positions, 50 metres and rifle, prone, 50 metres events respectively. We are familiar with a Roy Congreve, born May 3, 1913 in Wellington, New Zealand, who had a lengthy career as a surveyor in Kenya through 1938 through at least 1956 and died May 26, 1994 in Sydney, Australia. Given his service during World War II, we are almost certain that this Roy Congreve is the Olympian, but we lack the smoking gun to make the definitive connection.



Ghislain Delaunois – Member of Belgium’s fencing delegations to the 1952 and 1956 Summer Olympics

Ghislain Delaunois, born December 20, 1923, represented Belgium in six épée and foil events between the 1952 Helsinki and 1956 Melbourne Olympics, with a best finish of joint-fifth in the team épée in 1956. He never won an international medal, and the only hints to his later life that we could uncover came from an anonymous Wikipedia edit, which claimed that he died on December 12, 1992. We have not, however, been able to confirm this as a fact.


And that’s a wrap for this topic! We are deeply grateful to those who took the time out to resolve some of the mysteries we posted and who uncovered new information. Not only did we solve cases thanks to their contributions, but the research we put into deciding who would be posted helped us answer other questions that never made it to the blog. Moreover, since nothing on the internet ever disappears, we hope that for those cases that remain mysterious, our blogging will help spread our research and help new information come to the light in the near future. For next week, however, we will have to come up with a new topic for the first time in a long time, and although we are not sure yet what it will be, we hope that you will join us!

Olympic Missing Links, Part 13

Today we are continuing our look into Olympians for whom we believe to have identified their date of death but, for whatever reason, we are unable to connect the information, such as obituary or public record, conclusively to the athlete. This week, we are looking into Switzerland, a nation that, like Austria last week, happens to have three mysteries left for us to discuss, and is a country that we have mentioned in the past as having Olympians about whom it can be surprisingly difficult to locate information.


Roger Rubini – Member of Switzerland’s weightlifting delegation to the 1948 and 1952 Summer Olympics

Roger Rubini, born January 25, 1920, represented Switzerland in middleweight and lightweight weightlifting at the 1948 and 1952 Summer Olympics, finishing well off the podium both times. He had more luck as a lightweight at the 1951 European Championships, where he earned a bronze medal. Years ago, we came across an obituary for a Roger Rubini who died in Switzerland in August 2007 but, without further collaborating information, we have only been able to speculate as to whether this was the Olympian.

(Pictured at waffenlauf.ch)

Hans Frischknecht – Member of Switzerland’s marathon team at the 1948 London Olympics

Hans Frischknecht, born December 31, 1922, was one of Switzerland’s top marathon runners during the 1950s, but his only Olympic appearance came at the 1948 London Games, where he failed to complete the race. He was also selected for the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, but did not actually participate. At home, he won eight national championships between the marathon and the 10,000 metres, set several national records, and was elected Swiss Sportsman of the Year in 1955. He did not retire fully until 1975. Despite how well-known he was, we have found no definite indication of his death, just a brief notice that someone with his name and of the correct age died in 2001.

(Obituary at todesanzeigenportal.ch)

René Wohler – Member of Switzerland’s basketball squad at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

René Wohler, born September 4, 1922, represented Switzerland at the basketball tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, where the nation was eliminated in the qualifying round. He also took part in the 1946 and 1951 editions of EuroBasket, while domestically he suited up for Servette FC. Outside of basketball, we came across an obituary for a man of the same name, born in 1922, who died in January 2017, but with no corroborating details that would help us identify him definitively as the Olympian.

In terms of updates on Olympians that we have already discussed on this blog, we have learned, thanks to submissions from Connor Mah, that Canadian track and field bronze medalist Viola Myers died November 15, 1993 and Canadian equestrian Larry McGuinness was the same individual as the one who died December 27, 2017. He also suggested that the obituary we uncovered for Johnny Keller was likely not the Olympian of the same name, and that the Olympic Keller likely died in British Columbia in 1980, a lead that we will be following up. We also contacted the son of swimmer Dick Wyndham, who confirmed that the individual mentioned in the obituary we discussed was indeed in the Olympian.


That is our post for today, but we hope that you will join us next week, when we will be concluding this lengthy series by looking at the remaining Olympic mysteries that fall in this category. We hope that you will join us!