Updates to Oldest Olympians’ Tables

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to briefly highlight two changes to our tables. The first concerns the addition of Greek sailor Charalampos Potamianos to our list of Olympic centenarians. Potamianos dabbled in several sports in his youth, including football, water polo, and sport shooting, but his lone Olympic appearance in 1948 came in sailing. At that year’s London Games, he took part in the Star class tournament, where he placed 10th. By career he was a military officer, starting in the Navy, but transferring to the Hellenic Air Force in 1932. He also dabbled in politics. Potamianos was born in 1906, and while we do not know his exact date of birth, we know that when he died on August 30, 2009, he was 103 years old.

Additionally, we have learned that Greek tennis player Esme Simiriotis, born sometime in 1884, died October 10, 1982 at the age of 97 or 98. Simiriotis was eliminated prior to the medal round in the doubles event at the 1906 Intercalated Games, but won the gold medal in women’s singles. Her longevity means that she may at one time have been the oldest living Olympic champion.

(Hjalmar Levin)

Currently, we list Swedish cyclist Hjalmar Levin as the oldest living Olympic champion following the death of Belgian fencer Paul Anspach on August 28, 1981. Levin was born June 14, 1884 and died March 8, 1983, so he definitely outlived Simiriotis and was the oldest living Olympic champion for some time. If Simiriotis was born before June 14, 1884, however, then she was the oldest living Olympic champion until her death. Without knowing her exact date of birth, however, we cannot be certain.

Changes to Oldest Olympian Titleholders

Oldest Olympians is saddened to learn that Helena Pilejczyk, born April 1, 1931, died November 12 at the age of 92. Pilejczyk represented her country in eight speed skating events across two editions of the Winter Games – 1960 and 1964 – taking bronze in the 1500 metres at the former edition. She also took part in nine editions of the World Championships and, domestically, won six Polish all-around titles and 31 distance races. She did not retire officially until 1972 and continued to compete occasionally in masters’-level tournaments after that.

At the time of her death, Pilejczyk was the oldest living Polish Olympic medalist. That distinction now goes to Maria Golimowska, born August 28, 1932, who was already the oldest living Olympic volleyball medalist. Golimowska represented Poland in the tournament at the 1964 Tokyo Games, where she won a bronze medal. She also took bronze at the 1956 and 1962 World Championships and the 1958 European Championships, in addition to silver at the 1963 Europeans. Her international career lasted from 1955 through 1966, and she did not retire domestically until 1971.

(Stoyanka Angelova, pictured at Canal Catorce)

We also learned that alpine skier Dimitri Atanasov, born August 8, 1927, whom we believed to possibly be the oldest living Bulgarian Olympian, was not the same individual who was mentioned in a 2012 article as still being alive. We have not been able to confirm that he is deceased, but we have moved him to our “possibly living” list. This makes gymnast Stoyanka Angelova, born March 28, 1928, the oldest living Bulgarian Olympian that we know of. Angelova represented her country in the tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where she had a best individual finish of 34th in the balance beam. After coaching the Bulgarian national team, she emigrated to Mexico in 1971, where she spent a half century involved with Mexican Olympian Committee.

(Robert Collins, pictured in a video by Saga Magazine)

Finally, we also had British rower Robert Collins, born April 18, 1924, on our list of Olympians for whom our last evidence of their being alive came from 2012. Connor Mah discovered, however, that Collins actually died shortly before that evidence was published, on January 27, 2012, and thus was never among the oldest Olympians.

Francisco Andrade

(Francisco Andrade, pictured on the left)

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to provide an update on Portuguese sailor Francisco Andrade, born July 15, 1923, whom we believed to be the oldest living Portuguese Olympian, as well as the oldest living Olympic sailing medalist, but for whom we were unable to locate a 100th birthday announcement.

Andrade represented Portugal in the Star class sailing tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where he won a bronze medal. Although he had taken part in several World Championships prior to the Olympics, Andrade retired after earning this prize, as he wanted to spend more time with his family. He did, however, found and run sailing schools by profession. His partner, Joaquim Fiúza, was at one time Portugal’s oldest living Olympian and, having died at the age of 102 years, 24 days, remains the country’s only centenarian Olympian.

Connor Mah was able to locate a family member and learned that the Andrade, who was actually born August 16, 1923, died April 28, 2021 at the age of 97 and thus did not reach his centenary. This means that, to the best of our knowledge, Álvaro Sabbo, born February 2, 1926, is the new oldest living Portuguese Olympian. Sabbo represented his country in equestrian eventing at two editions of the Games, 1956 and 1960, but did not place individually or with the team at either. The last update that he had for him was at the age of 90, but we have not seen any evidence of his death.

(5.5 metres class podium at the 1960 Rome Games, via Getty Images)

The oldest living Olympic sailing medalist, meanwhile, is now Pierre Girard, who was already the oldest living Swiss Olympic medalist. Girard represented his country in the 5.5 metres sailing regatta at the 1960 Rome Games, where he won a bronze medal. He later helped manage the archives of his teammate, Henri Copponex, a naval architect and three-time Olympian.

(Alfred Roch)

Additionally, Oldest Olympians is saddened to learn that Alfred Roch, born June 8, 1925, died on August 1, one day after we featured him as the oldest living Olympic cross-country skier. Roch represented Switzerland in the 50 kilometers event at the 1952 Oslo Games, where he placed 16th. The new titleholder in this regard is Giacomo Mosele, born July 30, 1925, who represented Italy in the 18 kilometers event at those same Games and placed 34th.