Today on Oldest Olympians, we want to expand our earlier entry on Canadian and Australian Olympic mysteries by focusing on those who were born in 1931, but for whom we have no evidence of being deceased or alive recently. Thanks to some excellent research by Connor Mah and Rob Gilmore, we have only two Canadians and two Australians to cover in this post, so let’s get right to it.
Donald Sanderlin – Member of Canada’s shooting delegation to the 1968 and 1972 Summer Olympics
We actually have plenty of information on Donald Sanderlin, who represented Canada in the skeet tournament at the 1968 and 1972 Summer Olympics, placing 15th and 50th respectively. He also competed at the 1967, 1971, and 1975 Pan American Games and held numerous domestic and American honors. By career he worked as an electrician and continued in this profession, and his shooting career, through the 1980s. The only two pieces of information that we do not know are his year of birth and whether or not he is still alive. We believe that he was born on February 26, 1931, but other sources have 1933 as a year of birth, and we have not been able to find anything recent to confirm his living status.
William West – Member of Canada’s sailing delegation to the 1960 and 1964 Summer Olympics
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we do know William West’s birthday, December 1, 1931, but not much else about him. At the Games, he represented Canada in Star class sailing in 1960 and 1964, placing 23rd and 7th respectively. Despite having appeared at two editions, we have been unable to uncover much more about him, including if and when he died, perhaps due to his relatively popular name.
(Bill Jones, pictured on the left at the website of the Fairfield Canoe Club)
Bill Jones – Member of Australia’s canoeing delegation to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics
We believe that we may have a similar problem with Bill Jones, born February 14, 1931, who represented Australia in canoeing at the 1956 Melbourne Games, placing fifth in the C-2 1000 and seventh in the C-2 10000. We believe that his full name may be William Thomas Jones, but this has done little to help us track him, or people who might have more information on him, down.
(Cliff Sander, seated second from the right, at The Grassroots Football Project)
Cliff Sander – Member of Australia’s football squad at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics
Cliff Sander, born November 4, 1931, was a member of the Australian football team that was eliminated by India in the quarterfinals of the tournament at the 1956 Melbourne Games, after defeating Japan 2-0 in round one. Domestically, Sander played for St. Helens of Queensland from 1950 through 1957 but, despite being inducted into the Football Federation Australia Hall of Fame in 1999, we know little about his later life.
While we do not have a lot of information on most of today’s Olympians, we do have some updates on previously-featured ones. Most recently, we learned that field hockey player Ian Johnston, born March 4, 1929, who was featured as a Canadian Olympic mystery a few months ago, was actually still alive at the time, but sadly died on December 11 at the age of 91. Connor Mah also solved several other mysteries: four-time Canadian Olympic speed skater Ralf Olin, born April 12, 1925, died May 25, 2007 and three-time British Olympic sport shooter Joe Wheater, born October 6, 1918, died November 24, 2011. From other sources, we learned that three-time Dutch Olympic sailor Ben Verhagen, born September 29, 1926, died January 4, 2020 and Pawel K. gave us updates on two of our Olympians who had not been heard from since 2010: Swiss alpine skier Silvia Glatthard, born March 11, 1930, was still alive at least in 2012, but unfortunately Italian gymnast Silvio Brivio, born November 6, 1929, died in 2011. We truly appreciate all of the tips that have been sent our way!
That is a lot of information for one day, so we will stop here, but we have got much more to come and hope that you will join us again!