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!

Birte Christoffersen-Hanson and Stoyanka Angelova

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

The first is Birte Christoffersen-Hanson, who is turning 100 today! Christoffersen-Hanson represented Denmark in diving as Brite Christoffersen until 1953, including at the 1948 London Olympics, where she won a bronze medal in the platform event. She also took two bronze medals at the 1950 European Championships. From 1954 until her retirement in the 1960s, she represented Sweden as Birte Hanson, appearing twice more at the Olympics (1956 and 1960) and capturing one bronze (1958) and two silver medals (1954) at the European Championships. By career, she worked as a physical education instructor and now resides in Limhamn, Malmö as the oldest living Danish Olympian, diving Olympian, and survivor of the 1960 Rome Games!

(Stoyanka Angelova, pictured at Canal Catorce)

Next is gymnast Stoyanka Angelova, who is turning 96 and is the oldest living Bulgarian Olympian! 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.

(Zoltán Sándor, pictured in his obituary)

We were also intending to celebrate a third birthday, that of Hungarian sport shooter Zoltán Sándor, who we believed was turning 98. Sándor represented his country in the free rifle, three positions, 300 metres event at the 1964 Tokyo Games, where he placed 16th. He also attended the 1966 World Championships and, domestically, won five individual and 24 team national titles. By career he was an instructor in engineering, but also coached his sport. Earlier this year, we noted that Sándor was the oldest survivor of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, but it seems that was never the case. We now believe the holder of that title is Colombian fencer Ernesto Sastre, born December 17, 1926, who competed in three events in 1964.

Fernand Bothy and Gábor Benedek

Today we have two milestone birthdays to celebrate and, since we could not choose between them, we are going to feature them both! First is Belgian Fernand Bothy, the oldest living Olympic boxer, who is turning 98! Bothy represented his country in the heavyweight division at the 1948 London Games, where he was defeated in round two. He then embarked upon a brief professional career in 1949, earning a 4-2-0 record, and now resides in Farciennes.

Next is Hungarian modern pentathlete Gábor Benedek, the oldest living Olympic medalist in modern pentathlon, who is turning 97! After serving in World War II, Benedek made his Olympic debut at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where he won a silver medal in the individual event and, with the help of his countrymen, gold in the team tournament. He made a second appearance in 1956, where Hungary missed the podium in fourth and, individually, Benedek was sixth. He was also an individual World Champion in 1953 and a winner with the Hungarian team in 1954. For political reasons, he was banned from competing after 1959 and thus he took up coaching. He later emigrated to West Germany, where he remained until the end of the Cold War. He is now the last surviving member of his gold medal-winning team.

1934 Olympic Missing Links

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to take a look at two Olympic missing links with a year of birth of 1934. As a reminder, these are individuals for whom we believe that we have a date of death, but cannot confirm that the information is accurate or connect it to the Olympian with certainty.

Muhammad Safdar: Member of Pakistan’s boxing delegations to the 1956 and 1960 Summer Olympics

Muhammad Safdar, born September 1, 1934, represented Pakistan in light-heavyweight boxing at the 1956 and 1960 Summer Games and was eliminated in his first bout both times. He had much better luck at the 1962 Asian Games, where he won a gold medal in that category. An anonymous editor inserted a date of death September 15, 2021 and a place of death of Dulmial into his English Wikipedia page, but we have been unable to verify this.

Trần Văn Xuân– Member of South Vietnam’s fencing delegations to the 1960 and 1964 Summer Olympics

Trần Văn Xuân, born September 6, 1934, represented South Vietnam in five individual fencing events across two editions of the Games, 1960 and 1964, and was eliminated in the first round of all of them. He was also selected for the individual foil in 1968, but did not start the event. Vietnamese Wikipedia has a short biography of him, as well as a date of death of March 3, 2009 in Ho Chi Minh City, but we could locate no sources to confirm this information.

Last Known Alive in 2013, Part 3

Today on Oldest Olympians, we are completing our look at those Olympians who were last known living in 2013. We also have an additional update from our previous posts: thanks to information from James Flynn, we now know that Shelia Lerwill was alive at least until 2018, so we will be able to keep her on our tables. Additionally, since we discovered that three more individuals on our list were alive more recently than 2013, we only have one additional name to cover today!

(Marian Herda, pictured at hockeyarchives.info)

Marian Herda – Member of Poland’s ice hockey team at the 1956 Cortina d’Ampezzo Olympics

Marian Herda, born October 1, 1933, was a member of Poland’s ice hockey squad at the 1956 Cortina d’Ampezzo Games, where the nation was eliminated in the preliminary round and ranked eighth overall. After the Games, he defected to West Germany and was rumored to have died in a traffic crash shortly thereafter. He was, however, still alive as of his 80th birthday, although we have not seen an update since then.

Since we have less to write about today than we thought we would, we want to also share an Olympic medal mystery. British track athlete John Salisbury, born January 26, 1934, won a bronze medal for Great Britain in the 4×400 metres relay at the 1956 Melbourne Games. He also competed in the 400 metres at those Games, but was eliminated in the semi-finals. He was a gold medalist in the relay at the 1958 European Championships, and also took silver in the 400 metres. At that year’s British Empire and Commonwealth Games, representing England, he took silver in the 4×440 yards relay and just missed a medal in fourth in the 440 yards. Despite these accomplishments, we have seen no evidence that he is still alive, perhaps because of his common name.

Finally, thanks to a reader from our blog, we have learned that Cees Gravesteijn, born April 21, 1928, whom we last heard from in 2012, was still alive in 2019. This allows us to add him back to our tables and makes him – to the best of our knowledge – the oldest living Dutch Olympian!

Last Known Alive in 2013, Part 2

Today on Oldest Olympians, we are continuing to review those Olympians who were last known living in 2013. We do, however, have one update from our last post already; thanks to a reader of our blog, we have learned that Alfred Leiser was still alive in at least 2019, after his 90th birthday, so we will be able to keep him on the list! We also discovered a potential obituary for another name, Guatemalan sports shooter Felipe Ortiz, born May 20, 1932, who we last heard from in 2013. An obituary for someone with his exact full name suggests that he may have died October 29, 2023, but we cannot confirm that the individual in the obituary is the Olympian.

Carol Bedö – Member of Romania’s gymnastic team at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Carol Bedö, born December 13, 1930, represented Romania in the gymnastics tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where he was 20th in the team all-around and had his best individual finish of joint-55th in the floor exercise. That year, he had captured three national titles and he later became an education and sport administrator by profession. Like many Romanians, we have had difficulty in determining if he is still alive, and our last confirmed evidence comes from 2013.

Enrique Guittens – Member of Venezuela’s weightlifting delegation to the 1960 Rome Olympics

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Enrique Guittens, born December 4, 1931, represented Venezuela in the light-heavyweight weightlifting division at the 1960 Rome Games, but failed to record a mark. He had had better luck at the 1959 Pan American Games, where he took silver in that division. He later moved to the United States and was living in New York as of 2013, but we have not heard about him since then.

Tomáš Bauer – Czechoslovakia’s lone diver at the 1960 Rome Olympics

Tomáš Bauer, born October 26, 1932, represented Czechoslovakia in the diving tournament at the 1960 Rome Games, where he was 21st in both the springboard and platform competitions. He continued to compete at the master’s level, which is how we know that he was still alive in 2013, but we have not seen updates since.

Michihiro Ozawa – Member of the Japanese football squad at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics

Michihiro Ozawa, born December 25, 1932, represented Japan in the football tournament at the 1956 Melbourne Games, where his country was eliminated in round one. Internationally, he played with Japan through 1964, including at the 1958 and 1962 Asian Games, while domestically he spent his entire career with Toyo Industries. We suspect that he is still alive, as he was inducted into the Japan Football Hall of Fame in 2014, but the only definitive evidence that we have comes from 2013.

Pete Sutton – Member of Canada’s track athletics delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Pete Sutton, born October 15, 1932, represented Canada in three track events at the 1952 Helsinki Games – the 100 metres, 200 metres, and 4×100 metres relay – but was eliminated in the first round of all of them. He was also a reserve in the 4×400 relay. While his first wife was a well-known figure in the Toronto area, we have not been able to confirm that Pete was still alive after 2013.

We will stop here for today, but we hope to finish this series of blog entries in the very near future! We also hope that you will join us!

Last Known Alive in 2013

Last year, Oldest Olympians spent several blog entries covering those Olympians for whom we last had evidence of being alive from 2012 and would remove from our tables at the end of the year if we could not find any additional evidence of their being alive. Although we received updates on many of those names, several others have just been removed: Lies Bonnier, Suhas Chatterjee, Cees Gravesteijn, Hong Jong-Oh, Vivian King, Boonpak Kwancharoen, Marija Radosavljević, and Jaroslav Šír. Moving on to this year’s task, our list of individuals from whom we last heard in 2013 is 16 names long, and thus we will again be covering them over multiple blog entries.

Bakir Ben Aissa – Member of Morocco’s track athletics delegation to the 1960 and 1964 Summer Olympics

This year, only two of our names are also titleholders among the Oldest Olympians. The first, track athlete Bakir Ben Aissa, born April 7, 1931, is believed to be the oldest living Moroccan Olympian. 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. A French article from 2013 is the last evidence we have of his being alive.

Beverly Faulds – Member of Zimbabwe’s field hockey squad at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics

The other is Beverly Faulds, born May 16, 1933, who we believe to be the oldest living Olympian to have represented Zimbabwe. Faulds was a member of the field hockey team that was officially representing Rhodesia at the 1964 Tokyo Games and was eliminated in the preliminary round of the tournament. We believe that he was alive and living in South Africa as of 2013, but we have been unable to uncover any additional information.

(Ib Bjørke, pictured at Ridehesten.com)

Ib Bjørke – Member of Denmark’s equestrian delegation to the 1960 Rome Olympics

Ib Bjørke, born July 8, 1928, represented Denmark in the equestrian eventing tournament at the 1960 Rome Games, where he was 28th individually, but did not place with the team as two of its members did not have qualifying marks. He later became head of the Danish Riding Association, but we have not seen any updates on him since 2013.

Sheila Lerwill – Silver medalist for Great Britain in the high jump at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Sheila Lerwill, born August 16, 1928, won a silver medal for Great Britain in the high jump at the 1952 Helsinki Games. She captured that title at the 1950 European Championships and came in fourth at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. After coming in fifth at that year’s Europeans, she retired from active competition. She was still alive when she was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013, but since then we have heard no further news.

(Alfred Leiser, pictured at PferdeWoche)

Alfred Leiser – Member of Switzerland’s track athletics delegation to the 1960 Rome Olympics

Alfred Leiser, born March 6, 1929, represented Switzerland in the 50 kilometers event at the 1960 Rome Games, where he placed 25th. A nine-time national champion, he was also known for his many decades of involvement in the sport of horse racing. An article from 2013 covered his life, but since then we have seen nothing further.

Franz Happernagl – Member of Germany’s track athletics delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Franz Happernagl, born December 25, 1929, represented the unified German team in the 4×100 metres relay at the 1952 Helsinki Games and was eliminated in the heats. Domestically he won a bronze medal in that event at the 1952 West German Championships and, by career, he was a commercial clerk. An article from 2013 mentioned that he was still alive, but we have not seen any further updates.

That is enough for today, but we hope that you will come back soon for the second part of our coverage of Olympians last known living in 2013!

Kees Rijvers and Irene Camber-Corno

Two blog entries ago we noted that, following the death of canoeist Cees Koch on February 13, footballer Kees Rijvers, born May 27, 1926, who took part in the tournament at the 1948 London Games, became the oldest living Dutch Olympian. Rijvers played 33 matches with the national team and most of his professional career was in France, where he won the Division 1 title in 1957 and the French Cup in 1962. He later became a well-known coach with both professional leagues and the Dutch national team.

(Jan Willem Pennink)

Unfortunately, we have learned the Rijvers died this month at the age of 97. Because both Lies Bonnier (born July 8, 1925) and Cees Gravesteijn (born April 21, 1928) were last known living in 2012, we believe that the oldest living Dutch Olympian is now rower Jan Willem Pennink, born March 31, 1929. Pennik represented his country in the coxed fours event at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where his crew was eliminated in the round one repêchage.

Additionally, we recently celebrated the 98th birthday of Italian fencer Irene Camber-Corno, born February 12, 1926. Camber-Corno competed in four editions of the Games – 1948, 1952, 1960, and 1964 – in both individual and team foil events. Her greatest success came in 1952, when she won the individual foil title, and she captured a second medal, bronze, with the foil team in 1960. She also earned eight medals – including two golds – in foil tournaments at the World Championships from 1952 through 1962. By career she worked for a chemical corporation, but also taught mathematics and chemistry. She turned to coaching later in life and was with the national team in that capacity at the 1972 Summer Games.

(Daniel Dagallier)

At the time of her death, Camber-Corno was the oldest living Italian Olympic medalist, Olympic fencing medalist, and survivor of the 1964 Tokyo Games. In the first category, the titleholder is now Giuseppe Moioli, born August 8, 1927, who took part in the coxless fours rowing tournament from 1948 through 1956 and won gold in London. The oldest living Olympic fencing medalist is now Daniel Dagallier, born June 11, 1926, who competed in épée in 1952 and 1956 and took bronze with the French team at the latter edition. Finally, Hungarian sport shooter Zoltán Sándor, born March 28, 1926, is now the oldest survivor of the 1964 Tokyo Games.

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.

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