Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to provide a quick update on one of our associated projects: the historical list of Olympic centenarians. The list, which can be found here, has had several additions over the past year, in addition to the five Olympians that have (thus far) turned 100 in 2021. We thought it prudent, therefore, to draw some attention to some of the names that have been added that have not yet received any attention.
First, however, wanted to address a surprising removal. We have long listed French gymnast Lucien Démanet, born December 6, 1874, as having died March 16, 1979 at the age of 104 years, 100 days. Démanet won bronze medals in both of the editions that he competed in, individually in 1900 and with the team in 1920, and his lifespan made him the last survivor that we knew of from the former edition. Recent research, however, had indicated that Démanet actually died June 20, 1943 and was therefore never among the oldest Olympians. This leaves Max Décugis, who won a silver medal in doubles tennis in 1900, as the last known survivor of those Games, having died September 6, 1978 at the age of 95. It also means that American gymnast Rudy Schrader was the oldest living Olympian following the death of artist Mary Wesselhoeft on March 23, 1971, holding that title for nearly a decade!
Speaking of last survivor lists, back in April we learned that French athlete Émile Papot was born August 19, 1885 and died April 16, 1986, at the age of 100 years, 240 days. Papot was entered into the high and long jump events at the 1906 Intercalated Games, but only competed in the former, failing to finish in the top eight. Having outlived Turkish athlete Vahram Papazyan by a month, however, he has now became the last known survivor of that edition, as well as the only known centenarian from those Games.
(Francesco Pittaluga, seated center, in a picture from Tuttolevante.it)
Just this week, meanwhile, we learned of a centenarian that had gone completely under our radar: Italian rower Francesco Pittaluga, born October 11, 1913, who died February 10, 2016 at the age of 102 years, 122 days. Pittaluga represented his country in the coxed fours event at the 1936 Berlin Games, just missing the podium in fourth. He had better luck at the 1938 European Championships, where he won the silver medal. We have also learned of a centenarian among Olympic referees. Norwegian skiing referee Wilhelm Nilssen, born March 27, 1915, died on November 10, 2018 at the age of 103 years, 228 days. In addition to being a referee for both Nordic combined and ski jumping events at the 1972 Sapporo Games, he had a distinguished career as a resistance fighter during World War II.
We have one more potential centenarian for 2021, Italian gymnast Elda Cividino, born December 13, 1921. Unfortunately, we have not had an update on her since 2013, and thus it remains to be seen if she is still living. After that, we will be moving into 2022, where we have 11 individuals listed as potentially turning 100. We hope, therefore, that you will join us for more to come!