Bea Ballintijn

Oldest Olympians is saddened to learn that Norwegian swimmer Bea Ballintijn, born May 9, 1923, died June 29 at the age of 100. Ballintijn represented her country in the 100 metres backstroke at the 1948 London Games, where she was eliminated in round one. Domestically, she was champion in that event in 1938 and 1939 and from 1946 through 1951. When we featured her recently, we noted that she was the oldest living Norwegian Olympian, and thus we wanted to cover her successor in that regard in this blog.

When looking up information on the Olympian that we believed to be her successor, however, track athlete Viktor Olsen, born February 5, 1924, we learned that he died April 21 at the age of 99. Olsen represented his country in the marathon at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where he finished 16th. Domestically, he was a five-time national champion (1954 1956-1959) and also won the 25 kilometer road race from 1953 through 1957. By career, he was a gardener.

This makes Ingrid Wigernæs, born February 22, 1928, the new oldest living Norwegian Olympian. Wigernæs took part in three cross-country skiing events across two editions of the Winter Olympics, finishing 27th in the 10 km in 1956 and joint-15th and 12th in the 5 and 10 km events respectively in 1964. She won several national titles over the course of her career, but her biggest international success came at the 1966 World Championships, where she was a member of the 3×5 km relay squad that took silver. She later turned to coaching, with her most notable success in that realm coming from her mentorship over the 3×5 km relay team that took gold at the 1968 Grenoble Games. Wigernæs was already the oldest living Olympian to have competed at the 1964 Innsbruck Olympics and now resides in Oslo.

Finally, we have some additional updates on previous cases, including two of our Austrian Olympic mysteries that are now solved. Fencer Richard Brünner has been confirmed as the individual born November 18, 1888 and died November 25, 1962, while figure skater Fritz Wächtler did die on July 26, 1963. Finally, we learned the French gymnast previously known as Antoine Chatelaine, and then André Chatelaine, was actually André Chatelain, born March 31, 1902 and died January 14, 1968.