1932 Olympic Missing Links

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to engage a topic that we have not discussed for a while: Olympic missing links. In particular, we want to look at those individuals who were born in 1932 and for whom we think we have found information on their date of death, but cannot make the connection for certain. We have six such Olympians on our list.

Konstantinos Papadimas – Member of Greek’s basketball squad at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Konstantinos “Kostas” Papadimas, born in 1932, represented Greece in the basketball tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where his nation was eliminated in the qualification round. The team had better luck at the 1955 Mediterranean Games, where it won a bronze medal, and it also competed at the 1951 edition. Domestically, Papadimas played for Panellinios B.C. and won national championships in 1953, 1955, and 1957. The Greek Wikipedia lists him as having died in May 2021, at the age of 89, but we have not seen any reports to confirm this.

Simon Tait – Member of Great Britain’s sailing delegation to the 1972 Munich Olympics

Simon Tait, born October 31, 1932, represented Great Britain in Dragon class sailing at the 1972 Munich Games and placed 12th. A member of the Oxford & Cambridge Sailing Society, he was prolific domestically and internationally, competing at the European Championships in the 1960s. The death of a Simon Tait, born October 31, 1931, was registered at Kensington & Chelsea, London, England in February 1997, but we have thus far been unable to confirm that this is the Olympian.

(Sadegh Ali Akbarzadeh Khoi, pictured at the top left at Boxing Iran)

Sadegh Ali Akbarzadeh Khoi – Member of Iran’s boxing delegations to the 1960 and 1964 Summer Olympics

Sadegh Ali Akbarzadeh Khoi, born September 3, 1932, represented Iran in two editions of the Olympic bantamweight boxing tournament, being eliminated in his first bout in both 1960 and 1964. A member of the national team from 1957 through 1964, he was a featherweight at the 1958 Asian Games, before moving up to bantamweight. He is definitely deceased, and English Wikipedia has a year of death of 2007, but we have not been able to confirm that for certain.

Juan Carlos Gómez – Member of Argentina’s rowing delegations to the 1964 and 1968 Summer Olympics

Juan Carlos Gómez, born May 9, 1932, represented Argentina in two editions of the Olympic rowing tournament, coming in 12th in the double sculls in 1964 and 8th in the coxed fours in 1968. He had much more success at the Pan American Games, winning the coxless fours in 1951 and 1955 and coming in second in the coxed fours in 1967. An individual of this name and the correct age died December 17, 1982 in La Plata but, because his name is fairly common, we cannot say for certain that this is the Olympian.

Camilo Pedro – Member of Hong Kong’s sport shooting delegation to the 1976 Montreal Olympics

Camilo Pedro, born August 3, 1932, represented Hong Kong in the free pistol, 50 meters shooting event at the 1976 Montreal Games, where he placed 46th. Unlike most of the names on this list, we do not know much about him, although an individual with this name and date of birth died in Millbrae, San Mateo, California on September 12, 2004. Unfortunately, since we know of no connection between Pedro and the United States, we cannot confirm that this record is for the Olympian.

Fritz Vogelsang – Member of Switzerland’s athletics delegation to the 1960 Rome Olympics

Fritz Vogelsang, born November 17, 1932, represented Switzerland in the decathlon at the 1960 Rome Games, where he placed 11th. He was also selected for the 100 meters dash at 1956 Melbourne Olympics, but did not actually compete. He did, however, take part in the 1954 European Championships decathlon, placing 9th among 19 entrants. We located the grave of a Fritz Vogelsang, born 1932, who died in 2000 in Bottmingen, Switzerland, but we are unsure if this is the Olympian.

1928 British Olympic Mysteries

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to return to a more traditional type of post by looking at more competitors from the 1928 Olympics, both winter and summer. In particular, we wanted to raise the case of four representatives of Great Britain whom research has thus far been unable to identify with much certainty.

Thomas Skinner – Member of Great Britain’s sailing delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

Thomas Skinner was a crew member of the ship Feo, which competed in the 8 metres sailing class at the 1928 Amsterdam Games and placed seventh out of the eight teams in the regatta. All we know for certain is that he was a ship owner, and thus we suspect he may have been Sir Thomas Gordon Skinner, born December 29, 1899 in London and died November 22, 1972 in Cape Town, South Africa. Unfortunately, we have been unable to connect this individual to the Olympics for certain.

John Rogers – Member of Great Britain’s ice hockey team at the 1928 St. Moritz Olympics

Goalkeeper John Rogers, born August 22, 1910, represented Great Britain in the ice hockey tournament at the 1928 St. Moritz Games, where the nation placed fourth. He also played with the national team at the 1929 World Championships and was probably a reserve on the 1930 and 1931 squads as well. Domestically, he played with the University of Oxford and the London Lions. We know more about him than the other three, as he was the son of a Liverpool cotton-broker who lived in South Africa. He married Mary Bailey, daughter of diamond tycoon Abe Bailey, and settled in South Africa. The couple’s divorce in 1958 is the last trace we have of Rogers, and thus his subsequent fate is unknown.

(C. D. Griffiths, with his head turned, in a 1927 photograph)

David Griffiths – Member of Great Britain’s bobsled delegation to the 1928 St. Moritz Olympics

David Griffiths was a member of the Great Britain I bobsled team that placed 10th among 23 starters in the four/five man bobsled event at the 1928 St. Moritz Games. Newspapers occasionally listed him as C. D. Griffiths, which may mean that he was Charles David Griffiths, who was born March 29, 1898 and died January 16, 1963. Without further information, however, we cannot be sure.

John Gee – Member of Great Britain’s bobsled delegation to the 1928 St. Moritz Olympics

John Gee was a member of the other British bobsled team at the 1928 St. Moritz Games, which placed slightly higher in ninth. The most mysterious competitor of the four, it seems that newspaper clippings about the event do not even mention him, and thus we have no clues to his possible identity.

On the subject of the 1928 St. Moritz Olympics, there are a few more mystery competitors that we have not yet covered on this blog, primarily because we know almost nothing about them. Rafael and Horacio Iglesias represented Argentina with the bobsled teams that placed fourth and fifth respectively in the four/five man. In that same event, Frenchman Michel Baur was on the 14th-placed French team and Ferdinand Langer was disqualified with the Austria 1 squad for having an incomplete team at a finish line. Finally, Frenchman Marcel Beraud competed in the Nordic combined event, but did not complete the 18 kilometer course.

That is all that we have for today, although we did want to share a link from Bill Shander, who used data from Olympedia to demonstrate some interesting results about age and the Olympics. You can check out his article here: https://billshander.com/dataviz/oldlympics

Růžena Košťálová

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to celebrate the birthday of Růžena Košťálová of Czechoslovakia, who we believed to be turning 98 as the oldest living Olympic canoeist. There is, however, some discrepancy as to whether or not that is the case.

First, a brief biography. Košťálová was one half of the silver medal-winning Czechoslovakian team in the Kayak Doubles, 500 metres event at the 1948 World Championships, which led to her selection to represent 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.

We based our belief that she is still alive on this 2020 document from the Czech Olympic Committee. A comprehensive 2021 work by František Kolář, however, Encyklopedie olympioniků. Čeští a českoslovenští sportovci na olympijských hrác, lists her, on page 178, as having died in January 2013. Both sources seem very reliable, and thus it is plausible that either are mistaken, so we have continued to list her as alive, although we cannot be entirely certain. Were Košťálová deceased, however, then Belgium’s Anna Van Marcke, born April 18, 1924, would be the oldest living Olympic canoeist.

(José Pérez)

There are several other Olympians on our living list that have had dates of death posted for them on Wikipedia. Dutch gymnast Klara Post, born July 5, 1926, is alleged to have died on January 12 of this year in Alkmaar. American wrestler Bill Borders, born March 3, 1930, is claimed to have died on January 27 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Mexican modern pentathlete José Pérez, born October 10, 1928, is said to have died at some point before the 18th of January. Finally, Romanian athlete Emma Konrad, born November 21, 1929, purportedly died May 16, 2021. In none of these cases have we been able to verify this information, and we do not trust additions to Wikipedia out of hand, so if anyone has any confirmation one way or the other, it would be greatly appreciated.

Finally, we wanted to thank the contributor who located an obituary for Swiss rower Kurt Schmid, born February 11, 1932, who we discussed in our last post, and was able to confirm that he did die on December 2, 2000.

Mirza Khan and Edward Shaske

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to briefly cover the recent deaths of two Olympic nonagenarians who were not on our main lists, but require a little more explanation as to why they were not. Thus we wanted to ensure that we had sufficient space to expand upon their circumstances.

(Mirza Khan, pictured at the Athletics Federation of Pakistan)

Mirza Khan, born December 15, 1924, was a soldier in the Pakistan Army when he represented his country at the 1952 Helsinki Games. He was eliminated in the opening round of both the 400 metres hurdles and the 4×400 metres relay, but had more success at the 1954 Asian Games, where he won gold in the 400 metres hurdles.

In 2013, someone edited Wikipedia to claim that he was still alive in living in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada as Akram Baig Mirza. While this was not the most reliable of sources, we listed him among as the oldest living Olympian from Pakistan, because we believe that the editor was acting in good faith. At the end of 2020, however, we were forwarded information that Akram Baig Mirza may have died in 2014, so we removed him for our list.

As it turned out, however, earlier this month an announcement was made that Khan died January 26 at the age of 97. As this is the most official news we have heard, we assume that our earlier information was incorrect and that he remained the oldest living Olympian from Pakistan until his death.

(Edward Shaske, pictured in his obituary)

Edward Shaske, born December 20, 1927, represented Canada in the trap shooting event at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, where he placed 16th. He also competed at the World Championships in 1969 and 1979 and helped organize them in 1983 when they came to Edmonton. He also worked as a coach for the national team, first at the boycotted 1980 Moscow Olympics, then officially in 1984, 1988, and 1992. By career, he was in real estate.

Shaske died December 28, 2021, at the age of 94, but he was never on our lists because he was originally in the Olympedia database with a date of death in 1982. We were able to clarify this error as stemming from his son, Edward Shaske, Jr., also a sport shooter, who was on the Olympic team of 1980 that did not travel and was a much-touted prospect for the 1984 edition, but died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 1982.

Finally, while we are on the topic of Olympic mysteries, we wanted to raise the case of Swiss rower Kurt Schmid, born February 11, 1932, who would have turned 90 recently if still alive. Schmid represented his country in the coxless pairs at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, winning a bronze medal, and also competed in the coxless fours in 1960, placing sixth. German Wikipedia lists him as dying on December 2, 2000, but sourced to his rowing club, and thus we have been unable to verify the accuracy of this information.

2022 Fast Facts

One month into 2022 and with the Beijing Winter Olympics now upon us, 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, Félix Sienra, born January 21, 1916, pictured with the cane in 2019 at the website of Yacht Club Uruguayo)

As of today our full list contains 2387 participants, non-starters, demonstration athletes, and art competitors born between 1912 and 1931 that could be living, 635 of which we believe to be living for certain. The former number is down from 2453 and the latter from 641 from the beginning of last year.

(Austrian middleweight weightlifter Franz Nitterl, who competed at the 1928 Amsterdam Games and about whom we know nothing)

We also have 373 Olympians (down from 422 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.

We had 13 living Olympic centenarians at the end of 2021, as we know of only two who died last year. We also know of two survivors from the oldest editions of the Olympics with living participants, 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!

Recently Deceased Field Hockey Medalists

Recently, two members of India’s silver medal-winning field hockey team at the 1960 Rome Olympics died at the age of 90, and we wanted to cover them in a quick blog entry to celebrate their life and sporting legacies.

(Jaswant Singh, pictured at Stick2Hockey.com)

The first is Jaswant Singh, born August 10, 1931, who died January 14. His appearance in Rome was his only Olympic performance, but he was nearly selected for the 1956 edition, before being chosen to pursue officer training in the Indian Army instead. He retired from active competition in 1961 and had a lengthy career in the military.

(Charanjit Singh, pictured at The Times of India)

The second is Charanjit Singh, born February 22, 1931, who died January 27. In addition to taking silver in Rome, he also won a gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, as well as silver at the 1962 Asian Games. By career, he worked in the Department of Physical Education at Himachal Pradesh University.

Additionally, we wanted to note the recent death of one more Olympic field hockey medalist: German Werner Delmes, born September 28, 1930, died January 13 at the age of 91. He also competed at the Rome Olympics, where Germany placed seventh, but had had better luck in 1956, where he took home a bronze medal. He later coached the national team to a gold medal at the 1972 Munich Games.

Félix Sienra and Rhoda Wurtele

Today on Oldest Olympians we have two very exciting birthdays to celebrate and, since we could not choose which one to feature, we decided to feature them both in one quick blog post!

(Sienra, pictured after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination at Telenoche)

The first birthday is that of Uruguayan sailor Félix Sienra, the oldest living Olympian, who turns 106 today! Sienra represented his country in the Firefly class at the 1948 London Olympics, where he placed sixth. A lawyer by profession, he was much better known in Uruguay as a sports administrator, particularly with Yacht Club Uruguayo, where he served as Commodore from 1973 through 1975 and again from 2003 through 2005. He was also the Vice President of the Uruguayan Olympic Committee and worked with Panathlon Club Montevideo. He is the longest-lived Uruguayan Olympian and one of only three Olympians to have reached the age of 106!

(Rhoda Wurtele, pictured in a clip from My Canadian Moment)

The second is that of Canadian alpine skier Rhoda Wurtele, who turns 100 today! Both her and her twin sister Rhona, who died in 2020 at the age of 97, reached the top of the national skiing scene, with Rhona competing in the Olympics in 1948 and Rhoda in 1952. In 1948, the already injured Rhona broke her leg near the end of the course and placed last among the finishers, while Rhoda did not compete at all due to an ankle injury. Rhona, meanwhile, did not participate in 1952, while Rhoda had her best finish of ninth in the giant slalom. Both later had careers as ski instructors and were inaugurated into multiple Halls of Fame for their pioneering efforts in the field of Canadian women’s skiing. Rhoda is only the third Canadian Olympian to reach the age of 100!

1928 German Olympic Mysteries

Germany is a country for which we have very good data for the most part. As with any nation that has participated in the Games for such a long time, however, there are bound to be a handful of competitors about whom little is known, especially for those who participated in the earlier editions. Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to take a look at a few of those competitors from 1928 about whom we know so little that they could possibly (despite it being extremely unlikely) be alive.

Hermann Volz – Member of Germany’s weightlifting delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

Hermann Volz represented Germany in the heavyweight weightlifting competition at the 1928 Summer Games where, despite setting a joint Olympic record in the snatch portion of the competition, he finished eighth out of 17 entrants. Aside from his affiliation, Turnerbund Cannstatt, we know nothing else about him.

Karl Max Reinhardt – Member of Germany’s bobsleigh delegation to the 1928 St. Moritz Olympics

Karl Max Reinhardt was on the German four/five-man bobsleigh team that finished 18th out of 23 entrants at the 1928 St. Moritz Games, while another German squad won the bronze medal. Relatively little is known about either of the teams, but Reinhardt is the only member with even a remote chance of being alive. He was a German champion in 1929, but otherwise we have been unable to uncover anything more about him.

Anton Huber – Member of Germany’s sailing delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

Anton Huber was a member of the German 6 metres sailing crew that placed 9th among 13 entrants in the tournament at the 1928 Amsterdam Games. He was also a reserve with the 12-foot dinghy crew that placed fifth in that event, but Huber did not end up taking part. Considering that all of his teammates were born in the 1800s, it seems very likely that he is deceased, although we do not have any additional information on him to be certain.

Theodor Fischer – Member of Germany’s fencing delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

Theodor Fischer represented Germany in both the individual and team épée events at the 1928 Amsterdam Games and was eliminated in the quarterfinals of both competitions. He was eighth at the national championships that same year, but otherwise we have no additional information about his career or life.

(Walter Müller)

As a footnote, there is also a German cyclist from the Amsterdam Games, P. Neymann, who was a reserve with the delegation but did not start. Without a first name, however, we have been unable to identify him further. Similarly, Fritz Lincke of Berliner SV 92 was a member of the German field hockey squad that won bronze in Amsterdam, but he did not see any playing time, and we know little else about him.

Finally, we wanted to take this time to update on a German-related topic. At the end of last year, we noted that gymnast Walter Müller, born December 31, 1930, was the oldest living Olympian to have represented Saar. We recently learned, however, that he unfortunately died on May 21, 2021, leaving his gymnastics teammate Heinz Ostheimer, born September 15, 1931, as the last surviving Olympian to have represented Saar.

Skijoring

As we try to catch up on our Olympic blog posts, we wanted to take a very brief look at one of the stranger Olympic demonstration events, at least in English-speaking countries: skijoring. At its most basic, skijoring is a skiing event where the competitors are being pulled across a racing course, traditionally by a reindeer and most popularly by horse, although often other pullers are used such as dogs, motorcycles, and snowmobiles.

(Skijoring at the 1928 St. Moritz Olympics)

Competitive skijoring has taken place in Scandinavian countries for well over a century and occasionally was contensted at the Nordic Games. This means that its appearance as a demonstration event at the 1928 St. Moritz Olympics was far from unprecedented. The race was held on a frozen lake with eight starters and was won by the Swiss Rudolf Wettstein, about whom we know nothing. The runner-up, however, was Bibi Torriani, much better known for his ice hockey career with Switzerland, as he appeared in three editions of the Olympic ice hockey tournament and won bronze in 1928 and 1948. The third-place finisher was Polish skier Henryk Mückenbrunn, who won numerous titles in more traditional skiing events, but had to withdraw from the 1924 Chamonix Olympics due to injury.

Having an unidentifiable winner of an Olympic demonstration event would probably be sufficient for an Olympic mysteries blog, but in fact Torriani and Mückenbrunn are the only two individuals that researchers have been able to identify with any certainty, and we are not even sure if the remainder are all Swiss. This is not helped by the fact that other five starters failed to complete the course. For two, we at least have full names – Peter Conrad and Fritz Kuhn – but these names are so common that, without any additional identifying information, we cannot connect anyone to the skijoring event.

From there, the information only gets sparser. For one, we at least know their first initial, F. Mordasini, while another we have only a surname: Brander. Then there is the final competitor, who rode the horse “Rival”, for whom we do not have any indication of their name whatsoever. The Olympic mysteries do not come much more mysterious than that!

Skijoring is still contested worldwide, in a variety of forms, but has never again appeared at the Olympics. There are other mysteries from the 1928 St. Moritz Games, such as the identities of French military ski patrol competitors R. Geindre and G. Périer, but skijoring seems to be the most enticing of them all. We hope you enjoyed reading briefly about the competition and that you will join us for another blog entry in the near future!

Mystery 1928 Olympic Art Competitors

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to cover a slightly more obscure topic: mystery art competitors from the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. The art competitions at the Olympic Games are a topic that is rarely touched upon, although it has been garnering more attention in recent years. There have been great strides made in connecting artists, writers, and musicians to their Olympic participation, but some remain elusive. As you might imagine, information on these individuals is scarce, if we know anything at all, and thus we will be covering these competitors only briefly and only those that are possibly (albeit extremely unlikely) to be alive.

Of the six individuals that we wish to mention today, only one was an architect: Pierre Souziff of France. Souziff entered his work “Une piscine” into the architectural competition, but as only medal winners were assigned to a specific category of the competition, he is listed among the “further entries” to the event. In searches, his name appears only in connection to the Olympics, suggesting that it was either a pseudonym or there is some error in spelling.

Of the remaining five competitors, we have full names for at least two of them. The first, Simon Frey of Switzerland, submitted the work “Sporting” into the Instrumental and Chamber Music event, a competition in which no medal was awarded. Unfortunately, Frey has the opposite problem of Souziff – his name is so common that we have been unable to identify an individual who can be linked to the Olympic submission. The second is Willy Favez, also of Switzerland, who submitted “Le Combat” (“The Fight”) to literature’s lyric works competition, but did not receive a medal. There is a Swiss Willy Favez born in 1898 who died in 1966, but we know of nothing that would tie him to the Olympian.

Two more of our mystery competitors also competed in the lyric works event. H. J. Ken of Austria submitted “Siegeskränze” (“Victory Wreaths”), but without more than initials, we have been unable to identify anything more about him. For the second, Voittout of Switzerland, we lack even initials and suspect that “Voittout” is a pseudonym. His submission for this competition was “La Défaite” (“The Defeat”), but he also competed in dramatic and epic works, with “Conflits Sportives” (“Sporting Conflicts”) and “Jarrets d’Acier” (“Ankle Joints of Steel”) respectively. The French director and cinematographer of educational shorts Edmond Floury (1887 – 1959) went by the pseudonym Voittout, but we have been unable to establish a definite connection between him and the Olympian.

The final individual on our list is B. Bosserdet of Switzerland, who submitted “Trilogie sur la Musique du Mouvement” (“Trilogy on the Music of Movement”) to music’s Compositions for Orchestra event. In this event, only one medal, bronze, was distributed, to Danish composer Rudolf Simonsen. Again, we know nothing about Bosserdet, and it is possible that his name is misspelled or a pseudonym.

That is all we have for today; an unfortunately undecorated blog entry for a post about art competitions! Nonetheless, we will return soon with a new topic and hope that you will join us!

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