Two Recent Olympic Medal Mysteries

Today on Oldest Olympians we want to cover two recent Olympic medal mysteries. As a reminder, these are Olympians who won an Olympic medal during their careers, but for whom we have no indication of whether they are alive or deceased as of their 90th birthday.

Teijiro Tanikawa – Member of Japan’s swimming delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Teijiro Tanikawa, born December 20, 1932, represented Japan in the 4×200 metres freestyle relay at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where he won a silver medal. He also competed at the 1954 Asian Games and took gold in that event, in addition to silver in the individual 100 metres freestyle. Aside from this, however, we have been unable to find any additional details about his life, including whether or not he is still alive.

Igor Kashkarov – Member of the Soviet track and field delegation to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics

Igor Kashkarov, born May 5, 1933, represented the Soviet Union in the high jump at the 1956 Melbourne Games, where he won a bronze medal. He also took silver in that event at the 1961 Universiade and was fourth at the 1958 European Championships. Domestically, he was Soviet Champion in 1955 and 1959 and later worked as an athletics coach. Russian Wikipedia has a possible date of death of May 4, 2004, but even that page questions whether or not this is accurate.

Finally, just to finish off our list of mysteries, we wanted to mention the case of Víctor Flores. Flores was a member of Peru’s fencing delegation to the 1936 Berlin Olympics and was entered into the individual sabre competition, but did not start. He did, however, carry his nation’s flag in the opening ceremonies, but we otherwise know little about him. Our research suggests that he is likely Victor Alberto Flores Garrido, born October 15, 1908 in Catacaos and died January 29, 1985 in Lima, but we have been unable to prove this conclusively.

More Updates on the Oldest Olympians

Yesterday on Oldest Olympians, we announced the death of Edna Child, born October 16, 1922, who died in May. At the time of her death, she was the oldest living British Olympian, as well as the oldest living Olympic diver. As we have done in the past, therefore, we wanted to provide an update on who now holds those titles.

The oldest British Olympian is now Jack Whitford, born January 3, 1924, who recently turned 99. Whitford represented Great Britain in the tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where he was 21st with the national team and had a best individual finish of joint-69th in the pommelled horse. He was also chosen to take part in the 1948 London Olympics, but broke his arm prior to the competition and did not take part. His brother, Arthur, was a 10-time national champion, while Jack won three titles. His wife, Pat Evans, was also an Olympic gymnast and lived to be 93.

The oldest living Olympic diver is now Birte Christoffersen-Hanson, born March 28, 1924, who was already the oldest living Olympic medalist in diving, as well as the oldest living Olympian to have won a medal for Denmark. Christoffersen-Hanson represented Denmark 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.

Finally, we wanted to raise the case of Abdallah Sidani, born in 1923, whom we have believed to be the oldest living Lebanese Olympian and Olympic wrestler for many years. Unfortunately, we have not heard of any updates since 2015, when he was alive and living in Saudi Arabia and, without any announcement of a 100th birthday, we have decided to remove him from the living list. With weightlifter Moustafa Laham, born October 21, 1929, who lived in the United States and whom we believed for some time to be still alive, having possibly died in August 2014, there is only one Lebanese Olympian remaining on our table: three-time Olympic alpine skier Jean Keyrouz, born in 1931. As for the oldest living Olympic wrestler, that distinction now goes to Pakistan’s Muhammad Ashraf, born October 11, 1927, who competed in the lightweight, freestyle event in 1956.

Swiss Olympic Missing Links

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to look at a few more Olympic mysteries from our list, all of which are competitors who represented Switzerland. 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.

Edgar Juillerat – Member of Switzerland’s weightlifting delegation to the 1924 Paris Olympics

Edgar Juillerat, born in 1887, represented Switzerland in the featherweight weightlifting tournament at the 1924 Paris Games, where he placed eighth. Unfortunately, we do not know anything else about his career or life, so we cannot confirm that the grave in Riehen for an Edgar Juillerat, born March 20, 1887 and died June 30, 1967, is for the Olympian.

Ernst Mumenthaler – Member of Switzerland’s wrestling delegation to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

Ernst Mumenthaler of Zürich represented Switzerland in the lightweight, Greco-Roman wrestling tournament at the 1928 Amsterdam Games, where he lost two bouts in a row and was eliminated after round two. In Mumenthaler’s case, we do not even have an approximate year of birth, although we do know that an Ernst Mumenthaler born in 1902 died in 1985 and may be the Olympian.

Alfred Jauch – Member of Switzerland’s wrestling delegation to the 1948 London Olympics

Alfred Jauch, like Mumenthaler, represented Switzerland as a lightweight, Greco-Roman wrestler, although he did so at the 1948 London Games and withdrew after round one. We know a little bit more about Jauch, however, who was the junior national champion in 1940 and a welterweight senior champion in 1951. We are not certain, however, if the Alfred Jauch born January 14, 1923 and died April 28, 2006, who is buried in Riehen, is the Olympian.

Kugelstosser Willy Senn, 1950 (Photo by RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Willy Senn – Member of Switzerland’s athletics delegation to the 1948 London Olympics

Willy Senn of Basel, born February 25, 1920, represented Switzerland in the shot put at the 1948 London Games, where he placed 13th overall. He also competed in that event at the 1954 European Championships and placed 23rd. A Willy Senn born May 25, 1920 died October 27, 1989 and was buried in Basel, but we cannot yet be certain that this was the Olympian.

Finally, we have only one more Olympic mystery left on our list that we want to share, even though he is not Swiss. Mohamed Zulficar, born September 4, 1918, represented Egypt in five fencing events between two editions of the Games – 1948 and 1952 – with a best finish of fourth in the team foil at the latter edition. He was a silver medalist in the team sabre at the 1951 Mediterranean Games and won six bronze medals at the World Championships between 1947 and 1951. We found a note of gratitude from the family of the late Mohamed Zulficar Bey posted in Al-Ahram on September 24, 1980 but, as we have thus far been unable to locate the actual obituary, we cannot confirm that the deceased was the Olympian, even though it seems likely.

More New Titleholders Among the Oldest Olympians

Recently, we have unfortunately noted the deaths of two more Olympians, Zdeněk Košta and Renyldo Ferreira, who held multiple distinctions among the oldest Olympians. Košta was the oldest living Olympic cyclist and Olympian to have represented Czechoslovakia, while Ferreira was the oldest living Brazilian Olympian and the oldest survivor of the 1960 Rome Games. Given that these titles have now changed hands, we wanted to provide a brief update of who holds them now.

(Charles Coste)

The oldest living Olympic cyclist is now France’s Charles Coste, born February 8, 1924, who recently turned 99. He won gold in the team pursuit, 4000 metres event at the 1948 London Games and was already the oldest living French Olympic medalist and the oldest living Olympic cycling medalist. The oldest living Olympian to have represented Czechoslovakia is trickier. Růžena Košťálová, born February 21, 1924, is still alive according to 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, thus we have continued to list her as alive, although we cannot be entirely certain. If Košťálová were deceased, however, then 1952 gymnast Jindřich Mikulec, born May 11, 1928, would be the oldest living Olympian to have represented Czechoslovakia.

(Birte Christoffersen)

The oldest survivor of the 1960 Rome Games, meanwhile, is now Birte Christoffersen, born March 28, 1924, who represented Denmark in diving in 1948, winning a bronze medal on the platform, and then Sweden in 1956 and 1960. She is the oldest living Olympic medalist in diving, as well as the oldest living Olympian to have won a medal for Denmark. The oldest living Brazilian Olympian is Edson Perri, born June 5, 1928, who represented his country in the water polo tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games.

Finally, we have an update on one more Olympic mystery. Sergey Kalinin, born December 23, 1926, represented the Soviet Union in two editions of the Olympic trap shooting tournament, placing 22nd in 1964, but winning bronze in 1960. We had previously believed that he was still alive, but were not certain, and our suspicions were verified when we learned that he had died October 17, 1997.

1936 Olympic Boxing Non-Starters

To keep up our momentum of blog posting, today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to look at boxers from the 1936 Berlin Olympics who did not start in their events. As non-starters, we often know less about these athletes than others, so we wanted to feature a few in this post to see if we can bring their contributions to the world of sport to greater light.

Three of the seven individuals that we are covering were members of the Peruvian delegation. Pedro Rodríguez did not start as a flyweight, and his name is so common that we have been unable to uncover any additional information about him. This is also the case for Máximo Valdez, who did not start the featherweight competition. Finally, Zacarías Flores was entered into the welterweight division, but did not compete. Flores turned professional after the Games and contested bouts through 1945, amassing a known record of 5-13-0. We do not, however, have any biographical details on him.

(José Llobera, pictured at BoxRec)

In that same division, Spain’s Antonio Zúñiga was also a non-starter. Zúñiga was the Spanish national welterweight champion in 1934 and 1935, and he had his first professional bout in 1939. In a career that lasted through 1942, he had a record of 11-5-1. José Llobera, whose surname is also seen as Llovera, was Spain’s entry in the featherweight division and he turned professional at the end of 1936. By his last bout in 1947, he had amassed a record of 40-10-2 and become fairly well-known, yet we were unable to uncover his biographical data.

In the lightweight division, José Portillo was one of two non-starters for Spain, the other being the better-known José García Álvarez. While we have biographical data on García, we know nothing about Portillo. Finally, Paulino Rodríguez, who did not start in the middleweight division, was from Irún and was 19 at the time of the Games. Although it is possible that he is alive, he is most likely deceased, although we do not know when.

While we are on the topic of Spanish-speaking nations, we wanted to thank Hernan Macchiavello, who discovered that Argentine cyclist Héctor Acosta, who we mentioned in the last blog post, died November 1, 1973 in Rosario. Finally, in an update to a much older blog post, we were able to confirm that the Mario Astaburuaga Ariztia, who was born on July 4, 1904 and died in 1951, was the Chilean Olympic swimmer from 1928.

1933 Olympic Missing Links

As it has been a while since we covered new Olympic missing links, and since we want to keep up the momentum of blog posts, today on Oldest Olympians we are going to focus on Olympic missing links who were born in 1933. 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.

Héctor Acosta – Member of Argentina’s cycling delegations to the 1960 and 1964 Summer Olympics

Héctor Acosta, born December 9, 1933, represented Argentina in two editions of the Olympic cycling tournament. In 1960, he was a member of the 4000 metres, team pursuit that was eliminated in the quarterfinals, while in 1964 he came in fourth in the 100 kilometers team time trial. He was also a three-time medalist at the Pan-American Games: gold and bronze in 1959 in the team road race and team 4000 metres pursuit respectively, and silver in the pursuit in 1963. Spanish Wikipedia has a year of death for him of 1978, but we have been unable to verify this.

Ulla Petersen – Member of Denmark’s equestrian delegations to the 1972 and 1976 Summer Olympics

Ulla Petersen, born May 27, 1933, represented Denmark in two editions of the Olympic equestrian dressage tournament. In 1972, she was 14th individually and fourth with the team, while in 1976 she was eighth individually and sixth with the team. lists an Ulla Merete Holm-Petersen (her full name) as having died in 2003 in Birkerød. This individual, however, has a year of birth of 1934, so while it seems very likely to be the Olympian, we cannot confirm it.

Iosif Szilaghi – Member of Romania’s fencing delegation to the 1960 Rome Olympics

Iosif Szilaghi, born October 10, 1933, represented Romania in the team foil fencing event at the 1960 Rome Games and was eliminated in round one. Someone on Wikipedia changed his year of birth to 1931 and added a date of death of September 21, 2022 in Bucharest, but did not provide a source, and we have been unable to find one.

Amar Singh Sokhi – Member of India’s cycling delegation to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics

Amar Singh Sokhi, born July 2, 1935, represented India in three cycling events at the 1964 Tokyo Games. He was eliminated in the first round of both the individual and team pursuit over 4000 metres on the track, while on the road the Indian team failed to finish the 100 kilometers time trial. Although he was born a few years off of 1933, it is possible that Szilaghi was as well, so we have decided to include him in this blog. Multiple sources confirm that Sokhi died prior to 2021, but the only clue we have to his exact date of death is a Wikipedia post that claims that he died July 13, 1993 in New Delhi.

1936 Olympic Art Competitors

Today on Oldest Olympians, we wanted to continue our streak of blogging by take a very brief look at art competitors from the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Specifically, we wanted to highlight the five artists for whom we have no biographical data, and who we have not yet covered on this blog.

(An art scroll by Suzuko Ito)

Two of the artists – Suzuko Ito and Takahiso Kato – represented Japan. We know a little about Ito, who entered a painting into an unknown event in 1936 and was a traditional artist who exhibited at several national exhibitions in Japan. About Kato, who submitted an ice hockey painting into an unknown category, we know nothing at all.

The other three are Europeans. The one about whom we know the most is German Hans Schlottmann, who was a construction manager for the well-known architect Werner March. He served in the military during World War II and became a Russian prisoner of war. Upon his return to Germany in 1949, he continued his architectural work, which was his field at the 1936 art competitions. We believe that he deceased, we just do not know when. For Hans Luckasch of Austria, who entered the compositions for orchestra competition, we know only that he had won a prize in Vienna a year earlier for one of his pieces. Yet we know the least about Jean-Pierre Romuald, who represented Belgium in one of the painting events and lived in Verviers.

Finally, thanks to Connor Mah, we now know the full biographical details of two Austrian women who competed at Berlin and were featured previously on Oldest Olympians. Therese Rampel, who was 16th in the platform diving event, was actually Theresia Rampl, born January 14, 1906 and died July 19, 1969. Elli von Kropiwnicki, who was a member of the 4×100 metres freestyle relay team that was eliminated in round one, was born November 11, 1915, and went missing during World War II.

Three Birthdays

Today on Oldest Olympians, we have three important birthdays to celebrate and, since there is no fair way to choose between them, we have decided to feature them all in a blog post!

First of all, Miguel Seijas is turning 93 as the oldest living Olympian from Uruguay! Seijas represented his country in double sculls rowing at two editions of the Games, winning bronze in 1952 and being eliminated in the round one repêchage in 1956.

Swedish bobsledder Carl-Erik Eriksson is also turning 93 today! Eriksson represented his country in a record six Olympic tournaments from 1964 through 1984, in the two- and four-man every year except 1968, when he only competed in the two-man. His best result was in the two-man in 1972, where he finished sixth. By career, he ran companies that supplied bobsleigh equipment, but also served as a national coach and on the board of the national federation. Due to his longevity in the sport, he is the oldest living survivor of the 1972, 1976, 1980, and 1984 Winter Olympics. He now lives in Färentuna.

Finally, Chiharu Igaya is turning 92 as Japan’s oldest Olympic medalist! Igaya represented his country in nine alpine skiing events across three editions of the Games – 1952, 1956, and 1960 – and won a silver medal in the slalom in 1956. He also took bronze at the World Championships in that event in 1958. By career he worked in insurance, but also served in sport administration, most notably as a member of the IOC since 1982.

As a small addition, we are also only one day off of an Olympic mystery that was recently solved. Leonid Shcherbakov, born April 7, 1927, won a silver medal for the Soviet Union in the triple jump at the 1952 Helsinki Games, but he was an Olympic medal mystery for a long time, as we did not know whether or not he was still alive. It turned out, however, that he was deceased, having died May 19, 2004, at the age of 77.

The 1936 Military Ski Patrol Demonstration

Since we have been covering demonstration events recently on this blog, we decided today to look at one from the Winter Games: the military ski patrol. Military patrol is a sport that combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting and is the ancestor to the biathlon event of the present day. It was an official sport at the 1924 Chamonix Olympics, and was a demonstration event in 1928, 1936, and 1948. As demonstration events, we often know less about these athletes than others, and we have featured some of them before in our Olympic mysteries. Today, we wanted to mention some of those who competed at the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirschen Games.

(Franz Hiermann)

Nine teams of four men took part in the 1936 tournament, with Italy, Finland, and Sweden taking the three podium spots. We have full biographical data on all of those competitors, so our first mystery comes from the fourth-placed Austrian team, as we are missing information on Franz Hiermann, aside from the fact that he was a national champion in this sport in 1934. Similarly, the sixth-placed French team has one member, Jean Morand, who we have been unable to identify.

Switzerland and Poland, meanwhile, who were ranked seventh and ninth respectively, each have two competitors for whom we have no information. In Switzerland’s case, they are Josef Jauch and Eduard Waser, while for Poland their names are Adam Rzepka and Jean Pydych.

Finally, since we are mentioning a French Olympic mystery, we thought that we would share some of the cases that we mentioned previously that have now been solved. Field hockey player Pierre de Lévaque was actually Patrice Delévaque, who was born September 10, 1892, while his 1928 teammate Maurice Lanet was actually Maxime Lanet, born November 12, 1898 and died December 4, 1947. Similarly, from 1928, wrestler Henri Deniel turned out to be Hervé Deniel, born February 14, 1899 and died December 11, 1951, while Jean Pierre Rouanet was Jean Paul Rouanet, born March 28, 1894 and died July 21, 1979. Finally, Connor Mah was able to find biographical data for two more 1928 Olympic mysteries: rower Léon le Cornu was born October 15, 1905 and died November 5, 1977, while boxer Robert Galataud was born May 19, 1907 and died November 7, 1978.

Gliding at the Olympics

Recently on the Oldest Olympians blog, we noted an Italian competitor by the name of “Beselli” who took part in the gliding demonstration event at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and about whom we knew nothing. Diego Rossetti was able to discover that this competitor’s name was actually Mario Peselli, although he has yet to uncover full biographical data. Thus, since we have mentioned this topic, we wanted to go into a little more depth about what this demonstration event was.

(Depiction of Ignaz Stiefsohn)

As a competitive sport, gliding is the use of unpowered aircraft to fly long distances via air currents. The event at the 1936 Games was not ranked, but 20 competitors from 7 countries took part in demonstrations, although one, Austrian Ignaz Stiefsohn, died in a crash while preparing for the event. Of the other 18 competitors, we have biographical data for 15 of them.

(Peter von Lerch)

For the remaining three, we have full names for two of them, and even a picture of one: Austrian Peter von Lerch. Von Lerch remained active in the sport until at least World War II, although we do not have any additional information beyond this point. Another, Aleksandar Stanojević, who represented Yugoslavia, has a common enough name that we were not able to find any specific biographical details for the glider. For the final competitor, Gerbrecht of Germany, we have only a surname.

Finally, on the topic of “almost Olympians”, in a previous blog entry we mentioned French boxer G. Guillotin, a reserve in the light-heavyweight division at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, about whom we knew nothing. Thanks to research by Connor Mah, we now know that he was Georges Guillotin, born December 20, 1906 and died November 9, 1983.

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