More 1948 Olympic Mysteries

In order to catch up on our backlog of blogging, today Oldest Olympians is continuing its look into mystery competitors from the 1948 London Olympics for whom we lack both a date of birth and confirmation as to whether they are alive or deceased. Given the time that has passed, nearly all of these Olympians would be at least 90 years old, but there is a possibility that some are still alive. Today we wanted to touch upon nations who have only one such mystery competitor remaining.

The only European country on this list is Lichtenstein, as we know little about one of its 1948 decathletes, Josef Seger. At the Games, Seger retired after the discus throw, at which point he was nearly in last place. This still made him more successful than his compatriot Gebhard Büchel, born June 21, 1921, who retired earlier, and whom we last knew as living in 2013 but never located a 100th birthday announcement. Seger, meanwhile, was in London during the Games studying language when he was selected. If he was a student, then this suggests that he might have been among the younger competitors, but we have been unable to locate any concrete biographical data.

Next we have Syria’s lone competitor at the 1948 London Olympics, Zouheir Shourbagi, who was 10th in the platform diving event and was also entered into the springboard, but did not start. Shourbagi later helped train swimmers and lifesavers in his home country, but unfortunately we do not have any additional biographical information on him.

From Pakistan we have Nazar Muhammad Khan Malik, who competed in the shot put and the discus throw but was eliminated in the first round of both. He often went by just Nazar Muhammad (or Mohammed) and was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Armed forces but, aside from this, we do not know anything about him.

Finally, while on the subject of Pakistan, it seems to be relevant to talk about India, which has only two mystery competitors from 1948 that we have not covered. Sadhu Singh took part in both the 10 and 50 kilometer walks in London, being eliminated in round one and failing to complete the race respectively. Aside from the fact that he was born in Malaysia, we know nothing about him. Prahtip Mitra, meanwhile, was eliminated in round one of the 100 metres backstroke swimming event, and we have been unable to uncover any additional information about him either.

1948 Czechoslovakian Olympic Mysteries

Today Oldest Olympians is continuing its look into mystery competitors from the 1948 London Olympics for whom we lack both a date of birth and confirmation as to whether they are alive or deceased. Given the time that has passed, nearly all of these Olympians would be at least 90 years old, but there is a possibility that some are still alive. Since we looked at one Czechoslovakian Olympian in the last post, today we have decided to look at the rest from the London Games.

First, we want to mention two members from the 1948 Czechoslovakian rowing delegation, Josef Kalaš and Karel Vaněk. Both were members of the coxless fours squad that was eliminated in the round one repêchage, which consisted of members of ČVK Praha. Both were also members of the Czechoslovakian crew that won a silver medal in the eights at the 1949 European Championships but, aside from that, we know nothing about either.

There are also two members of Czechoslovakia’s wrestling delegation that remain unknown to us. Jan Stehlík took part in the featherweight, Greco-Roman tournament and withdrew after losing his round one match. Václav Tuhý, meanwhile, competed in the lightweight, Greco-Roman competition, and also withdrew after round one. Tuhý was the Czech champion in this event in 1945, 1946, and 1949, while Stehlík’s only featherweight, Greco-Roman title came in 1952.

Finally, Svatopluk Skýva represented Czechoslovakia in sabre fencing as both an individual and with the team. In both events, he was eliminated in the quarter-finals. We know a fair amount about Skýva, as he was a national sabre champion, a professor at the Prague Conservatory, a theatre producer, and an author. Despite this, we do not have any information about his birth or death, or whether he is still alive.

1948 Yugoslavian Olympic Mysteries

(Milan Blaće, pictured at “Hrvatski olimpijci i odličnici“)

Thanks to a reader of this blog, we were able to solve most of the mystery behind the Yugoslavian reserve rower Milan Blaće, who was born October 14, 1912 and died September 16 of either 1964 or 1984 (two sources list different years). We feel, therefore, that this is a good segue into looking at the mystery competitors from the 1948 London Olympics for whom we lack both a date of birth and confirmation as to whether they are alive or deceased. To begin, therefore, we will look into two competitors from Yugoslavia who fit this description.

The first is Serbian rower Slobodan Jovanović, who represented Yugoslavia in the coxed eights rowing event, where his country was eliminated in the round one repêchage. He was a member of Red Star Beograde but, because he shares his name with a famous writer, we have been unable to uncover more information about him.

(Ruža Vojsk)

The other is Serbian gymnast Draginja Đipalović, whose name is also seen as Dragana/Draga Djipalovic/Dzipalovic, and who is the only woman on this list. She competed in the team all-around event in London, where her nation placed seventh. At least one of her teammates, Slovenian Ruža Vojsk, born March 31, 1930, is still alive, which means that it is possible that Đipalović is as well.

While we are on the topic, we also want to mention the sole mystery Olympian from the 1948 St. Moritz Winter Olympics, bobsledder Ivan Šipajlo of Czechoslovakia. Originally a spectator, he was pulled from the crowd as a replacement in the four-man, with the team finishing 14th among 15 entrants. He was a student at the time of the Games and thus was likely one of the younger competitors, leaving open the possibility that he may still be alive.

(Shmuel Laviv-Lubin, pictured at The National Library of Israel)

Finally, we wanted to provide two updates from previous blog posts. First, we discovered that Israeli sport shooter Shmuel Laviv-Lubin, born July 13, 1923, whom we had last heard from as living in 2010, died July 17, 2012. Also, Hernan Macchiavello was able to confirm that Salvadoran sport shooter Andrés Amador, born November 22, 1924, died September 12, 2013. We will continue our look into Olympic mysteries from the 1948 London Games in the near future, and we hope that you will join us!

The Oldest Cuban Olympians

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to provide an update to titleholders among the oldest Olympians. What brought on this blog post was the death of rower Tirso del Junco, who was the oldest living Cuban Olympian.

Del Junco, born April 20, 1925, represented his country in the coxed fours rowing event at the 1948 London Olympics, where his boat was eliminated in the quarterfinals. The following year he moved to the United States and eventually participated in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, before moving to California to work as a surgeon. He was heavily active in Republican Party politics in the state and was a delegate to the national convention from 1968 through 2004. He died September 4 at the age of 98.

We then believed that basketball player Ramón Wiltz, born December 12, 1926, had taken the title of oldest Cuban Olympian. Wiltz represented his country in the tournaments at the 1948 and 1952 Games, placing 13th both times. He had better luck at the Central American and Caribbean Games, winning silver in 1946 and bronze in 1950. He later moved to Florida, where we believed him to still be living; we learned from a family tree, however, that he died May 27, 2022 in Miami.

The next oldest Cuban Olympian on our lists was swimmer Raúl García, born April 9, 1930. García represented his country in the 100 metres freestyle event at the 1948 London Games, where he was eliminated in round one. He had had better luck at the 1946 Central American and Caribbean Games, where he had won a bronze medal with the 4×200 metres freestyle relay. García later worked as a lawyer in Florida, and while several sources suggested that he was still alive recently, the Florida Bar now lists him as deceased. Connor Mah was then able to locate a post from his niece, showing that he died in August 2020.

We believe, therefore, that sport shooter Enrique Guedes, born July 17, 1932, is now the oldest living Cuban Olympian. Guedes represented his country in the small-bore rifle, prone, 50 metres event at the 1968 Mexico City Games, where he placed 61st. He had better luck at the 1970 Central American and Caribbean Games, where he took silver with the team and bronze individually in the 50 m small-bore rifle prone English match. He was also a silver medalist with the Cuban team at the 1971 Pan American Games in the small-bore rifle 3 positions.

Finally, earlier this month we covered Swedish athlete Bo Åhlen, born March 18, 1931, who was a reserve in the 100 metres and the 4×400 metres relay at the 1952 Helsinki Games. We were informed subsequently by Carl-Johan Johansson that Åhlen died August 23, 2023 in Älvsjö.

More German Ice Stock Sport Competitors, Part III

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to finish wrapping up our coverage of eisstockschießen, or “ice stock sport” at the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Olympics. We have covered this tournament haphazardly, but we wanted be a little more organized and touch upon the remaining mystery competitors that we have not yet mentioned. Today, we are going to finish looking at all those that we have not discussed previously.

In the event for Germans only, we have not mentioned that the team from Eissportverein Weilheim also included Xaver Bauer, Anton Kranner, and Roman Ostermeier, none of whom we know anything about. The same can be said of the remaining members of eighth-placed Eisstock-Club Mittenwald – Johann Fichtl, Georg Müller, and Franz Wörndl – and the ninth-placed team of Eis- und Rollschuhsportverein Passau: Hans Bauer, Alois Haider, and Heinrich Wurst.

For the tenth-placed Eissport-Club Oberstdorf, we missed only one individual: Franz Dürr. Just as with the two remaining members of 11th-placed Gießener Eisverein, Willi Mohr and Walter Schonebohm, we have been unable to uncover any concrete information about him. From 12th-placed Altonaer Schlittschuhläuferverein, from Hamburg, we have not covered Herrmann Jeddicke and Otto Kolzen. There are two Otto Kolzens buried in Hamburg, but we do not know if either were the Olympian: one was born January 3, 1880 and died November 17, 1954, while the other was born November 9, 1913 and died June 13, 1979. Given the wide range of ages in the tournament, either could be the player, but for Jeddicke we have no leads.

The final two players, Wilhelm Kadel and Karl Möser, were members of the Frankfurter Tennis-Club 1914 club that finished 14th and last, and we again have no information on either. They do, however, wrap up our coverage of mystery competitors for the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Olympics, although for completeness on pre-war Olympians without dates of birth or death, we need to mention two rowers from the Berlin Games: Milan Blace and Branko Karadjole. Both were reserves with the Yugoslavian coxed fours squad, but neither saw any playing time and we have no biographical details on either of them.

That is what we have for today, but we hope to soon move to the 1948 St. Moritz and London Olympics There are many Olympians who took part in the Games for whom we lack information on their dates of birth. Now that most, if not all, of those individuals would be over the age of 90, we are hoping to delve into these Games in more detail in the hopes of bringing their contributions to global sport to a greater audience and maybe even solving a few Olympic mysteries. We hope that you will join us!

Updates to Oldest Olympian Titleholders

Today on this blog, we wanted to provide some updates on new titleholders among the oldest Olympians. Recently, two Olympians have died, which has led to three titles changing hands, and we wanted to ensure that we have acknowledged all of them.

First, Oldest Olympians is saddened to learn that Iranian weightlifter Hassan Rahnavardi, born May 10, 1927, died September 4 at the age of 96. Rahnavardi represented his country at the 1952 and 1956 Summer Games, but just missed the podium in fourth both times. He was more successful at the Asian Games, winning gold medals in 1951 and 1958, and silver at the World Championships in 1957 and three bronze medals between 1949 and 1955. By career, he earned a doctorate of public health from Tulane University and later worked as a politician, before being forced to flee the country following the Iranian Revolution, eventually settling in the United States.

At the time of Rahnavardi’s death, he was the oldest living Iranian Olympian. This distinction now goes to a wrestler, Mahmoud Mollaghasemi, born April 5, 1929, who was already the oldest living Iranian Olympic medalist. Mollaghasemi represented his country in the flyweight, freestyle wrestling competition at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where he won a bronze medal. He also earned a silver medal in that event at the 1951 World Championships. He later turned to coaching and was a judge at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Next, Argentine sailor Guillermo Julio Calegari, born September 13, 1924, died July 21 at the age of 98. Calegari represented his country in sailing’s Star class event at the 1972 Munich Games, where he placed 18th and last. He later became world champion in that event at the master’s level in 2005 and his son, Guillermo Jr., represented Argentina in that category at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. By career, he took part in the family real estate business. At the time of his death, he was the oldest living Argentinian Olympian and oldest survivor of the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The oldest living Argentinian Olympian is now basketball player Ricardo González, born May 12, 1925. González represented Argentina at the 1948 and 1952 Olympic basketball tournaments, finishing 15th and 4th respectively. He had more luck at other international events, winning gold at the 1950 World Championships and silver at the 1951 and 1955 Pan American Games. In 1980 he was named one of the five best basketball players in Argentina’s history and in 2009 he became a member of the FIBA Hall of Fame.

Finally, the oldest survivor of the 1972 Munich Games is now British equestrian Domini Lawrence, born May 8, 1925. Lawrence represented Great Britain in two Olympic dressage tournaments: in 1968 she was fifth with the team and 11th individually, while in 1972 she was 10th with the team and 33rd individually. She later became a distinguished judge with the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, serving until her retirement in 1998.