Even More Changes to Oldest Olympian Titleholders

Oldest Olympians is saddened to learn that two more of the oldest Olympian titleholders have died, meaning that we need to update our tables once again. Earlier this month, we featured field hockey player Ajit Singh Gill, born March 21, 1928, who died January 16 at the age of 95. Most news sources listed him as Singapore’s oldest Olympian, but we believed that weightlifter Thong Saw Pak, born July 20, 1924, held that title, as well as that of the oldest living Olympic weightlifter.

(Thong Saw Pak)

Thong represented Singapore in the lightweight division at the 1952 Helsinki Games because his home country of Malaya did not yet have a recognized national Olympic committee. He had to withdraw due to a back strain, but had earlier taken silver at the 1950 British Empire Games. He retired from active competition after the Olympics and received a scholarship to study physics in the United Kingdom. After earning his PhD, he returned to teach at the University of Malaya.

(Carlos Caballero, pictured at El Heraldo)

Research by Connor Mah, however, has determined that he died in the second half of the 2010s, possibly in the United Kingdom, although we have yet to confirm that. Regardless, as he is definitely deceased, this means that Singh Gill was the oldest living Olympian to have represented Singapore at the time of his death. That title now goes to another member of Singh Gill’s hockey squad, Richard Schoon, born June 23, 1928. We believe that the oldest living weightlifter, meanwhile, is Carlos Caballero, born February 15, 1927, who represented Colombia in the middleweight division in 1956 and 1960.

(Georgios Darivas, pictured in his obituary at Sport24)

More recently, Oldest Olympians was saddened to learn that Greek footballer Georgios Darivas, born March 12, 1926, died January 15 at the age of 97. Darivas represented his country in the tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where Greece was eliminated in the qualifying round. He had better luck at the 1951 Mediterranean Games, where he took home a gold medal. He had a successful domestic career with Olympiacos from 1946 through 1958 and later coached them to two Greek Cups and a Greek top-league title in the 1970s.

(Kees Rijvers)

At the time of his death, Darivas was both the oldest living Greek Olympian and the oldest living Olympic footballer. The holder of the former title is now Stelios Bonas, born July 1, 1929, who represented Greece in the Sharpie class sailing tournament at the 1956 Melbourne Games and was still competing as of 2023. The latter distinction now goes to Kees Rijvers, born May 27, 1926, who represented the Netherlands in the football tournament at the 1948 London Games.

Finally, as an update, we had listed German fencer Günter Stratmann, born January 8, 1931, as among the Olympians that we had last heard being alive in 2012. Unfortunately, we have learned from his son Jörg, also a fencing Olympian, that we were incorrect in this: Günter actually died September 9, 2010 at the age of 79.