One Week of Updates

Oldest Olympians will be travelling with limited internet connectivity for the next week so, rather than miss an update, we have decided to post a blog entry today that will cover one Olympian for every day that we suspect we will be absent (February 25 – March 3).

During that time, there is only one milestone birthday, but it is a particularly important one: Willi Büsing, the oldest living German Olympian, will be turning 102 on March 2! Büsing is the last surviving member of the German three-day eventing team that won a silver medal at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and he played a key role in this success, as he was the highest-ranked German in the individual event, placing third and taking the individual bronze medal. He also won a silver medal in the team event at the 1954 European Championships and later became involved in sports administration. Most notably, he acted as team coach and veterinarian at the 1956, 1960, and 1964 Summer Games. He now resides in his hometown of Jade and is also the oldest living Olympic equestrian.

For the remaining entries, we want to acknowledge some Olympians who have died in the past year. First, French modern pentathlete Christian Beauvalet, born December 18, 1929, died July 23, 2022 at the age of 93. Beauvalet represented his country at the 1960 Rome Games, placing 15th with the French team and 45th individually. He was the French national champion that year and later worked as a fencing instructor.

Next, Bulgarian gymnast Mincho Todorov, born December 26, 1931, died August 2, 2022 at the age of 90. Todorov represented his country in two editions of the Games, 1952 and 1956, with a best finish of joint-sixth in the floor exercise in the latter edition. He was also ninth with the Bulgarian team in 1952. After winning several national titles between 1948 and 1954, he moved to Mexico and spent the rest of his life there as a gymnastics coach and administrator.

(Aino Autio, pictured at Helsingin Sanomat)

Then, Finnish track athlete Aino Autio, born January 4, 1932, died November 17, 2022 at the age of 90. Autio represented her country in the 80 metres hurdles and the 4×100 metres relay at the 1952 Helsinki Games, but was eliminated in the first round of both events. The 1951 Finnish national champion in the former event, she later worked as a teacher.

Just at the end of 2022, French weightlifter Pierre Bouladou, born November 18, 1925, died December 29 at the age of 97. Bouladou represented his country in the middleweight tournament at the 1948 London Games, where he placed sixth. This did make him, however, the top-placed European in this event at the Olympics.

(Nikos Chatzigiakoumis, pictured at Rodiaki)

At the beginning of 2023, Greek rower Nikos Chatzigiakoumis, born in 1930, died on January 2 at the age of either 92 or 93. Chatzigiakoumis represented his country in the single sculls at the 1956 Melbourne Games, where he was eliminated in the round one repêchage. He eventually settled in Australia and competed in masters-level rowing tournaments.

(Bruce Sharp, pictured at Gymnastics Victoria)

Finally, Australian gymnast Bruce Sharp, born March 24, 1931, died January 12 at the age of 91. Sharp represented his country in the tournament at the 1956 Melbourne Games, where he was seventh in the team all-around and had a best individual finish of joint-28th in the horse vault.

The tables will not be updated during our absence, but we look forward to returning on March 4 to continue cover the Oldest Olympians! We hope that you will join us!

Růžena Košťálová

Today on Oldest Olympians we want to celebrate the birthday of Růžena Košťálová of Czechoslovakia, who we believe to be turning 99 as the oldest living Olympic canoeist. We have still not resolved our uncertainty from last year, however, as to whether or not that is actually the case.

Košťálová was one half of the silver medal-winning Czechoslovakian team in the Kayak Doubles, 500 metres event at the 1948 World Championships, which led to her selection to represent the country at that year’s Olympic Games in the Kayak Singles, 500 metres. Although she won her heat in the opening round, she finished fifth in the final. Having already won 12 national titles in the sport, she retired from active competition shortly thereafter and eventually moved to Switzerland with her family in 1968.

We based our belief that she is still alive on this 2020 document from the Czech Olympic Committee. A comprehensive 2021 work by František Kolář, however, Encyklopedie olympioniků. Čeští a českoslovenští sportovci na olympijských hrác, lists her, on page 178, as having died in January 2013. Both sources seem very reliable, and thus it is plausible that either are mistaken, so we have continued to list her as alive, although we cannot be entirely certain. Were Košťálová deceased, however, then Cees Koch of the Netherlands, born December 30, 1925, would be the oldest living Olympic canoeist.

(Rojas, pictured at Gobierno De Tehuacán Puebla)

We did, however, just receive an update on an Olympian that we have covered in the past: Mexican basketball player Fernando Rojas, born August 2, 1921, did not make it to the age of 100 – he died on December 26, 2016 at the age of 95. Additionally, judoka Aurelio Chu Yi, born January 31, 1929, whom we believed to be the oldest living Panamanian Olympian, actually died July 4, 1998 and the reports of his still being alive were incorrect. Finally, we have updates on two Olympic medal mysteries: Uruguayan bronze medal-winning basketball player Ramiro Cortés, born in 1931, died April 23, 1977, while German bronze medal-winning field hockey player Günther Brennecke died February 25, 2014.