July 2020 Updates

We have had a lot to report on at Oldest Olympians this month, and thus we are a little behind on our blogging schedule. We wanted to start catching up today by providing updates on some of the cases that we have covered in the past.

(Charles Dewachtere, as pictured in his obituary)

The case that spurred our desire to post about this topic was that of Belgian marathon runner Charles Dewachtere, born December 22, 1927. Dewachtere’s brief running career began in 1949 and culminated in 1952, when he was crowned the Belgian national marathon champion. This led to his participation at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics where, despite having had one of the fastest times that year, he placed 18th due to an injury suffered shortly before the Games. He received a 30-month prison sentence for an altercation that he was involved in shortly after his Olympic appearance, and this effectively ended his athletic career.

We posted about Dewachtere in May 2018, since we had last heard of his being alive in 2007, which was just at the limit of when we would note someone as living on our lists. Unfortunately, we never received any additional updates and thus removed him from the tables. As it turns out, he was still alive, but he died this July 22, at the age of 92.

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

A much more recent case was that of Canadian cyclist Fred Markus, born June 26, 1937. Markus had a successful cycling career that culminated in his appearance at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, where he competed in three events. Despite being at the peak of his career, Markus seemed to vanish after his participation in the 1959 Pan American Games. Frequent contributor Connor Mah, however, was able to track him down and learn that he moved to Australia in 1963, where he worked as an industrial engineer. Happily, Markus is still alive and well, although he is a few years shy of being one of the Oldest Olympians. Nonetheless, we look forward to celebrating his 90th birthday in the future!

Next, we were able to resolve the case of the two Olympic Ahmed Labidis, one who represented France in the 10,000 metres race in 1952 and one who represented Tunisia in the marathon in 1960. As we suspected, these two individuals were in fact one person: Mohamed Ali Ahmed Labidi Ben Dali, who was born April 19, 1923 and died July 17, 2008. Thanks to information from his daughter, who responded to our blog post, we were able to solve this mystery.

We also uncovered more information about Hans Frischknecht, born December 31, 1922, who represented Switzerland in the marathon at the 1948 London Olympics and was a non-starter in 1952. We had speculated originally that he may have died in 2001, but recently we discovered his obituary, which demonstrated that he died August 9, 2003, at the age of 80.

Just as we were writing this entry, we received an additional update. We had in the past come up against many false leads for Ken Box, born December 1, 1930, who represented Great Britain in athletics at the 1956 Melbourne Games. Thanks to a comment on our blog from one of his children, however, we learned that he is still alive and living in Australia.

(Leo Wery)

Finally, we were able to solve some of our previous Olympic medal mysteries. We discovered that Ivano Fontana, born November 25, 1926, who won a bronze medal for Italy in middleweight boxing at the 1948 London Games, died December 24, 1993. In the case of Leonard Wery, born March 27, 1926, who won a silver medal for the Netherlands at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, he was alive when last we posted about him, but we uncovered an obituary for him dying August 29, 2019 at the age of 93.

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