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!