Willi Büsing

Oldest Olympians is saddened to learn that German equestrian Willi Büsing, born March 2, 1921, died June 25 at the age of 102. Büsing represented his country in eventing at the 1952 Helsinki Games, winning silver with the team and bronze individually. 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. At the time of his death, he was the oldest living Olympic equestrian and the oldest living German Olympian. As we have done in the past, we wanted to provide an update on who now holds those titles.

The oldest living German Olympian is now track and field athlete Marianne Werner, born January 4, 1924. Werner represented her country in the shot put and the discus throw at the 1952 and 1956 Summer Olympics, winning silver and bronze in the shot put in those years respectively. In 1958 she won the European Championships in that event and did not retire until the 1960s, after which she became involved in the teaching of sport science.

(Maud von Rosen)

The oldest living Olympic equestrian is now William de Rham, born August 22, 1922, who represented Switzerland in the show jumping tournament at the 1956 Stockholm equestrian Olympics, where he finished joint-19th individually and 9th overall with his team. The oldest living medalist in equestrian, meanwhile, is Sweden’s Maud von Rosen, born December 24, 1925. Van Rosen represented her country in the dressage tournament at the 1972 Munich Games, finishing eighth individually, which helped Sweden take a bronze medal in the team competition. She also earned bronze with the Swedish dressage team a year earlier, at the 1971 European Championships.

(Marjorie Jackson)

Finally, a few days ago, on June 22, we celebrated the 92nd birthday of Australian cyclist Ian Browne, who was the oldest living Australian Olympic champion, having won gold in the tandem sprint, 2000 metres event at the 1956 Melbourne Games. Unfortunately, we have learned that he died two days later, on June 24. This makes Marjorie Jackson, born September 13, 1931, the oldest living Australian Olympic champion. Jackson represented her country in three events at the 1952 Helsinki Games, winning gold in the 100 and 200 metres and placing fifth in the 4×100 metres relay. She also won seven gold medals at the British Empire Games in 1950 and 1954. She later became involved in politics and was appointed governor of South Australia in 2001, serving until 2007.

Two Recent Olympic Medal Mysteries

Today on Oldest Olympians we want to cover two recent Olympic medal mysteries. As a reminder, these are Olympians who won an Olympic medal during their careers, but for whom we have no indication of whether they are alive or deceased as of their 90th birthday.

Teijiro Tanikawa – Member of Japan’s swimming delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Teijiro Tanikawa, born December 20, 1932, represented Japan in the 4×200 metres freestyle relay at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where he won a silver medal. He also competed at the 1954 Asian Games and took gold in that event, in addition to silver in the individual 100 metres freestyle. Aside from this, however, we have been unable to find any additional details about his life, including whether or not he is still alive.

Igor Kashkarov – Member of the Soviet track and field delegation to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics

Igor Kashkarov, born May 5, 1933, represented the Soviet Union in the high jump at the 1956 Melbourne Games, where he won a bronze medal. He also took silver in that event at the 1961 Universiade and was fourth at the 1958 European Championships. Domestically, he was Soviet Champion in 1955 and 1959 and later worked as an athletics coach. Russian Wikipedia has a possible date of death of May 4, 2004, but even that page questions whether or not this is accurate.

Finally, just to finish off our list of mysteries, we wanted to mention the case of Víctor Flores. Flores was a member of Peru’s fencing delegation to the 1936 Berlin Olympics and was entered into the individual sabre competition, but did not start. He did, however, carry his nation’s flag in the opening ceremonies, but we otherwise know little about him. Our research suggests that he is likely Victor Alberto Flores Garrido, born October 15, 1908 in Catacaos and died January 29, 1985 in Lima, but we have been unable to prove this conclusively.

More Updates on the Oldest Olympians

Yesterday on Oldest Olympians, we announced the death of Edna Child, born October 16, 1922, who died in May. At the time of her death, she was the oldest living British Olympian, as well as the oldest living Olympic diver. As we have done in the past, therefore, we wanted to provide an update on who now holds those titles.

The oldest British Olympian is now Jack Whitford, born January 3, 1924, who recently turned 99. Whitford represented Great Britain in the tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where he was 21st with the national team and had a best individual finish of joint-69th in the pommelled horse. He was also chosen to take part in the 1948 London Olympics, but broke his arm prior to the competition and did not take part. His brother, Arthur, was a 10-time national champion, while Jack won three titles. His wife, Pat Evans, was also an Olympic gymnast and lived to be 93.

The oldest living Olympic diver is now Birte Christoffersen-Hanson, born March 28, 1924, who was already the oldest living Olympic medalist in diving, as well as the oldest living Olympian to have won a medal for Denmark. Christoffersen-Hanson represented Denmark as Brite Christoffersen until 1953, including at the 1948 London Olympics, where she won a bronze medal in the platform event. She also took two bronze medals at the 1950 European Championships. From 1954 until her retirement in the 1960s, she represented Sweden as Birte Hanson, appearing twice more at the Olympics (1956 and 1960) and capturing one bronze (1958) and two silver medals (1954) at the European Championships. By career, she worked as a physical education instructor and now resides in Limhamn, Malmö.

Finally, we wanted to raise the case of Abdallah Sidani, born in 1923, whom we have believed to be the oldest living Lebanese Olympian and Olympic wrestler for many years. Unfortunately, we have not heard of any updates since 2015, when he was alive and living in Saudi Arabia and, without any announcement of a 100th birthday, we have decided to remove him from the living list. With weightlifter Moustafa Laham, born October 21, 1929, who lived in the United States and whom we believed for some time to be still alive, having possibly died in August 2014, there is only one Lebanese Olympian remaining on our table: three-time Olympic alpine skier Jean Keyrouz, born in 1931. As for the oldest living Olympic wrestler, that distinction now goes to Pakistan’s Muhammad Ashraf, born October 11, 1927, who competed in the lightweight, freestyle event in 1956.

Swiss Olympic Missing Links

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to look at a few more Olympic mysteries from our list, all of which are competitors who represented Switzerland. As a reminder, these are individuals for whom we believe that we have a date of death, but cannot confirm that the information is accurate or connect it to the Olympian with certainty.

Edgar Juillerat – Member of Switzerland’s weightlifting delegation to the 1924 Paris Olympics

Edgar Juillerat, born in 1887, represented Switzerland in the featherweight weightlifting tournament at the 1924 Paris Games, where he placed eighth. Unfortunately, we do not know anything else about his career or life, so we cannot confirm that the grave in Riehen for an Edgar Juillerat, born March 20, 1887 and died June 30, 1967, is for the Olympian.

Ernst Mumenthaler – Member of Switzerland’s wrestling delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

Ernst Mumenthaler of Zürich represented Switzerland in the lightweight, Greco-Roman wrestling tournament at the 1928 Amsterdam Games, where he lost two bouts in a row and was eliminated after round two. In Mumenthaler’s case, we do not even have an approximate year of birth, although we do know that an Ernst Mumenthaler born in 1902 died in 1985 and may be the Olympian.

Alfred Jauch – Member of Switzerland’s wrestling delegation to the 1948 London Olympics

Alfred Jauch, like Mumenthaler, represented Switzerland as a lightweight, Greco-Roman wrestler, although he did so at the 1948 London Games and withdrew after round one. We know a little bit more about Jauch, however, who was the junior national champion in 1940 and a welterweight senior champion in 1951. We are not certain, however, if the Alfred Jauch born January 14, 1923 and died April 28, 2006, who is buried in Riehen, is the Olympian.

Kugelstosser Willy Senn, 1950 (Photo by RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Willy Senn – Member of Switzerland’s athletics delegation to the 1948 London Olympics

Willy Senn of Basel, born February 25, 1920, represented Switzerland in the shot put at the 1948 London Games, where he placed 13th overall. He also competed in that event at the 1954 European Championships and placed 23rd. A Willy Senn born May 25, 1920 died October 27, 1989 and was buried in Basel, but we cannot yet be certain that this was the Olympian.

Finally, we have only one more Olympic mystery left on our list that we want to share, even though he is not Swiss. Mohamed Zulficar, born September 4, 1918, represented Egypt in five fencing events between two editions of the Games – 1948 and 1952 – with a best finish of fourth in the team foil at the latter edition. He was a silver medalist in the team sabre at the 1951 Mediterranean Games and won six bronze medals at the World Championships between 1947 and 1951. We found a note of gratitude from the family of the late Mohamed Zulficar Bey posted in Al-Ahram on September 24, 1980 but, as we have thus far been unable to locate the actual obituary, we cannot confirm that the deceased was the Olympian, even though it seems likely.

More New Titleholders Among the Oldest Olympians

Recently, we have unfortunately noted the deaths of two more Olympians, Zdeněk Košta and Renyldo Ferreira, who held multiple distinctions among the oldest Olympians. Košta was the oldest living Olympic cyclist and Olympian to have represented Czechoslovakia, while Ferreira was the oldest living Brazilian Olympian and the oldest survivor of the 1960 Rome Games. Given that these titles have now changed hands, we wanted to provide a brief update of who holds them now.

(Charles Coste)

The oldest living Olympic cyclist is now France’s Charles Coste, born February 8, 1924, who recently turned 99. He won gold in the team pursuit, 4000 metres event at the 1948 London Games and was already the oldest living French Olympic medalist and the oldest living Olympic cycling medalist. The oldest living Olympian to have represented Czechoslovakia is trickier. Růžena Košťálová, born February 21, 1924, is still alive according to 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, thus we have continued to list her as alive, although we cannot be entirely certain. If Košťálová were deceased, however, then 1952 gymnast Jindřich Mikulec, born May 11, 1928, would be the oldest living Olympian to have represented Czechoslovakia.

(Birte Christoffersen)

The oldest survivor of the 1960 Rome Games, meanwhile, is now Birte Christoffersen, born March 28, 1924, who represented Denmark in diving in 1948, winning a bronze medal on the platform, and then Sweden in 1956 and 1960. She is the oldest living Olympic medalist in diving, as well as the oldest living Olympian to have won a medal for Denmark. The oldest living Brazilian Olympian is Edson Perri, born June 5, 1928, who represented his country in the water polo tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games.

Finally, we have an update on one more Olympic mystery. Sergey Kalinin, born December 23, 1926, represented the Soviet Union in two editions of the Olympic trap shooting tournament, placing 22nd in 1964, but winning bronze in 1960. We had previously believed that he was still alive, but were not certain, and our suspicions were verified when we learned that he had died October 17, 1997.