1928 Chilean Olympic Mysteries

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to cover some Chilean Olympic mysteries from the 1928 Amsterdam Games that we have not yet addressed and for whom we cannot prove definitively that they are deceased (although, given their age, all of them almost certainly are). Chile may be one of the more unexpected nations to have participated in such an early edition and, as such, they have been understudied in the field of Olympic history.

Germán Schüler – Member of Chile’s swimming delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

Chile nominated five swimmers to the 1928 Amsterdam Games, but Germán Schüler is the only one for whom we neither have clues to his identity nor have covered in the past. Schüler was eliminated in round one of the 100 metres freestyle event and was also part of the 4×200 metres freestyle relay team that did not start the competition. A student at Universidad de Chile, he is likely too old to be alive (one of his teammates, Faelo Zúñiga, was born in 1909, for example), but we have no additional information on him or the dates of death for any of his teammates. For one, Mario Astaburuaga, we suspect that he may be the Mario Astaburuaga Ariztia, born July 4, 1904, who died in 1951, but we cannot be certain.

(Óscar Alvarado)

Óscar Alvarado and Rodolfo Wagner – Members of Chile’s track athletics delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

On the other hand, we know much more about Chile’s track and field athletics delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Games, but some names still elude us. Both Óscar Alvarado and Rodolfo Wagner were eliminated in round one of the 100 metres and were members of the 4×100 metres relay that did not start the event. Wagner was also a non-starter in the 200 metres, while Alvarado was eliminated in the qualifying round of the long jump. Wagner was still competing in 1930 but, aside from this, we know nothing about either of their lives.

Jorge Gamboa – Member of Chile’s cycling delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

Jorge Gamboa represented Chile in the team pursuit, 4,000 metres event at the 1928 Amsterdam Games, where he was eliminated in round one. He is the only member of the four-man team about whom we know nothing. While we have full biographical data on Edmond Maillard, we know only that Alejandro Vidal was born in 1897 and that Carlos Rocuant died in October 1966.

José Turra – Member of Chile’s boxing delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

Finally, we have José Turra, who represented Chile in the flyweight boxing division at the 1928 Amsterdam Games and was eliminated in round one. While he did go on to have a professional boxing career, we have been unable to uncover any of his biographical details.

While we are on the topic of boxers from Latin America, we also wanted to raise the case of Olver Silva, a reserve boxer from Argentina in the bantamweight competition. The man who actually competed in that tournament, 15 year-old Carmelo Robledo, would go on to win a gold medal as a featherweight at the 1932 Los Angeles Games, but we know nothing about Silva.

Three April 18 Birthdays!

Today on Oldest Olympians, we had three important birthdays to celebrate and, since we could not decide on who to feature, we have decided to mention all three on the blog!

(Anna Van Marcke, pictured at Kortrijk)

First is Belgian canoeist Anna Van Marcke, who turns 98 today! Van Marcke represented her country in the K-1 500 metres event at the 1948 London Olympics, where she finished seventh among ten entrants. This was her most significant international appearance, and she later married her trainer and fellow Olympian Jozef Massy, who lived to be 96 himself. It is Van Marcke, however, who is currently Belgium’s oldest living Olympian.

Next is American ice hockey player Arnie Oss, who turns 94 today! Oss represented his country in the tournament at the 1952 Oslo Games, where the United States won the silver medal. Although this was his only international appearance, domestically he played for Dartmouth College. He is now the oldest living Olympic ice hockey medalist.

Finally, we have Swedish biathlete Klas Lestander, who turns 91 today! Lestander represented his country in the biathlon at the 1960 Squaw Valley Games, where he won the gold medal. Despite this success, his only other major international appearance came at the 1961 World Championships, where he was ninth individually but took bronze with the team, and he never won a national championship. He is now the oldest living Olympic biathlon champion.

1928 French Olympic Mysteries

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to briefly cover some French Olympic mysteries from the 1928 Amsterdam Games that we have not yet addressed. There is a lot of missing data on French Olympians from these Games, but over the years we have covered many of them on this blog, or at least mentioned them in passing. Today we wanted to bring up those names that we have not addressed and for whom we cannot prove definitively that they are deceased (although, given their age, all of them almost certainly are). As we have very little information on these individuals outside of their Olympic participation, we will touch upon each athlete only briefly.

(From left to right, Joseph Berthet, Marius Berthet, and Joseph Vuillard)

Beginning with France’s coxed eights rowing squad, there are three members about whom we know nothing: Joseph Vuillard and Marius and Joseph Berthet. All three were members of Rowing Club d’Aix-les-Bains, like the rest of their teammates and we presume that there is some relationship between the Berthets, but we do not know what it is. One suggestion for Vuillard’s identity is Lucien Joseph Vuillard, born August 9, 1907 in Germagnat and died February 4, 1977 in Chambéry, but we have no proof that this individual is the Olympian.

The field hockey team is missing even more biographical details on its members, with many individuals having only their clubs as potential identifying information: Pierre de Lévaque, Jacques Rivière (Racing CF), Maurice Lanet (Golfer’s Club), Jacques Simon (Stade français), and Charles Six (Lille MHC). For some of the alternates on that squad, we do not even have their full names: A. Bié (UAI Paris), M. L. Guirard, and J. Rémusat (Stade français).

(Georges Leroux)

Modern pentathlon is another sport with an unidentified non-starter: G. H. Bellut. One of the actual competitors from France, meanwhile, also remains a mystery: Lieutenant Pierre Coche, who placed 29th. Similarly, gymnastics has two French mysteries: André Chatelaine (listed previously as Antoine Chatelaine) and Eugène Schmitt (listed previously as Étienne Schmitt). For a third member, Georges Leroux, we know only that he was born in 1907 in Pirmasens, Rheinland-Pfalz, and was a member of SGS Union Haguenau.

(Henri Rivère, pictured at france bleu)

Finally, we have four individuals from other sports who remain mysterious. Henri Deniel was eliminated in the quarter-finals of the middleweight, freestyle wrestling tournament, but later won bronze and silver in that division in 1929 and 1933 respectively at the European Championships. Hubert Guyard was eliminated in round one of the tandem sprint, 2000 metres cycling competition and was a member of the Vélo Club de Levallois. Henri Rivère placed 10th in the featherweight weightlifting category, but had a much more successful domestic career with US Tours. Jean Pierre Rouanet was a member of the 6 metres-class crew that sailed the Cupidon Viking to an eighth-place finish in Amsterdam and is the only one from that boat for whom we lack biographical details.

Fernando Rojas

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to take a quick look at an Olympian whom we are missing just a little bit of information on: Mexican basketball player Fernando Rojas. Rojas, along with his brother José, was a member of Mexico’s basketball squads at the 1948 and 1952 Summer Olympics, with his country losing the bronze medal match in the former tournament and being eliminated in round one in the latter tournament. The duo also won gold medals at the 1946 and 1950 Central American and Caribbean Games.

(Rojas, pictured at Gobierno De Tehuacán Puebla)

We originally listed Fernando with a date of birth of August 2, 1923, but this seemed likely to be an error, as José is listed with a date of birth of November 9, 1923. Research by Connor Mah demonstrated that José had the correct date of birth, with Fernando having been born 1921 instead. For the most part, however, this is where the trail on both Olympians ends.

Mah was, however, able to locate a Facebook post demonstrating the Fernando was still alive in 2012 but, since then, we have not seen any updates. Normally, 2012 would still be within the realm (barely) of when we list someone as alive, but since Rojas would be almost 102 now, and we have seen no mention of his 100th birthday, we have not added him to our lists. Thus, it is possible that he is still alive and over the age of 100, but we do not know for certain.

Finally, in an update from a previous post, we were able to confirm that Mexican water polo player Juan Trejo, born May 12, 1927, coincidentally in the same city as the Rojas brothers, did die on November 6, 2012 in Mexico City.

1928 Japanese Rowing Delegation

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to continue our examination into the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics by looking into Japan’s rowing delegation to those Games. While we know a fair bit about the team as a whole that attended this edition, the rowers are mysterious to the point that, aside from their affiliation, we do not know anything about any of them! As you might suspect, therefore, this will be a relatively short blog entry.

All but one of the six Japanese rowers at the Games competed in the coxed fours. The lone exception was Kinichiro Ishii of the Tokyo Rowing Club. He competed in the single sculls, but was unable to complete his round one heat and was therefore eliminated from the competition.

The coxed fours squad fared little better, losing its round one heat to upcoming bronze medalist Poland and its repêchage to the United States. Of the five members, all we know is that Isamu Takashima of Waseda University is definitely deceased and the other four almost certainly are. All were affiliated with Universities: Makoto Tsushida and Tsukasa Sonobe with the University of Tokyo, Hachiro Sato with Nihon University, and Kazuo Nose with Meiji University. There were also two alternates with the team, Yioshiaki Hamada of Tokyo Higher Normal School and H. Sugawara of Tokyo Tech. Sugawara’s full name in Japanese is 菅原 兵衞, but we are uncertain as to the proper transliteration.

(Geoff Heskett)

We would be remiss not to mention one more rower from the 1928 coxed fours tournament that is somewhat of a mystery: Monaco’s Louis Giobergia. While we know all the biographical data for the rest of his squad, his has eluded us. Finally, we wanted to thank David Clark, who forwarded us confirmation that Australian basketball player Geoff Heskett, born August 3, 1929, whom we had last heard from in 2011, is still alive.