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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recently, several of the oldest Olympian titleholders have died, and thus we wanted to not only provide updates for their deaths, but also cover who now holds the distinctions that they once carried. Thus, today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to review these changes in a little more detail than would be afforded by a regular post.
The first is French sport shooter Maurice Racca, born November 9, 1922, who died September 29 at the age of 100. Racca represented his country in two rifle events at the 1956 Melbourne Games, coming in 28th in the three positions and 39th in the prone position. He had much more success at the Mediterranean Games a year earlier, where he won four medals – one silver and three bronze – across various rifle disciplines. At the time of his death, which was unfortunately the first confirmation that we had that he had reached the age of 100, he was the oldest living Olympic sport shooter. That distinction now goes to Venezuelan Enrique Lucca, born December 23, 1923, who also took part in the prone event and placed 25th.
The other centenarian we lost was Danish athlete Niels Holst-Sørensen, born December 19, 1922, who died October 24. Holst-Sørensen represented his country in the 800 metres event at the 1948 London Games, where he placed ninth overall. An 18-time national champion and gold medalist in the 400 metres at the 1946 European Championships, he was later involved in sports administration and served as an IOC member from 1977 through 2002. By career he was in the military and served as Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Danish Air Force from 1970 through 1982 and military representative to NATO from 1982 through 1986. At the time of his death, he was the oldest living Danish Olympian. That distinction now goes to diver Birte Christoffersen, born March 28, 1924, who won a bronze medal for Denmark in platform diving at the 1948 London Games.
Next we have French fencer Bernard Morel, born March 30, 1925, who died October 23 at the age of 98. Morel represented his country in two Olympic team sabre tournaments, winning a bronze medal in 1952 and coming in fourth in 1956. He was also selected for the 1948 squad, but did not compete. Morel earned additional bronze medals in this event at the 1951 Mediterranean Games and the 1954 World Championships, and later held positions in the domestic administration of fencing. At the time of his death, he was the oldest living Olympic fencing medalist. The new titleholder is Italian Irene Camber, born February 12, 1926. Camber competed in four editions of the Games and won the individual foil tournament in 1952, in addition to coming in third with the team in 1960.
Our last deceased titleholder is Puerto Rican track athlete Ismael Delgado, born December 5, 1929, who died October 9 at the age of 93. Delgado represented his country in the 4×400 metres relay at the 1956 Melbourne Games, where he was eliminated in round one. He had earlier taken a silver medal in that event at the 1954 Central American and Caribbean Games, and also competed at that tournament in 1950, as well as at the 1955 Pan American Games. He began his working career in the United States Army and later became a teacher before entering the world of sports journalism and administration. When he died, he was the oldest living Puerto Rican Olympian, and he has been succeeded in this regard by sailor Garry Hoyt, born April 7, 1931, who represented his country in three consecutive editions of the Games, 1968-1976.
Finally, we wanted to note that Austrian athlete Ilse Steinegger, born August 8, 1925, died October 19 at the age of 98. Steinegger represented Austria in the high and long jumps at the 1948 London Games, placing seventh and tenth respectively. Domestically, she was the national champion in those events in 1943, 1947, and 1949. We last had an update on her in 2012, but we only learned that she had still been alive upon her death. On more positive news, the oldest living Portuguese Olympian, 1952 bronze medal-winning sailor Francisco de Andrade, born July 15, 1923, who was last confirmed alive in 2012, was also alive in 2015. While this prevents him from being removed from the tables at the end of the year, we still have no confirmation of his 100th birthday.
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 are going to complete our look into Swiss Olympians.
Only one of the remaining sports, rowing, has more than one Swiss mystery competitor. Arnold Amstutz and Otto Vonlaufen were both members of the coxed eights squad that was eliminated in the semi-finals. While there is a lot of missing information on this squad, Amstutz and Vonlaufen are the only two about whom we know nothing at all. The other mystery competitor associated with aquatic vessels is Alfons Oswald, who was 10th in sailing’s Firefly class. He held the title of “Dr.” and was competing in the late-1930s, but we have no additional information on him.
The last remaining Swiss aquatic mystery is Willy Rist, who was 23rd in platform diving. He had been the national champion in that event from 1933 through 1941 but, despite this, we have no biographical details for him. Weightlifter Richard Rieder was also a multiple national champion, having won the national bantamweight title in 1945 and 1946. In London he competed as a featherweight, placing 22nd, and later won the Swiss lightweight title in 1953. There was a Gottlieb Rieder active in weightlifting around the same time, but we are not aware of any relation to Richard, or any other biographical details.
The other physical strength-related Swiss mystery is Ernst Kobl, who was eliminated in round three of the middleweight, Greco-Roman wrestling tournament. He was runner-up in that event at the Swiss national championships in 1940 and 1942, but won the title in 1948. Aside from this, however, we know nothing about him. Finally, we are left with a track athlete and a fencer. The former is Ernst Günther, who was eliminated in round one of the 5000 metres. He was the Swiss champion in that event in 1947 and might be Ernst Alfred Günther, born July 4, 1915 and died February 22, 1984, but we cannot be certain.
The latter is Roland Turian, who was eliminated in round one with the Swiss sabre team. He may have been Roland Gaston Turian of Satigny, but this is based solely on the rarity of his name, and we have no other corroborating evidence. This is what we have for today, but we will be continuing this topic into the future and we hope that you will join us!
Today we believe that the oldest living Romanian Olympian, Francisc Horvath, is celebrating his 95th birthday. We featured Horvath in our Olympic medal mysteries series a while ago, as he won bronze in bantamweight, Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1956 Melbourne Games. In response, one reader provided a report that showed him alive in 2021, but others have pointed out sources claiming that he died in 1969 or 1980, and it remains unclear which is correct. Nonetheless, since there is a reasonable chance that he is still alive, we are wishing him a happy birthday!
While we are blogging, we also wanted to provide an update on American rower Gordy Giovannelli, born April 11, 1925. Giovanelli was a member of the coxed fours team that took gold at the 1948 London Olympics by winning all of the races with relative ease. A graduate of the University of Washington, Giovanelli continued rowing for the rest of his college career and captured an Intercollegiate Rowing Association title in the eights in 1949. Earlier this year, we noted that he was the oldest living Olympic rowing medalist and the oldest American Olympic champion, but we have learned recently that he died December 21, 2022 at the age of 97.
This has led to some changes among the oldest living Olympians. Figure skater Peter Kennedy, born September 4, 1927, who earned a silver medal in the pairs event at the 1952 Oslo Games, is now the oldest living American Olympic medalist. Another figure skater, Dick Button, born July 18, 1929, who won the men’s singles event in 1948 and 1952, is now the oldest living American Olympic champion. For rowing, Denmark’s Poul Svendsen, born April 21, 1927, who took bronze in the coxed pairs at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, is now the oldest living Olympic rowing medalist. Italy’s Giuseppe Moioli, born August 8, 1927, is the oldest living Olympic rowing champion, having won the coxless fours at the 1948 London Games.
Additionally, Oldest Olympians is saddened to learn that Egyptian footballer Abdel Aziz Kabil, born March 14, 1927, died October 11 at the age of 96. Kabil represented his country at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where Egypt was eliminated after defeating Chile, but then losing against Germany. Domestically, he won an Egyptian Cup with Zamalek in 1952, but he was better known for his military career, which included distinguished command service during the 1967 and October 1973 Wars. Upon retiring from the military in 1984, he returned to sport by way of several important administrative positions with his former club and with the Egyptian Football Federation.
At the time of his death, Kabil was the oldest living Egyptian Olympian. That distinction now goes to Wagih El-Attar, born February 22, 1928. 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.
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. As we mentioned in the last post, today we are going to start looking at Swiss Olympians who fall into this category, and we are going to begin with those who took part in team sports.
Three of them, Pierre Pasche, Karl Vogt, and Fritz Kehrer, played on the field hockey team that did not advance beyond the preliminary round. Pasche had been a player and coach with the Black Boys of Geneva since the 1930s and later worked as a referee. There are at least two candidates for his identity, neither of which we have been able to confirm. Vogt’s career with HC Olten began in the mid-1940s and continued until 1952, when he lost one of his eyes. Thereafter he served as a coach and administrator in the sport, and he may have been the Karl Vogt of Olten born July 10, 1917 and died September 2, 2005, although we cannot be certain. Finally, Fritz Kehrer of the Red Sox Zürich had been active since the mid-1930s and may have been related to the Hans Kehrer who played with that team in the 1950s. Aside from this, however, we have no concrete biographical information.
Another two, Robert Geiser and Bernard Dutoit, were members of the basketball squad that ultimately placed 21st after being eliminated in the preliminary round. Geiser was a member of Urania Genève Sport in the 1930s and 1940s and was also part of the Swiss team at the 1946 European Championships, where his country was fifth. He may have been Robert Jean Geiser, born in 1919 and died December 17, 1981 in Collonge-Bellerive, but we have not been able to prove this. Dutoit, meanwhile, played with Club Athlétique de Genève and got his start on the national team in 1947. He also took part in the European Championships, but in 1951, when Switzerland was 13th. Unfortunately, we have no clues as to his identity or evidence that he is still alive.
Finally, one member of the water polo team, Georges Hauser, remains a complete mystery to us. Switzerland was eliminated after the first round of the tournament and two of its members, Georges and Edouard Hauser, competed domestically for Schwimmclub Horgen. We do not how, or even if, they are related, but we do know that Edouard was born in 1911. It seems likely that Georges was born within a few years of that, but we do not know for certain.
This seems like enough names for today, but next time we intend to cover the rest of our 1948 Swiss mystery Olympians. We hope that you will join us!
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 want to cover most of the last of the Europeans who fall into this category as, aside from Switzerland, there are only a handful that we have not yet touched upon.
France is a country that we have covered often in this context, but there are still two canoeists that we have not yet discussed. The first is Raymond Richez, listed previously as René Richez, who competed in the K-2 1000, where he was eliminated in round one. Domestically, he won 10 national titles across various disciplines between 1945 and 1950. There are several candidates for his identity but, without a clear connection to his canoeing career, we cannot prove or disprove any of them.
The other, René Flèche, listed previously as Richard Flèche, took part in the K-2 10,000, where he placed 12th. His only national titles came in 1949, when he won the K-1 10,000 and the K-2 500. Like Richez, there are several potential candidates, but none that we have been able to identify as the canoeist definitively. We do know that he was born c. 1922 and was alive in 2017, thus we suspect that he may be René Gustave Flèche, born August 15, 1922 and died April 12, 2020 at the age of 97, but we cannot prove it.
From Austria we have three Olympians, two of whom are sailors who competed in the same event. Hans Schachinger and Horst Obermüller, along with Horst’s brother Georg, competed in the Star class, where they finished 13th overall. Schachinger was architect, but otherwise we know nothing about him. Georg was born April 15, 1915, and we know that he is deceased, but nothing else. For Horst, we have no biographical details at all.
The final Austrian is Josef Schmidt, who competed in the welterweight, Greco-Roman wrestling tournament and was eliminated in round four. Due to his common name, we have been unable to learn more about him. With this, we are left with only a sizeable collection of Swiss Olympic mysteries left to cover for 1948. Among these is Fritz Frey, our last remaining Olympic canoeist, who finished just ahead of Flèche in the K-2 10,000. He had been third-placed at the 1947 national championships, but otherwise we know nothing about him. Thus we begin our look into Swiss mystery Olympians, which we will continue in our next blog post.
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. As we mentioned in our last post, today we have decided to look at the mystery Greek Olympians who took part in the London Games.
Two of these competitors, Filas Paraskevaidis and Nikos Filippidis, competed in the coxed fours rowing events, where Greece was eliminated in the round one repêchage. We know a fair bit about the squad as a whole, including that another rower, Nikos Nikolaou, was born June 23, 1925 and is among our “possibly living” Olympians. We also know that Paraskevaidis is deceased, but with no other biographical details, and for Filippidis we have been unable to find anything due to his popular name.
Continuing the aquatic theme, sailor Georgios Kalampokidis took part in the Star class competition, where he placed 10th. Despite having carried the flag for the Greek delegation at the London Games, we know nothing about him, although he is likely deceased, as all of his crewmates were born in the 1900s decade. Nikolaos Melanofeidis, meanwhile, competed in both the 100 metres backstroke swimming event, as well as the water polo tournament, but we also have no biographical details for him.
There are three more members of the water polo team that remain Olympic mysteries: Alexandros Monastiriotis, Emmanouil Papadopoulos, and Ioannis Papastefanou. Monastiriotis is sometimes connected to the FIFA referee of the same name who was born in the first half of the 1920s. According to Greek Wikipedia, he died on April 28, 2020, but we have not been able to verify any of this information, or even the connection. Papastefanou was a three-time Greek champion (1945, 1946, 1950) and was still alive in 1999, but we do not know if that is still the case. About Papadopoulos, we have no information at all.
The last mystery Greek is Petros Leonidis, who took part in the cycling road race but failed to finish either individually or as a member of the team. He was the Panhellenic champion in 1947 and 1950, but aside from this we have been unable to uncover anything about him. We want to end this entry, however, by thanking the reader who discovered that Portuguese equestrian João Barrento, who we covered in our last blog entry, died in 1988.
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 two Portuguese Olympians in the last post, today we have decided to look at the remainder who took part in the London Games.
The first is fencer Manuel Pinheiro Chagas, who competed in the individual and team épée events, but was eliminated in the first round of both. While we known a lot about his teammates, information on Chagas has eluded us, possibly because results for the much more famous writer of the same name dominate search results.
The other two are equestrians, the first of whom, João Barrento, took part in the jumping event, where the team failed to place but he finished 22nd individually. Four years later, he was head of the Portuguese equestrian delegation to the Helsinki Olympics, although he did not compete. We know that he went on have a military career for many decades, but we could not locate any specific biographical details. The other, António Serôdio, took part in eventing and failed to finish individually or with the team and, again, we know of no biographical details for him.
In our last post, we also covered one of the Greek mystery Olympians, which we intend to be the subject of our next blog post. Since there are so many who fall into that category, however, we want to mention one of them in this entry: fencer Andreas Skotidas. Skotidas competed in the team events for both the épée and saber, but was eliminated in the first round of both. In the individual épée, however, he made it to the quarter-finals before being eliminated. Andreas was the son of Evangelos Skotidas, born in 1895, who fenced at the 1920 and 1924 Summer Olympics, but aside from this we have no biographical details for either of them.