1928 Swiss Olympic Mysteries

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to cover the remainder of the Swiss 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). Today we are finalizing our series from the past two weeks.

A good place to start would be water polo, where we have full biographical details for only one of the seven members of the team: three-time Olympian Robert Wyss. For a second, Othmar Schmalz, we are missing only his place of death, and for another, two-time Olympian Fernand Moret, we know that he was born January 15, 1905 and died sometime in 1982 in Geneva. Another two-time Olympian, Robert Mermoud, was born September 25, 1908, while for three others, Eric Brochon of Club de Natation Lausanne, Robert Hürlimann of Romanshorn, and Ernest Hüttenmoser of Sankt Gallen, we know nothing at all. Additionally, the team had two reserves, E. Ruchti and E. Tschümperly, for whom we do not even have first names!

There are two additional Swiss reserves for whom we are missing biographical data, the first of whom is Max Thommen who competed in equestrian events. The second is J. Brun, a reserve with the field hockey team, for whom again we do not even have a full name. We have discussed the Swiss field hockey team and the missing data in a previous post, but neglected to mention J. Brun. In fact, field hockey is a sport for which we have many gaps and thus there are always more players to discuss, such as Austrian Emil Haladik of SV Arminen, about whom we also know nothing.

(Hans Gilgen at Cycling Archives)

Returning to Switzerland, however, the last sport we want to look into is track cycling, as we have fairly good information on the road cyclists: only two, Jakob Caironi and Paul Litschi, are missing dates of death. On the track, however, only one, Hans Gilgen, has completed biographical data. We also know that Gustave Moos was born in 1905 and died in December 1948 in Basel, while Willi Knabenhans was born February 15, 1906 in Zurich. For the other two members, Joseph Fischler of VC Basilisk and Erich Fäs, we have no data – in fact, according to Connor Mah, Fäs does not appear to be listed in 1928 newspapers as a member of the Swiss Olympic cycling team!

That is quite a litany of names, but it does complete our look into Switzerland’s delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. If, however, we continue our look into cycling at that edition, we could examine two more individuals. Both Tarchumas Murnikas of Lithuania and Fred Short of South Africa are completely missing biographical data. By mentioning them, we are left with only one country for whom we are missing data from the 1928 Amsterdam Games that we have not engaged previously: Romania. Thus, we will complete our look into this edition by covering them in a forthcoming post.

1928 Swiss Weightlifting Mysteries

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to cover more of the Swiss 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). Today we are going to look at the next large group of competitors: the weightlifters.

Just as with the wrestlers, what we know about the 10 weightlifters that represented Switzerland at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics varies, but not one of them has complete data. The closest is Edmond Donzé, who was 15th and last in the light-heavyweight event, as we have all of his biographical details except for his place of birth. Next closest is Joseph Jaquenoud, who finished fifth and ninth as a lightweight in 1924 and 1928 respectively. We know that he died January 29, 1988 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, but only that he was born around 1901. Otto Garnus, who was 10th in the light-heavyweight competition in 1928, but competed in shot put and discus throw in 1924, would be the bronze medalist for data: he was born c. 1896 and died February 1, 1960.

(Arthur Reinmann)

From there, our knowledge becomes increasingly scarce. Featherweight Arthur Reinmann won a bronze medal in 1924, but slipped down to fifth in 1928. We know that he was born in 1901 and died in 1983, both in Oberaargau, but we have not found the exact dates. For Albert Aeschmann, we have his complete date of birth, August 20, 1900, but nothing else. Aeschmann missed bronze by finishing fourth as a lightweight in 1928, but competed as a middleweight in 1924 and 1936, placing fifth and thirteenth respectively.

For the remaining weightlifters, we have no biographical data at all. The best finisher was Franz Riederer, who was 14th as a heavyweight, the same category in which Walter Gasser of Zurich was 16th. Justin Tissot of Le Locle was also 14th as a featherweight, but he shared that distinction with Aleksander Kask of Estonia. Ernst Trinkler of Thalwil was joint-15th in the middleweight division, with Lithuania’s Povilas Vitonis (another individual about whom we know nothing for certain). Hermann Eichholzer also competed in that event, but did not record a score in the clean and jerk and thus did not place.

Finally, to conclude this entry, we wanted to mention the one Swiss fencer from these Games for whom we have no biographical data: Jean de Bardel. De Bardel was a member of the foil fencing team that was eliminated in the quarter-finals. He was from Geneva, but we otherwise know nothing about him.

1928 Swiss Olympic Wrestling Mysteries

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to cover some Swiss 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). As we have mentioned in the past, Switzerland is unusual in that it is a European nation for whom biographical data is somewhat limited, particularly in the early years. Thus we have more names than usual to cover and must split them up. Today, we are going to focus on the wrestling delegation.

(Ernst Kyburz)

Switzerland was relatively successful in the wrestling tournaments at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. Of its 11 wrestlers, three won medals, although even among the medalists we do not have complete data. For Olympic champion Ernst Kyburz, who won the middleweight, freestyle competition, we are missing his place of birth. For the runner-up in the light-heavyweight division, Arnold Bögli, we know only that he was born on May 30, 1897 and nothing about his later life. Similarly, for Hans Minder, a featherweight, freestyle bronze medalist, we have a date of birth of August 28, 1908 and nothing else. In fact, the only 1928 Swiss wrestler for whom we have complete data is Henri Wernli, who was fifth in the heavyweight, freestyle competition, but had won a silver medal in that event in 1924.

We know nothing about the remaining wrestlers and for only one of them, Fritz Käsermann, who was eliminated in the quarter-finals of the welterweight, freestyle event, do we have certain confirmation that they are deceased. Of the rest, Amedée Piguet of Le Brassus, who took part in the bantamweight, freestyle competition, was arguably the most successful, as he placed sixth, although this is due primarily to the limited number of competitors in his division. Hans Mollet of Biel, who placed seventh in the lightweight, freestyle tournament, might be considered more successful, as he was eliminated in the semi-finals of a much larger pool.

Otto Frei of Schaffhausen, in the middleweight, Greco-Roman competition, was the only other Swiss wrestler to win a bout, ultimately being eliminated in round three. Isidor Bieri (featherweight), Ernst Mumenthaler of Zürich (lightweight), and Max Studer of Tablat (light-heavyweight) were all eliminated after losing two Greco-Roman bouts.

These are enough names to consider for now, but we will raise the remainder of the Swiss cases in a forthcoming post. We do, however, have an update on a Swiss case that we have covered in the past, as we were able to confirm that equestrian Hermann Dür, born June 23, 1925, did die on August 25, 2015.

Henri Niemegeerts

Today on Oldest Olympians we have a quick blog entry, one that concerns an Olympian who may be alive at the age of 100, but we have yet to be able to prove it. The information that we do have comes courtesy of Connor Mah.

Belgian field hockey player Henri Niemegeerts, born February 15, 1922, represented his country in the tournament at the 1948 London Games, where Belgium was eliminated in the preliminary round after losing its matches against the Netherlands and Pakistan, but defeating Denmark and France. Outside of this, we do not know much about him, but he was definitely alive in 2013 according to this report.

After that, the information becomes less clear. There was an individual by this name living in Waterloo, Belgium as recently as 2015 whose biographical details align with the Olympic hockey player. When the Olympian’s wife died in September 2020, her obituary did not designate her as a widow, which is done commonly on the site where her death was announced. Beyond that, we do not have any additional clues, and there has been no announcement of a 100th birthday.

That is all that we have for today, but we did want to point out two recent removals from our lists that we have not yet addressed, as we learned about their deaths a considerable time after they occurred. Danish handballer Poul Winge, born September 13, 1927, who took part in the demonstration tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games, died March 2, 2020 at the age of 92. Indian water polo player David Sopher, born February 1, 1929, who took part in that sport’s tournament at that same edition of the Olympics, died February 14, 2019, shortly after his 90th birthday.