We have another quick post today on Oldest Olympians. Until recently, we listed Felix Würth, born August 11, 1923, as the oldest living Austrian Olympian. This was based on a report from late 2012 that listed him as alive and living in Ontario, Canada, but we had not seen an update since. Recently, however, we removed him from our tables on credible, albeit yet unproven, evidence that he may have died, and we wanted to dedicate a little space to explaining that decision.
First, a little background, as Würth was no marginal athlete. His domestic career in Austria began after World War II and, from 1947 through 1952, he won a total of 21 national titles: four in the 4×100 relay, four in the 4×400 relay, five in the long jump, six in the triple jump, and two in the decathlon. He competed in both the long and triple jump at the 1948 and 1952 Summer Olympics, and was eliminated in the first round of all events except the long jump in 1948, where he placed eighth. He also represented Austria at the 1950 European Championships, finishing 13th in the triple jump and being eliminated in the qualifications for the long jump.
Würth married Lotte Haidegger, herself an accomplished track and field Olympian. She won Austrian titles in the shot put, discus throw (twice), and pentathlon, and was eighth in the discus at the 1950 European Championships. In both 1948 and 1952 she placed fifth in the Olympic discus tournament, and she was also entered in the shot put in 1952, although she did not start. After retiring from active competition, the couple eventually moved to Canada, and Haidegger was listed as deceased in the 2012 update on Würth.
This was the basis of our listing Würth as alive, although we also noted that a “Felix Wuerth” was listed as living in Guelph, Ontario at the same address as the retirement home that published the update. Public records, of course, may be slow to update, and recently an anonymous user on Wikipedia claimed that Würth died February 25, 2014. This user also noted that Haidegger died February 14, 2004 in Puslinch Township, Ontario. None of this information conflicts with what we know for certain but, unfortunately, even with such specific data we were unable to locate corresponding proof of these claims. We do, however, suspect that it is accurate, hence our removal of Würth from our lists. Until we uncover more evidence, however, this will remain a small Olympic mystery.
(Franz Zigon, pictured at the age of 94, at Nachrichten)
All of this means that the oldest known Austrian Olympian is now Franz Zigon, born March 9, 1924, who recently turned 97. Zigon represented his country in the water polo tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where Austria was eliminated after the preliminary round. Unlike with Würth, we have much more documentation that Zigon is alive (and active in swimming!).