Fred Markus

Our blog post for the day concerns a Canadian Olympian who, having been born in 1937, is a little younger than we might normally feature on Oldest Olympians. He was, however, forwarded to us by Connor Mah, who has been infinitely helpful in solving the cases of numerous Olympians, including many of those we have featured previously on this blog. Moreover, as we hope that you will agree, he certainly qualifies as an Olympic Mystery.

(Fred Markus, pictured in the July 3, 1954 edition of the Vancouver Sun)

Alfred H. Markus, born June 26, 1937, entered the Canadian cycling scene as a teenager in the early 1950s and first represented Canada internationally in 1956, before reaching the age of 20, at the Melbourne Olympics, failing to complete the road race and being eliminated in the round one repêchage.

(Markus, second from left, on his way to the Olympics, as pictured in the November 14, 1956 edition of The Province)

Markus’ next major stop was the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, where he was eighth in a field of 26 competitors in the 1 km time trial. He then travelled to the 1959 Pan-American Games, where he was 12th in the kilometre time trial and eliminated in the round one repêchage final. Nonetheless, he seemed to be entering the prime of his career, but it is here where he simply vanishes from the record.

Despite some thorough searches, Mah was unable to find any trace of his activities, sporting or otherwise, following this event, leaving us able only to speculate as to what might have happened. Some of the more likely events include him changing his name or moving to another country, but even these usually leave some trace. In fact, even during his career he seemed to be absent from Toronto City Directories, suggesting perhaps an issue with his surname. The best evidence that could be found was that he might have had some connection to Belgium, but even that is tenuous.

On perhaps a more positive note, Mah was able to solve the case of American gold medal-winning swimmer Eugene R. Rogers, born February 17, 1924, whom we profiled in an earlier blog. He was able to confirm through cemetery records that Rogers did in fact die on December 30, 2017.

Updates on Past Cases

Today on the Oldest Olympians blog, we wanted to provide our readers with updates to several cases that we have discussed in the past, but have now been resolved. This inspiration for this post comes from Gulu Ezekiel, who was able to confirm that Lavy Pinto, who represented India in two track events at the 1952 Helsinki Games, and whom we profiled recently, did in fact die on February 15 at the age of 90.

These new updates come thanks to the diligent work of Connor Mah and Rob Gilmore, who were able to not only confirm the details of some of our past cases, but uncover a plethora of biographical data for many lesser-known Olympians as well (but that is, perhaps, for another blog post). In one case, they even preempted one of our long-term mysteries, that of Canadian boxer Roy Keenan. Keenan, born August 26, 1930, represented Canada in light-welterweight boxing at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where he was eliminated in the first round by Piet van Klaveren of the Netherlands. We had long known about an obituary for a Roy Keenan who died May 21, 2003 that contained insufficient identifying details, and were planning to feature him in a blog post after the 90th anniversary of his birth. Just recently, however, Mah was able to confirm that this was indeed the Olympic boxer.

One case that we have featured in the past that was solved by Mah and Gilmore was that of Jacques Carbonneau, born May 11, 1928, who represented Canada as one of the nation’s two cross-country skiers at the 1952 Oslo Olympics, where he finished 70th in the 18 km event. Through their research, they were able to confirm that an obituary in the March 15, 2007 edition of La Presse, stating that a Jacques Carbonneau, born in 1928, had died two days earlier, was in fact that of the Olympian.

Mah also pointed us in the direction of Carl Horn, son of Olympic fencer Alf Horn, who took part in five events at the 1948 London Games. As it turns out, from a communication with Carl, the Alf Horn who died in August 1978 was not the Olympian – the Olympic Alf Horn died April 5, 1991 in Montreal, which demonstrates that even when the evidence seems convincing, it is often important to get further confirmation.

Finally, a small update to one of our more popular stories, that of Canadian ski jumper Bob Lymburne, is that we were able to confirm from a relative that the story of him walking off into the woods and (presumably) dying was in fact true. While we were unable to ascertain a precise date (or even year), confirmation of the story brings us one step closer to solving that mystery. We hope that you have found these updates useful and interesting, and that you will join us again next week as we look into more Olympic mysteries!

Sigurður Jónsson

Today on Oldest Olympians we are going to address a mystery that was solved recently by one of the OlyMADMen, Martin Kellner. It involves Sigurður Jónsson, who competed in the 200 metres breaststroke swimming event at the 1948 London Olympics. Both of them.

(Sigurður Jónsson of Ystafell, pictured in his 2003 obituary)

The 200 metres breaststroke swimming competition at the 1948 London Games featured two men named Sigurður Jónsson, both representing Iceland and both appearing exclusively in this event. The younger of the two was born July 23, 1924 in Ystafell and was an educator by career. He survived to the semi-finals at the 1948 Olympics and became Nordic champion in the same event the following year. He died on March 13, 2003, at the age of 78.

(Sigurður Jónsson of Reykjavík, pictured in his 2019 obituary)

The older of the two was born December 20, 1922 in Reykjavík and was the first Icelandic man to reach the finals at the European Swimming Championships, which he did in 1947. He went on to represent his country at the 1948 London Olympics, but was eliminated in the first round of the 200 metres breaststroke.

In terms of relevance to Oldest Olympians, this Sigurður Jónsson died April 21, 2019, at the age of 96. This makes him the longest-lived Olympian from Iceland and means that Finnbjörn Þorvaldsson, who we featured several times on our site, was never actually the oldest living Icelandic Olympian. We made this in error in large part due to the confusion between these two individuals, so we hope that our brief post here helps clear matters up!

The First Black Olympian

Given current events, we here at Oldest Olympians felt that we could provide an infinitesimal contribution in emphasizing Black Lives Matter by producing a quick blog on the topic of the first black Olympian. Conveniently enough, it just so happens that this fits the theme of Olympic mysteries. If one were to perform an internet search on this topic, the answer you would likely find is that Constantin Henriquez was the first black Olympian, and that would be correct. Somewhat.

Most sources would list this individual’s full name as Constantin Francisco Henríquez de Zubiría, who won a gold medal in rugby, as well as a silver medal in the tug-of-war, at the 1900 Paris Olympics. While photographs from the rugby tournament show a black athlete, however, those from the tug-of-war competition do not. Realizing this discrepancy led the OlyMADMen to discover that these records were actually discussing two different individuals.

(Francisco Henríquez de Zubiría)

Thanks to assistance from Spanish Olympic historian Fernando Arrechea, it is now believed that the tug-of-war competitor was Francis Henriquez de Zubiría, born December 10, 1869 in Paris and died September 2, 1933. Until a 1917 naturalization, however, Zubiría was a Colombian, which makes him the first representative from that country at the Olympics. You can read a little more about him at his now-public OlyMADMen profile.

(Constantin Henriquez)

So who was the first black Olympian then? That distinction goes to Constantin Henriquez, who won a gold medal in 1900 Olympic rugby tournament, thus also making him the first black Olympic champion. As a competitor, however, he is credited as being a representative of Haiti, thus making the 1900 Olympic rugby squad a “mixed” team rather than just a “French” one. Henriquez was also a track and field athlete, introduced football to Haiti in 1904, and founded the Union Sportive Haïtienne with his brother Alphonse (who would later take part in the music competitions at the 1932 Los Angeles Games). Constantin later studied medicine and was a doctor by profession. We are not yet certain, but we believe, according to Haiti’s civil registration, that he was born c. 1880 and died February 1, 1942 in Port-au-Prince.

Two Recent Deaths

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to take a quick look at the claimed recent deaths of two nonagenarian Olympians for whom we cannot locate obituaries. As usual, we do not have a particular reason to disbelieve the reports, but we also cannot confirm that they are true, so we are sharing this information with the community in the hopes that we may be able to learn more.

(Lavy Pinto, pictured in an article from

Lavy Pinto – Member of India’s track and field athletics delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Lavy Pinto, born October 23, 1929, represented India in track at the 1952 Helsinki Games, reaching the semifinals of both the 100 and 200 metres events. This was no fluke for Pinto, as he had been the champion in those competitions at the 1951 Asian Games, where he had also taken silver in the 4×100 metres relay. He had one more successful year in his sport and then retired in 1954. He eventually moved to Chicago in 1969, where he was still living half a century later. Someone claiming to be a family member stated that he died February 15 of this year in that city, but they did not reply to our request for more information and, as we could not locate an obituary either, we cannot confirm that he is deceased.

Louis Baise – Member of South Africa’s wrestling delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

At the same Games attended by Pinto, Louis Baise, born May 4, 1927, represented South Africa in the flyweight, freestyle wrestling tournament, where he survived until round four and placed sixth overall. At every other major international tournament he attended, however, he won gold: the 1950 and 1953 Maccabiah Games and the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. Following the latter competition, we had no additional information on his life and, unlike Pinto, we were not aware of his having been alive past his 90th birthday. An anonymous user on Wikipedia, however, claimed that Baise died last month, on May 11, but we have been unable to verify that this is true.

That is all for today, just a short entry to further our goal of research transparency. We aim to have another blog entry next week, so we hope that you will join us! We are also interested in hearing if there are any Oldest Olympians-related topics that you would like covered; if so, let us know in the comments. We are always willing to consider ideas for new blog posts!