Ernestine Lebrun

Another quick blog entry to provide a brief update today on Oldest Olympians. This time, we are updating our list of last survivors from early editions of the Games. At the time we first presented this feature, we noted that American diver and swimmer Aileen Riggin was believed to be the last known survivor from the 1920 Antwerp Games and wrote the following: “Although she died at the age of ‘only’ 96 years, 170 days on October 19, 2002, we have been unable to locate another candidate for the last survivor of the 1920 Antwerp Games, although it is certainly possible, given how much data on this edition we are missing, that another contender will emerge in the future.”

Thanks to researcher and historian Taavi Kalju, we can now identify someone from those Games who outlived Riggin by nearly three years. Swimmer Ernestine Lebrun, born February 26, 1906, represented France in two editions of the Summer Olympics, competing in four freestyle events between 1920 and 1924, but never making it past the first round. She also helped her teammates come in fifth in the 4×100 metres freestyle relay in 1924. Domestically, she won 12 national titles, as well as the women’s Traversée de Paris à la nage twice.

Lebrun married Eugène Basse in 1930 and lived as Ernestine Basse until her death on May 6, 2005, at the age of 99 years, 69 days, meaning that she long outlived Riggin and was still alive nearly 85 years after he Olympic appearance. We were unable to find any mention of her subsequent career or later activities, which suggests that she did not seek the limelight after her marriage, and perhaps this is why her death went unnoticed, at least by most of the world. Nonetheless, this new discovery gives her the status of last-known survivor of the 1920 Antwerp Games, even though she did not quite make 100 years, and updates our previous post.

Eladio Herrera

Today on Olympic Mysteries we have a quick blog entry. The subject of our inquiry is a new bronze medal mystery, Eladio Herrera, born February 9, 1930, who earned his prize in boxing for Argentina in 1952. Since we have been unable to discern whether or not he is still alive, we thought that we would provide a quick entry to see if anyone can help determine his status one way or another.

(Eladio Herrera, pictured at

Herrera competed at two editions of the Summer Olympics. In 1948 in London he finished joint-fifth in the welterweight category after besting one opponent, but losing his next bout to American Hank Herring, the upcoming silver medalist. In 1952 in Helsinki, this time as a light-heavyweight, he defeated three boxers before losing in the semi-finals to three-time gold medalist László Papp of Hungary, thus earning bronze. Herrera then returned to the welterweight division and turned professional, but contested only two bouts two years apart, winning the first and losing the second, before retiring.

Herrera turned to coaching after his active career, working out of Buenos Aires’ Almagro Boxing Club through at least the 1980s. This is where our trail for him goes cold, as we have been unable to trace his activities after this point. Thus, we are presenting his story today in the hopes that someone can let us know what became of him after this and end his tenure as a bronze medal mystery.

Micheline Lannoy

Today on the Oldest Olympians blog we wanted to revisit one of our earliest Olympic Mysteries, that of Belgian figure skater Micheline Lannoy, who was for a long time the only Olympic gold medal mystery. Since some of our readers have noticed that she has now been added as an official entry on our tables of Oldest Olympans, we felt it worthwhile to dedicate a little space to an update.

A bit of background for those unfamiliar: Lannoy and her partner Pierre Baugniet were Belgian national champions in the pairs event from 1944 through 1947. In 1947 they took both the European and World Championships, and then followed that up with victories at the Worlds and the Olympics in 1948. Despite these impressive successes, the duo ended their careers after the Games and managed to maintain a low-profile thereafter. For Baugniet, only the year of his death, 1981, is known, but for Lannoy we had been unable to discern whether or not she is alive. All we knew at our last posting is that she later moved to Canada and took the married name MacAulay.

Thanks to research conducted by Connor Mah and Rob Gilmore, however, we learned that Lannoy was living in Kingston, Ontario as recently as 2012. While it is certainly possible that she has since died, we have not seen any evidence of an obituary and this date falls within the range for which we would list someone as being alive, and thus we have included her on our tables. We hope that more recent evidence will come to light soon.

(Roger Midgley’s obituary)

While we are discussing Lannoy, we feel that it is worth updating some other previous Olympic mysteries. We already featured French track athlete Robert Chef d’Hôtel on Oldest Olympians, a former Olympic silver medal mystery who, as it turned out, had still been alive and died only recently, in October 2019, at the age of 97. Even more recently, Roger Midgley, a British field hockey player whom we had listed as a bronze medal mystery, died December 12, 2019 at the age of 95.

(Jim Hill, pictured in his obituary)

The same research into French death records by Taavi Kalju that confirmed Robert Chef d’Hôtel’s death, meanwhile, also verified that French basketball player Robert Guillin was the same individual as the one we noted previously as having died November 25, 2013. Meanwhile Connor Mah also located an obituary for silver medal-winning sport shooter Jim Hill of the United States: he died August 8, 2018 at the age of 86. Finally, Ian Taylor located a picture of the gravestone of the Ken Box who died in Australia in July 1982, which notes that he was aged 76 at the time of his death, far too old to have been the 1956 British track and field Olympian. Box, therefore, has been restored to our “possibly living” list, as we have been unable to find any confirmation that he is still alive.

And that is our entry for today! We hope that you have found these updates useful, and we will be back next week with more Olympic Mysteries!

1930 Olympic Missing Links, Part 3

Today, after some delay, Oldest Olympians is concluding its inquiry into the subject of missing links from the year 1930, which looks at cases for whom we believed to have identified their date of death but, for whatever reason, we were unable to connect the information, such as obituary or public record, conclusively to the athlete. This series examines those who were born in 1930 and who would otherwise be the newest possibilities for our list of oldest living Olympians. There are only two entries today, as we managed to solve the case of our third planned individual in the interim.

Armando Estrada – Member of Cuba’s basketball delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Armando Estrada, born January 28, 1930, was a member of the Cuban basketball squad that was eliminated in round one of the tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games, after losing all three of its round robin matches to France, Chile, and Egypt. They performed better in the qualification round, however, defeating Belgium twice (in regular play and in a playoff) and losing to Bulgaria. Unfortunately, as with so many members of team sports, this is all that we know about Estrada, but the United States Naturalization Records list an Armando Julian Estrada, born on the same day as the Olympian, becoming an American in California on October 23, 1970. The only other clue we have is an obituary that lists an Armando J. Estrada, born January 21, 1930, who died August 18, 2010 in Inglewood, California. Taken together, these clues could indicate that the individual in the obituary is the Olympian, but there is not enough evidence at any step of the way to conclude that for certain.

Kim In-Su – Member of South Korea’s volleyball delegation to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics

Kim In-Su, born August 18, 1930, took part in 10th place finish at the 1964 Tokyo Games, where the nation lost all nine of its matches. Without wanting to sound too repetitive, this is all that we could find about him, although this is not surprising given the result, as well as the language barrier. We mention him on this blog, however, because we located a grave in Virginia for a man with his name born August 20, 1930, who died November 15, 1990. Unfortunately, the name and the close date of birth is all we have for this case, as we cannot even confirm if he moved to the United States at some point after his Olympic appearance.

This concludes this series for now, but we will have more Olympic mysteries for you next week, so we hope that you will join us!