We have a quick post today for the Oldest Olympians blog, concerning the French gymnastics team at the 1948 London Games. When considering Olympic mysteries, we usually run into cases that come from before World War II, when the proceedings and competitors were often less well-documented. Today, however, we are going to look into the case of the 1948 competitor listed on Olympedia as “F. Vailee”.
(A picture of the 1948 French Olympic women’s gymnastics team, from Journal Le Petit Corse)
There was only a single gymnastics event for women contested at the 1948 London Olympics: the team all-around. France finished 10th out of the 11 teams, with only the Belgians faring worse. The competitor known as “F. Vailee” was one of the more successful members of the squad, yet she remains the only one about whom we know nothing. In fact, it seems that even what very little we have on her name is likely incorrect.
Research into French archives by Connor Mah has indicated that she was from Louveciennes and was active nationally from around 1947 through 1951, also representing her country internationally in 1949 in Italy. Her surname is given as Valle, Delle Valle, and Vallée, which was apparently her maiden name, although we do not have any clues regarding her age. The best candidate that he was able to uncover was a Carole or Caroline Della Valle of Belfort who was active in the sport in 1943, but this is far from a certain candidate. It does, however, raise the possibility that she was either foreign-born or born to a recently-immigrated family in France.
And that is really all we have. It seems unusual to have a postwar competitor whose very name eludes is, but she is not even the only French Olympian from 1948 where we lack this basic information. Perhaps we will cover some of the other nameless competitors in a future post but, whatever we bring you next, we hope that you will join us again!