A Week+ Worth of Updates

Oldest Olympians will be travelling with limited internet connectivity for the next week so, rather than miss an update, we have decided to post a blog entry today that will cover one Olympian for every day that we suspect we will be absent (February 21–29).

Tomorrow, Czech canoeist Růžena Košťálová, born February 21, 1924, will turn 100! Košťálová was one half of the silver medal-winning Czechoslovakian team in the Kayak Doubles, 500 metres event at the 1948 World Championships and represented the country at that year’s Olympic Games in the Kayak Singles, 500 metres. Although she won her heat in the opening round, she finished fifth in the final. Having already won 12 national titles in the sport, she retired from active competition shortly thereafter and eventually moved to Switzerland with her family in 1968. While there are sources that claim that she died in 2013, contact with her son confirms that she was still alive at the end of last year as the oldest living Olympian to have represented Czechoslovakia and the oldest living Olympic canoeist.

The next day, Egyptian rower Wagih El-Attar, born February 22, 1928, will turn 96! El-Attar represented his country in the coxed fours rowing event at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where Egypt was eliminated in the round one repêchage. He had better luck at the 1955 Mediterranean Games, where he captured bronze in the coxed pairs. He now lives in Orange Country, California as the oldest living Egyptian Olympian.

Then, (West) German equestrian Harry Boldt, born February 23, 1930, will turn 94! Boldt competed in two editions of the Olympic dressage competition, representing unified Germany in 1964 in Tokyo and West Germany in 1976 in Montreal. Both times, he earned gold in the team competition and silver individually. At the World Championships, he earned silver individually in 1966 and gold with the team in 1966 and 1978, as well as team silver in 1970. He collected an additional 11 medals, five of them gold, at the European Championships between 1963 and 1979, and retired in 1980. He then served as a coach until his 1996 retirement and is now the oldest living German Olympic champion.

As there are no more milestone birthdays during this period, we wanted to take some time to highlight some particularly successful and well-known Olympians who have turned 90 within the past year. First, British sprinter Heather Armitage, born March 17, 1933, is nearing her 91st birthday. Armitage represented her country in five track events across two editions of the Games – 1952 and 1956 – and took bronze and silver in the 4×100 metres relays those years respectively. She also took gold in the 100 metres at the 1958 European Championships and won four medals at the Mediterranean Games from 1954 through 1958.

Next we have American modern pentathlete Jack Daniels, born April 26, 1933. Daniels represented his country in two editions of the Olympic modern pentathlon tournament – 1956 and 1960 – taking silver and bronze with the team in those years respectively. He was national champion individually in 1958 and had a career with the United States Army, but later became well-known athletics coach after receiving his doctoral degree in exercise physiology.

Another American double Olympic medalist is ice hockey player John Mayasich, born May 22, 1933. Mayasich took silver and gold in the tournaments at the 1956 and 1960 Winter Olympics respectively. He also competed at six editions of the World Championships between 1957 and 1969 and was a top player with the Minnesota Golden Gophers during his college days. He was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 1997.

Turning to Finland, cross-country skier Toini Pöysti, born July 1, 1933, took bronze medals in the 3×5 kilometers relay in 1960 and 1964. Individually, she never placed lower than sixth in her other three events, and she won a silver medal in the relay at the 1958 World Championships. She also competed at the Worlds in 1962 and 1966 and captured her only national title in 1960, in the 10 kilometers.

Moving to Italy, we have Abdon Pamich, born October 3, 1933, who competed in five consecutive editions of the 50 kilometer race walk from 1956 through 1972. He won the event in 1964 and also took bronze in 1960, just missing a third medal by placing fourth in 1956. He also took the title at the Mediterranean Games in 1955, 1963, and 1971, as well as at the European Championships in 1962 and 1966, coming in second in 1958. He was a 40-time national champion across various distances and later worked as a sports psychologist and coach.

Finally, at the beginning of this year, American track athlete Charlie Jenkins, born January 7, 1934, turned 90. Jenkins represented his country in the 400 metres and 4×400 metres relay at the 1956 Melbourne Games and won gold in both events. He was the national champion in the 400 metres in 1955 and later worked as a coach, with his son Chip winning gold in the relay in 1992.

The tables will not be updated during our absence, but we look forward to returning on March 1 to continue cover the Oldest Olympians! We hope that you will join us!

More Updates to Oldest Olympian Titleholders

(Ásmundur Bjarnason)

Oldest Olympians is saddened to learn of the deaths of two more of the Oldest Olympian titleholders. The first, Icelandic track and field athlete Ásmundur Bjarnason, born February 17, 1927, died February 1 at the age of 96. Ásmundur represented his nation at the 1948 London Olympics, where he was eliminated in round one of the 4×100 metres relay. He made a second Olympic appearance in 1952, where he was eliminated in the opening rounds of the 100 and 200 metres events, as well as the 4×100 metres relay. He also placed fifth in the 200 metres at the 1950 European Championships. Nationally, he won the Icelandic pentathlon title in 1947, the 100 metres crown in 1954, and the 200 metres championship in 1954 and 1955. At the time of his death, Ásmundur was the oldest living Icelandic Olympian. That distinction now goes to Jakobína Jakobsdóttir, born November 21, 1932, who represented her country in three alpine skiing events at the 1956 Cortina d’Ampezzo Games.

(Cees Koch)

Next, Dutch canoeist Cees Koch, born December 30, 1925, died February 13 at the age of 98. Koch represented his country in three events across two editions of the Games, 1948 and 1952, with a best finish of sixth in the K-2 10,000 in 1948. He also competed at the 1954 World Championships and was a multiple national champion. At the time of his death, he was the oldest living Dutch Olympian, given that we will be removing Dutch swimmer Lies Bonnier, born July 8, 1925, from our list, as we last heard from her in 2012. This means that footballer Kees Rijvers, born May 27, 1926, who took part in the tournament at the 1948 London Games, is now the oldest living Dutch Olympian.

(Neville Howell)

Finally, we mentioned a few days ago that Australian rower Garth Manton, born December 16, 1929, died February 1 at the age of 94 as the oldest living Australian Olympic medalist. That distinction now goes to his teammate in the eights, Neville Howell, who was born one day later on December 17, 1929.

Charles Coste and Wu Chengzhang

Today we have two Olympians turning 100, so we wanted to celebrate them both in a single blog entry, as were unable to choose between the two of them!

First up is French cyclist Charles Coste. Coste’s brief amateur career after World War II was quite successful, beginning with his national title in the individual pursuit in 1947. In 1948 he joined Serge Blusson, Fernand Decanali, and Pierre Adam in winning a gold medal in the team pursuit, 4,000 metres event at that year’s London Olympics, and followed that up with an individual pursuit bronze at the World Championships later that year. He then raced as a professional for a decade, notching up several major victories and competing in many more of Europe’s biggest tours. He is the oldest living French Olympic medalist, the oldest living Olympic cyclist, and the last surviving member of his gold medal-winning team.

Next is Wu Chengzhang, the oldest living Chinese Olympian and Olympic basketball player! A lifelong student of physical education, Wu was a member of the Chinese basketball squad that competed at the 1948 London Games and ranked 18th overall out of 23 teams. Following the end of his competitive career, he worked as a basketball coach and trainer. His son, Wu Xinshui, also practiced the sport and in 1999 was voted one of the best all-time Chinese players.