Addressing Recent Removals

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to address the topic of individuals who are removed from our lists without any formal post to acknowledge the change. This usually occurs when we discover that an individual whom we believed to have been alive actually died a year or more ago without us having known at the time. With the exception of centenarians, such as when we were a year late in discovering that Mexican equestrian Mario Becerril had died, there never seems to be an appropriate time to publish a dedicated post for someone who died a year or two earlier. Thus, while we are catching up on blog entries, we wanted to post about a few of those cases as a group.

Lois Stephens – Member of the United States’ equestrian delegation to the 1972 Munich Olympics

The case that spurred this blog post was that of American equestrian Lois Stephens, born March 27, 1923, whom we believed to be the oldest survivor of the 1972 Munich Games, and was one of two possible individuals we considered featuring on her birthday (even before we learned she was deceased, however, we decided to go with Guatemala’s oldest living Olympian, Oswaldo Johnston). Stephens represented her country at the 1972 Munich Olympics, where she came in 31st in the individual dressage and ninth with the American team. Although we noted her birthday with a post last year, we discovered a brief mention recently that she actually died in 2018, and without an exact date, it is possible that she died prior to even her 95th birthday.

Suse Heinze – Member of Germany’s diving delegation to the 1936 Berlin Games

At the beginning of this year, we believed that not only was Suse Heinze, born May 25, 1920, one of the many Olympians slated to turn 100 in 2020, but that she was the oldest living German Olympian as well. Heinze competed in the women’s springboard diving event at the 1936 Berlin Games, placing seventh, but had better luck at the 1938 European Championships, where she won a bronze medal in the 10 metre platform. Nationally, she won a total of seven titles in the platform (4) and the springboard (3). Sadly, earlier this year we were informed by historian and researcher Ralf Regnitter that Heinze had died on November 26, 2018, and was unfortunately not alive the last time we featured her on what we believed to be her 99th birthday in 2019.

(Maurice Tabet, pictured at Abdo Gedeon)

Maurice Tabet – Member of Lebanon’s sport shooting delegations to the 1960 and 1972 Summer Olympics

Finally, we had Maurice Tabet, born February 1, 1919, listed as Lebanon’s oldest Olympian for the first year of our tables, as well as the oldest living Olympian from the 1960 Rome Olympics, where he took part in trap shooting. He was also present at the 1972 Munich Games, this time as a skeet shooter, and held numerous important positions in Lebanese sports administration, including serving as president of its shooting federation from 1965 through 1970. Outside of sport, he served with the Lebanese Diplomatic Corps in several countries and was also successful in business. Unfortunately, at the end of 2018, we discovered his obituary in An-Nahar (page 17), which noted that he died January 27, 2014, well before we started oldest Olympians. Nonetheless, we were happy to have had the opportunity to feature him as one of the earliest profiles on our site.

Those are the three names that came to mind immediately for this topic, but if there are any more removals that you noticed that were not addressed, please feel free to leave us a message and we can post an update on those cases. Otherwise, we still have some blogs to write, so we hope that you will join us next time!

Paulette Veste

We are still trying to catch up on our missed blog entries here at Oldest Olympians, so we have decided to devote one to a single Olympian, French field athlete Paulette Veste, whom we believe to be still alive, but whose situation deserves a little more space than we would normally dedicate to a Twitter, or even Facebook, post.

Veste, born February 24, 1928, took up athletics during World War II and began competing in earnest after the conflict, specializing in the shot put and discus throw. She won six national titles (three each) in those events between 1948 and 1953 and attended two editions of the Olympics: in 1948 she was fourth and tenth in the shot put and discus respectively, while in 1952 she was ninth and sixteenth in the same events. In-between, she was sixth in the discus at the 1950 European Championships. She also set two official French records in the discus in 1948. Her last competitive year was 1953, after which she married and moved to the United States, settling in Florida and becoming a naturalized citizen.

(Veste, pictured at the Fédération française d’athlétisme)

The source of confusion comes from when, and if, she died. The Fédération française d’athlétisme lists her as having died on March 1, 2014, which seems straightforward enough, as their data is comprehensive and well-researched. We recently uncovered a story in the French press, however, that mentioned her as being alive at the age of 90. This was not an oversight or assumption that she was still alive; rather, it contained an interview with her and referenced activity at least as recently as 2016, if not contemporary to the article’s 2018 publishing date. While sources in the past have discussed Olympians as if they were alive, only for them to turn out deceased later, in this case we feel fairly confident that Veste is still alive, or at least was as of 2018, and that the Fédération française d’athlétisme is mistaken.

(Veste, pictured in the 2018 article)

We hope that this clarifies any confusion about why Veste is listed as alive on our tables, yet deceased on other sites. We are still in the process of catching up on blog entries, so we aim to have another one out soon and, as always, we hope you will join us for it!

Newly Discovered Centenarians

With so many birthdays and, sadly, deaths for the oldest Olympians as of late, we have had limited opportunities to write new blog posts. Today, therefore, we wanted to begin catching up by briefly covering two deceased centenarian Olympians that were discovered recently by Olympic historian Taavi Kalju. Through his research, he was able to identify literally hundreds of missing datapoints for Olympians, some of which we have already discussed, and we wanted to share a few more of his findings on this blog.

(The 6 metre race at the 1936 Berlin Games, from 1936 Summer Olympics – The Results)

Jacques Rambaud – Member of the French 6-metre class crew at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

As is the case with many sailors, outside of his Olympic participation we know very little of Jacques Rambaud, who was born April 25, 1906. At the 1936 Berlin Games, he was a member of four-time Olympic sailor Jean Peytel’s crew aboard the Qu’Importe. Alongside Claude Desouches, Gérard de Piolenc, and Yves Baudrier, they finished 10th out of 12 teams in the 6-metre event. Rambaud later moved to Switzerland and died there in Fribourg on September 14, 2006, at the age of 100 years, 142 days.

Lucie Petit-Diagre – Member of the Belgian track and field athletics team at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

On the other hand, we know much about Lucie Petit-Diagre, who was born in Paris’ 18th arrondissement on July 24, 1901. From 1921 through 1927 she was a member of the French national team, earning national titles in the two (1923) and one-handed shot put (1927), as well as the discus (1924). It was in the latter category that she set a world record of 27.70 metres and, overall, she earned seven additional French medals in those events, as well as one in the high jump. She then married a Belgian journalist and began representing that country, including at the 1928 Amsterdam Games, where she was 20th in the discus throw.

In 1929, she won her last national title, the Belgian shot put, but she continued competing through the first half of the 1930s. She also dabbled in rowing and swimming. She subsequently settled into private life and died on December 24, 2001, at the age of 100 years, 153 days. This means that from the death of American diver Hal Haig Prieste on April 15, 2001 until her own, she was the oldest living Olympian.

That is all we have for today, but we will be trying to catch up on our blog posts, so we hope that you will join us again soon!