Poul Svendsen and Cees Gravesteijn

Today on Oldest Olympians we have two milestone birthdays, so, yet again, rather than choose between them, we have decided to cover both in a single blog post!

(Poul Svendsen, pictured at Sjællandske Medier)

The first is Poul Svendsen, the oldest living Olympic rowing medalist, who is turning 97 today! Svendsen represented Denmark in the coxed pairs event at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where he won a bronze medal alongside Svend Pedersen and Jørgen Frantzen. A member of the Frederiksværk Roklub, he is now the last surviving member of his bronze medal-winning crew.

The second is Cees Gravesteijn, the oldest living Dutch Olympian, who is turning 96 today! Gravesteijn represented his country in the K-2 1000 canoeing event at the 1948 London Games, where he placed sixth alongside his teammate Wim Pool. He was a member of Kanovereniging De Zwetplassers.

We also have one update that we wanted to share. Earlier this month we noted the death of American Larry Damon and mentioned that he had been the only living Olympic biathlete over the age of 90. Since then, we have learned that Mauno Luukkonen, born April 14, 1934, who represented Finland in the 20 kilometers event at the 1968 Grenoble Games, is still alive and turned 90, thus giving us another Olympic biathlete on our lists!

Emam Ali Habibi and Ben Campbell

Today on Oldest Olympians we have two milestone birthdays, so, once again, rather than choose between them, we have decided to cover both in a single blog post!

The first is Emam Ali Habibi, the oldest living Iranian and wrestling Olympic champion, who is turning 93 today! Habibi represented his country in the lightweight, freestyle wrestling division at the 1956 Melbourne Games, where he won a surprise gold medal. He then switched to welterweight, winning titles at the 1958 Asian Games and the World Championships from 1959 through 1962, with his only major loss coming at the 1960 Rome Olympics, where he was eliminated in round five. He was later a member of Iran’s parliament and had a brief career in film.

The second is Ben Campbell, the oldest living Olympic judoka, who turns 91 today! Campbell represented the United States in the open class event at the 1964 Tokyo Games, where he placed sixth. He had been a gold medalist in that category at the 1963 Pan American Games and was a three-time national champion. He later turned to politics and served in the United States Senate from 1993 through 2005.

Bakir Ben Aissa and Garry Hoyt

Today on Oldest Olympians we have two milestone birthdays, so rather than choose between them, we have again decided to cover both in a single blog post!

The first is Bakir Ben Aissa, the oldest living Moroccan Olympian, who is turning 92 today! Ben Aissa represented his country at two editions of the Olympic marathon, placing eighth and twelfth in 1960 and 1964 respectively. He won that event at the 1959 and 1963 Mediterranean Games and took gold in the 10,000 metres and silver in the 5,000 metres at the 1957 Pan-Arab Games. Originally a representative of France, he joined the Moroccan national team a few years after independence and did not retire from active competition until 1968. He is, however, among the Olympians who may be removed from our lists at the end of the year, as a French article from 2013 is the last evidence we have of his being alive.

(Garry Hoyt, pictured at The Inquirer and Mirror)

The second is Garry Hoyt, the oldest living Olympian to have represented Puerto Rico, who is also turning 92 today! Hoyt represented his country in three editions of the Olympic sailing tournament, beginning in 1968 when he was 10th in the Finn class. He then teamed up with Hovey Freeman to take part in the Tempest class in 1972 and 1976, placing 16th and 15th respectively. He had better luck in the Snipe class at the 1966 Central American and Caribbean Games, where he won the gold medal. By career, he was an advertising executive, businessman, and author on the topic of sailing.

2024 Fast Facts

Now that we are well into 2024, we wanted to share our yearly fast facts about the Oldest Olympians in the world, partially to continue our commitment to transparency in our research but mostly just for fun and to share some statistics!

(The oldest living Olympian, Yvonne Chabot-Curtet, born May 28, 1920)

As of today, our full list contains 2254 participants, non-starters, demonstration athletes, and art competitors born between 1914 and 1933 that could be living, 830 of which we believe to be living for certain. The former number is down from 2299 and the latter is up from 819 from the beginning of last year.

We also have 242 Olympians (down from 294 last year) who competed in the 1928, 1932, or 1936 Games, Winter and Summer, who have no date of birth but could be still living. It is worth reminding everyone that the vast majority of athletes that could be living are likely deceased.

(Iris Cummings-Critchell, the last known survivor of the 1936 Berlin Olympics)

As of the beginning of this month, we have 11 living Olympic centenarians, as 11 died in 2023 and two thus far in 2024. We also know of one survivor from a pre-World War II Olympics: Iris Cummings, born December 21, 1920, who competed in the 200 metres breaststroke at the 1936 Berlin Games. If you have any suggestions of statistics or information that you would like to see added, please send us a message and we will be happy to include it in the next round!