Addressing Recent Removals

Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to address the topic of individuals who are removed from our lists without any formal post to acknowledge the change. This usually occurs when we discover that an individual whom we believed to have been alive actually died a year or more ago without us having known at the time. With the exception of centenarians, such as when we were a year late in discovering that Mexican equestrian Mario Becerril had died, there never seems to be an appropriate time to publish a dedicated post for someone who died a year or two earlier. Thus, while we are catching up on blog entries, we wanted to post about a few of those cases as a group.

Lois Stephens – Member of the United States’ equestrian delegation to the 1972 Munich Olympics

The case that spurred this blog post was that of American equestrian Lois Stephens, born March 27, 1923, whom we believed to be the oldest survivor of the 1972 Munich Games, and was one of two possible individuals we considered featuring on her birthday (even before we learned she was deceased, however, we decided to go with Guatemala’s oldest living Olympian, Oswaldo Johnston). Stephens represented her country at the 1972 Munich Olympics, where she came in 31st in the individual dressage and ninth with the American team. Although we noted her birthday with a post last year, we discovered a brief mention recently that she actually died in 2018, and without an exact date, it is possible that she died prior to even her 95th birthday.

Suse Heinze – Member of Germany’s diving delegation to the 1936 Berlin Games

At the beginning of this year, we believed that not only was Suse Heinze, born May 25, 1920, one of the many Olympians slated to turn 100 in 2020, but that she was the oldest living German Olympian as well. Heinze competed in the women’s springboard diving event at the 1936 Berlin Games, placing seventh, but had better luck at the 1938 European Championships, where she won a bronze medal in the 10 metre platform. Nationally, she won a total of seven titles in the platform (4) and the springboard (3). Sadly, earlier this year we were informed by historian and researcher Ralf Regnitter that Heinze had died on November 26, 2018, and was unfortunately not alive the last time we featured her on what we believed to be her 99th birthday in 2019.

(Maurice Tabet, pictured at Abdo Gedeon)

Maurice Tabet – Member of Lebanon’s sport shooting delegations to the 1960 and 1972 Summer Olympics

Finally, we had Maurice Tabet, born February 1, 1919, listed as Lebanon’s oldest Olympian for the first year of our tables, as well as the oldest living Olympian from the 1960 Rome Olympics, where he took part in trap shooting. He was also present at the 1972 Munich Games, this time as a skeet shooter, and held numerous important positions in Lebanese sports administration, including serving as president of its shooting federation from 1965 through 1970. Outside of sport, he served with the Lebanese Diplomatic Corps in several countries and was also successful in business. Unfortunately, at the end of 2018, we discovered his obituary in An-Nahar (page 17), which noted that he died January 27, 2014, well before we started oldest Olympians. Nonetheless, we were happy to have had the opportunity to feature him as one of the earliest profiles on our site.

Those are the three names that came to mind immediately for this topic, but if there are any more removals that you noticed that were not addressed, please feel free to leave us a message and we can post an update on those cases. Otherwise, we still have some blogs to write, so we hope that you will join us next time!

Paulette Veste

We are still trying to catch up on our missed blog entries here at Oldest Olympians, so we have decided to devote one to a single Olympian, French field athlete Paulette Veste, whom we believe to be still alive, but whose situation deserves a little more space than we would normally dedicate to a Twitter, or even Facebook, post.

Veste, born February 24, 1928, took up athletics during World War II and began competing in earnest after the conflict, specializing in the shot put and discus throw. She won six national titles (three each) in those events between 1948 and 1953 and attended two editions of the Olympics: in 1948 she was fourth and tenth in the shot put and discus respectively, while in 1952 she was ninth and sixteenth in the same events. In-between, she was sixth in the discus at the 1950 European Championships. She also set two official French records in the discus in 1948. Her last competitive year was 1953, after which she married and moved to the United States, settling in Florida and becoming a naturalized citizen.

(Veste, pictured at the Fédération française d’athlétisme)

The source of confusion comes from when, and if, she died. The Fédération française d’athlétisme lists her as having died on March 1, 2014, which seems straightforward enough, as their data is comprehensive and well-researched. We recently uncovered a story in the French press, however, that mentioned her as being alive at the age of 90. This was not an oversight or assumption that she was still alive; rather, it contained an interview with her and referenced activity at least as recently as 2016, if not contemporary to the article’s 2018 publishing date. While sources in the past have discussed Olympians as if they were alive, only for them to turn out deceased later, in this case we feel fairly confident that Veste is still alive, or at least was as of 2018, and that the Fédération française d’athlétisme is mistaken.

(Veste, pictured in the 2018 article)

We hope that this clarifies any confusion about why Veste is listed as alive on our tables, yet deceased on other sites. We are still in the process of catching up on blog entries, so we aim to have another one out soon and, as always, we hope you will join us for it!

Newly Discovered Centenarians

With so many birthdays and, sadly, deaths for the oldest Olympians as of late, we have had limited opportunities to write new blog posts. Today, therefore, we wanted to begin catching up by briefly covering two deceased centenarian Olympians that were discovered recently by Olympic historian Taavi Kalju. Through his research, he was able to identify literally hundreds of missing datapoints for Olympians, some of which we have already discussed, and we wanted to share a few more of his findings on this blog.

(The 6 metre race at the 1936 Berlin Games, from 1936 Summer Olympics – The Results)

Jacques Rambaud – Member of the French 6-metre class crew at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

As is the case with many sailors, outside of his Olympic participation we know very little of Jacques Rambaud, who was born April 25, 1906. At the 1936 Berlin Games, he was a member of four-time Olympic sailor Jean Peytel’s crew aboard the Qu’Importe. Alongside Claude Desouches, Gérard de Piolenc, and Yves Baudrier, they finished 10th out of 12 teams in the 6-metre event. Rambaud later moved to Switzerland and died there in Fribourg on September 14, 2006, at the age of 100 years, 142 days.

Lucie Petit-Diagre – Member of the Belgian track and field athletics team at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

On the other hand, we know much about Lucie Petit-Diagre, who was born in Paris’ 18th arrondissement on July 24, 1901. From 1921 through 1927 she was a member of the French national team, earning national titles in the two (1923) and one-handed shot put (1927), as well as the discus (1924). It was in the latter category that she set a world record of 27.70 metres and, overall, she earned seven additional French medals in those events, as well as one in the high jump. She then married a Belgian journalist and began representing that country, including at the 1928 Amsterdam Games, where she was 20th in the discus throw.

In 1929, she won her last national title, the Belgian shot put, but she continued competing through the first half of the 1930s. She also dabbled in rowing and swimming. She subsequently settled into private life and died on December 24, 2001, at the age of 100 years, 153 days. This means that from the death of American diver Hal Haig Prieste on April 15, 2001 until her own, she was the oldest living Olympian.

That is all we have for today, but we will be trying to catch up on our blog posts, so we hope that you will join us again soon!

Ernestine Lebrun

Another quick blog entry to provide a brief update today on Oldest Olympians. This time, we are updating our list of last survivors from early editions of the Games. At the time we first presented this feature, we noted that American diver and swimmer Aileen Riggin was believed to be the last known survivor from the 1920 Antwerp Games and wrote the following: “Although she died at the age of ‘only’ 96 years, 170 days on October 19, 2002, we have been unable to locate another candidate for the last survivor of the 1920 Antwerp Games, although it is certainly possible, given how much data on this edition we are missing, that another contender will emerge in the future.”

Thanks to researcher and historian Taavi Kalju, we can now identify someone from those Games who outlived Riggin by nearly three years. Swimmer Ernestine Lebrun, born February 26, 1906, represented France in two editions of the Summer Olympics, competing in four freestyle events between 1920 and 1924, but never making it past the first round. She also helped her teammates come in fifth in the 4×100 metres freestyle relay in 1924. Domestically, she won 12 national titles, as well as the women’s Traversée de Paris à la nage twice.

Lebrun married Eugène Basse in 1930 and lived as Ernestine Basse until her death on May 6, 2005, at the age of 99 years, 69 days, meaning that she long outlived Riggin and was still alive nearly 85 years after he Olympic appearance. We were unable to find any mention of her subsequent career or later activities, which suggests that she did not seek the limelight after her marriage, and perhaps this is why her death went unnoticed, at least by most of the world. Nonetheless, this new discovery gives her the status of last-known survivor of the 1920 Antwerp Games, even though she did not quite make 100 years, and updates our previous post.

Eladio Herrera

Today on Olympic Mysteries we have a quick blog entry. The subject of our inquiry is a new bronze medal mystery, Eladio Herrera, born February 9, 1930, who earned his prize in boxing for Argentina in 1952. Since we have been unable to discern whether or not he is still alive, we thought that we would provide a quick entry to see if anyone can help determine his status one way or another.

(Eladio Herrera, pictured at Boxrec.com)

Herrera competed at two editions of the Summer Olympics. In 1948 in London he finished joint-fifth in the welterweight category after besting one opponent, but losing his next bout to American Hank Herring, the upcoming silver medalist. In 1952 in Helsinki, this time as a light-heavyweight, he defeated three boxers before losing in the semi-finals to three-time gold medalist László Papp of Hungary, thus earning bronze. Herrera then returned to the welterweight division and turned professional, but contested only two bouts two years apart, winning the first and losing the second, before retiring.

Herrera turned to coaching after his active career, working out of Buenos Aires’ Almagro Boxing Club through at least the 1980s. This is where our trail for him goes cold, as we have been unable to trace his activities after this point. Thus, we are presenting his story today in the hopes that someone can let us know what became of him after this and end his tenure as a bronze medal mystery.

Micheline Lannoy

Today on the Oldest Olympians blog we wanted to revisit one of our earliest Olympic Mysteries, that of Belgian figure skater Micheline Lannoy, who was for a long time the only Olympic gold medal mystery. Since some of our readers have noticed that she has now been added as an official entry on our tables of Oldest Olympans, we felt it worthwhile to dedicate a little space to an update.

A bit of background for those unfamiliar: Lannoy and her partner Pierre Baugniet were Belgian national champions in the pairs event from 1944 through 1947. In 1947 they took both the European and World Championships, and then followed that up with victories at the Worlds and the Olympics in 1948. Despite these impressive successes, the duo ended their careers after the Games and managed to maintain a low-profile thereafter. For Baugniet, only the year of his death, 1981, is known, but for Lannoy we had been unable to discern whether or not she is alive. All we knew at our last posting is that she later moved to Canada and took the married name MacAulay.

Thanks to research conducted by Connor Mah and Rob Gilmore, however, we learned that Lannoy was living in Kingston, Ontario as recently as 2012. While it is certainly possible that she has since died, we have not seen any evidence of an obituary and this date falls within the range for which we would list someone as being alive, and thus we have included her on our tables. We hope that more recent evidence will come to light soon.

(Roger Midgley’s obituary)

While we are discussing Lannoy, we feel that it is worth updating some other previous Olympic mysteries. We already featured French track athlete Robert Chef d’Hôtel on Oldest Olympians, a former Olympic silver medal mystery who, as it turned out, had still been alive and died only recently, in October 2019, at the age of 97. Even more recently, Roger Midgley, a British field hockey player whom we had listed as a bronze medal mystery, died December 12, 2019 at the age of 95.

(Jim Hill, pictured in his obituary)

The same research into French death records by Taavi Kalju that confirmed Robert Chef d’Hôtel’s death, meanwhile, also verified that French basketball player Robert Guillin was the same individual as the one we noted previously as having died November 25, 2013. Meanwhile Connor Mah also located an obituary for silver medal-winning sport shooter Jim Hill of the United States: he died August 8, 2018 at the age of 86. Finally, Ian Taylor located a picture of the gravestone of the Ken Box who died in Australia in July 1982, which notes that he was aged 76 at the time of his death, far too old to have been the 1956 British track and field Olympian. Box, therefore, has been restored to our “possibly living” list, as we have been unable to find any confirmation that he is still alive.

And that is our entry for today! We hope that you have found these updates useful, and we will be back next week with more Olympic Mysteries!

1930 Olympic Missing Links, Part 3

Today, after some delay, Oldest Olympians is concluding its inquiry into the subject of missing links from the year 1930, which looks at cases for whom we believed to have identified their date of death but, for whatever reason, we were unable to connect the information, such as obituary or public record, conclusively to the athlete. This series examines those who were born in 1930 and who would otherwise be the newest possibilities for our list of oldest living Olympians. There are only two entries today, as we managed to solve the case of our third planned individual in the interim.

Armando Estrada – Member of Cuba’s basketball delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Armando Estrada, born January 28, 1930, was a member of the Cuban basketball squad that was eliminated in round one of the tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games, after losing all three of its round robin matches to France, Chile, and Egypt. They performed better in the qualification round, however, defeating Belgium twice (in regular play and in a playoff) and losing to Bulgaria. Unfortunately, as with so many members of team sports, this is all that we know about Estrada, but the United States Naturalization Records list an Armando Julian Estrada, born on the same day as the Olympian, becoming an American in California on October 23, 1970. The only other clue we have is an obituary that lists an Armando J. Estrada, born January 21, 1930, who died August 18, 2010 in Inglewood, California. Taken together, these clues could indicate that the individual in the obituary is the Olympian, but there is not enough evidence at any step of the way to conclude that for certain.

Kim In-Su – Member of South Korea’s volleyball delegation to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics

Kim In-Su, born August 18, 1930, took part in 10th place finish at the 1964 Tokyo Games, where the nation lost all nine of its matches. Without wanting to sound too repetitive, this is all that we could find about him, although this is not surprising given the result, as well as the language barrier. We mention him on this blog, however, because we located a grave in Virginia for a man with his name born August 20, 1930, who died November 15, 1990. Unfortunately, the name and the close date of birth is all we have for this case, as we cannot even confirm if he moved to the United States at some point after his Olympic appearance.

This concludes this series for now, but we will have more Olympic mysteries for you next week, so we hope that you will join us!

1930 Olympic Missing Links, Part 2

Today Oldest Olympians is continuing its inquiry into the subject of missing links from the year 1930, which looks at cases for whom we believed to have identified their date of death but, for whatever reason, we were unable to connect the information, such as obituary or public record, conclusively to the athlete. This month’s series examines those who were born in 1930 and who would otherwise be the newest possibilities for our list of oldest living Olympians.

Louis Desmet – Member of the Belgian track and field delegation to the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Louis Desmet, born January 5, 1930, competed in the 800 metres event at the 1952 Helsinki Games, but was eliminated in the round one heats. His international career seems to be fairly limited, making it difficult to find more information on him, but an anonymous user on the Dutch Wikipedia added a date of death of June 6, 2001 and a place of death of Anderlecht to his article. Unfortunately, they did not provide any sources and thus we are unable to confirm whether or not this information is accurate.

(Muroya pictured at the website of the Hakui High School Alumni Association)

Yoshitaka Muroya – Member of the Japanese track and field delegation to the 1952 and 1956 Summer Olympics

Yoshitaka Muroya, born April 6, 1930, competed in the same event as Desmet and experienced a similar result. Muroya, however, was much more prolific and also took part in the 4×400 metres relay in Helsinki, although he was eliminated in the opening round. He returned to the Games in 1956 in Melbourne, with the same result in the relay, but made it to the semifinals of the 800 metres. He was far more successful at the Asian Games: in 1954 he took gold in both events, as well as silver in the 1500 metres, an event in which he had been entered in Helsinki, but did not start. In 1958, he defended his titles in both events and later became a successful senior-level golfer. Japanese Wikipedia has a date of death for him of March 23, 2019, and even provides a link, but we were unable to verify the information on that website (or any other), and thus we cannot list him conclusively as having died on that date.

(The 1948 Chinese Olympic basketball team pictured in a BBC article)

Kya Iskyun – Member of the Chinese basketball team at the 1948 London Olympics

We do not know the exact date, or even year, of birth for Kya Iskyun, who represented China in the basketball tournament at the 1948 London Games, but he would be well within the range of being born c. 1930 given the date of the competition. Regardless, we know very little about him outside of his participation in the Games, where China finished 18th overall after winning three and losing two of its matches in its round-robin pool. The only information we do have comes from the Chinese Wikipedia, which claims that he died in 1989. Unfortunately, without a source provided, we have been unable to prove that this is the case.

We have a few more names remaining on our 1930-born list, so we will conclude this series next week with more Olympic missing links. We hope that you will join us!

1930 Olympic Missing Links

It is the start of a new year and, for us here at Oldest Olympians, time to examine the subject of 1930 missing links, which looks at cases for whom we believed to have identified their date of death but, for whatever reason, we were unable to connect the information, such as obituary or public record, conclusively to the athlete. These cases in particular examine those who were born in 1930 and who would otherwise be the newest possibilities for our list of oldest living Olympians. We have a significant number of these individuals this year, and thus we will be splitting this topic across several blog entries over the next few weeks.

(Marcel Troupel, pictured at a 2014 ceremony at the Société des Régates d’Antibes)

Marcel Troupel – Member of France’s sailing delegation to the 1972 Munich Olympics

Marcel Troupel, born May 6, 1930, represented France in the Tempest class sailing tournament at the 1972 Munich Games, where he and his partner Yves Devillers, 18 years his junior, placed ninth in a field of 21 teams, having won the first race, but falling further behind as the competition progressed. While sometimes knowledge about Olympic sailors can be obscure, Troupel distinguished himself as a World Champion by winning the 505 class in 1968 alongside the non-Olympian Philippe Lanaverre. He was honored for this feat (among others) in 2014, so we know that he was still alive at this point, but the only trace we have been able to locate since then is a handful of obituaries for a man with the same name from October 2019. We suspect that this is the Olympian, given the uncommonness of his name, but without an age, let alone mention of his sailing career, we are unable to confirm this fact.

Hugo Vonlanthen – Member of Switzerland’s field hockey squad at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

Hugo Vonlanthen, born June 12, 1930, represented Switzerland in the field hockey tournament at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where the nation lost its round one match against Austria, but defeated France in the consolation round to place ninth overall. Like many field hockey players, this is the extent of what we know about him, although we did locate an obituary for someone with his uncommon name who died April 28, 2009. While the age of this individual was one year off, an archival website notes that person who died on that date was born in 1930. Unfortunately, neither source gives a full date of birth or any indication that he was the field hockey player, and thus he remains for now a missing link.

William Fajardo – Member of Mexico’s fencing delegation to the 1960 and 1968 Summer Olympics

William Fajardo, born October 15, 1930, was a member of two Mexican Olympic fencing delegations. In 1960 in Rome he took part in the individual foil and sabre, but was eliminated in the first round of both competitions. In 1968 in Mexico City, he had the same result in the individual and team sabre tournaments. He fared much better, however, at the Central American and Caribbean Games: in 1954 he took silver in the team foil and bronze in the team sabre, while in 1959 he earned bronze in both of those events, adding a fourth bronze in the team foil in 1962. He was also sixth at the 1959 Pan American Games in individual foil. Despite these accomplishments, the only hint to his later life that we were able to uncover was the record of a William Ruy Fajardo Perez who died June 14, 2002, at the age of 71 (the correct age for the fencer) in Cuauhtémoc. Without further confirmation, however, we cannot be sure that this is a record for the Olympian.

Ken Box – Member of Great Britain’s track and field delegation to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics

Ken Box, born December 1, 1930, represented Great Britain in two track events at the 1956 Melbourne Games. He was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 100 metres sprint, while in the 4×100 metres relay he came in fifth with the British team. He was also entered into the long jump, but did not start the competition. Internationally, his best result came at the 1954 European Championships, where he brought home a silver medal from the 4×100 metres relay. He also represented England at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, being eliminated in the heats of the 100 metres and just missing the podium in fourth in the 4×110 yards relay. He attempted to qualify for the 1960 Rome Olympics in the long jump, but did not succeed and thus retired. He later moved to Australia and we located an obituary for a Kenneth James Box (his full name) who died in Gympie, Queensland in July 1982. Unfortunately, the obituary does not give any details, not even an age, that would suggest that this was the athlete, while a 2012 article on him was written as if he were alive, although it did not explicitly say so. Thus, we are left with another Olympic mystery.

We will continue this series next week with more Olympians who reside currently on our list of missing links. We hope that you will join us!

Last Verified Living in 2009

With another new year upon us, we here at Oldest Olympians felt that it was time to review those Olympians whose last confirmation of being alive is the furthest away; in this case, three individuals who were last verified living in 2009, or over 10 years ago. Should no updated confirmation be forthcoming, we would have to remove them from our main table, and thus we decided it was best to dedicate another blog entry to them in the hopes of uncovering whether or not they are still with us.

(Gustavo Olguín pictured at the Sociedad Mexicana de Autores de las Artes Plástica)

Gustavo Olguín – Member of the Mexican water polo squad at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics

We have actually covered Gustavo Olguín, born April 14, 1925, in detail here on Oldest Olympians before, because we believe him to be the oldest living Mexican Olympian. Gustavo and two of his brothers represented their country in water polo at the 1952 Helsinki Games, but Mexico had the bad lack of being drawn against the upcoming Olympic champions from Hungary in the qualifying round and were thus eliminated. The holder of a visual arts degree from UCLA, Gustavo undertook a career in the arts, specializing in painting and engraving, and had his works exhibited around the world. He also had a reputation as a plant collector. Searching the internet suggests that he is still alive, but the last definite confirmation that we had comes from 2009. Unfortunately, without a later update, we will have to remove him from our lists and identify a new oldest living Mexican Olympian. We did find a website with contact information for him, but it was over 10 years old and thus we were unable to get a response.

(Brian Pickworth pictured on the right at the 1966 British Empire and Commonwealth Games)

Brian Pickworth – New Zealand’s lone fencer at the 1960 Rome Olympics

Brian Pickworth, born August 10, 1929, represented New Zealand in all three fencing disciplines at the 1960 Rome Games, being eliminated in the first round of the foil and sabre competitions and the second round of the épée tournament. He had more luck at the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, winning bronze in the team sabre, and also competed at the 1958, 1966, and 1970 editions of that tournament. Perhaps the most interesting fact, however, is that he accomplished all of this after losing his left arm above the elbow to a shooting accident at the age of 21, which derailed his rugby career. We located some evidence that he was still alive in 2009, and his name is not found in the New Zealand Death Index, so we presume that he is still alive, but have been unable to find any confirmation.

Norman Shutt – Representative for Great Britain in biathlon and cross-country skiing at the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics

Norman Shutt, born November 9, 1929, represented Great Britain in both biathlon and cross-country skiing at the 1960 Squaw Valley Games. In the former sport, he was 30th in the 20 km competition, while in the latter he was 52nd in the 15 km. By career, he was a police officer. His family posted a tribute to his 80th birthday back in 2009, but we have been unable to confirm whether or not he reached his 90th birthday a decade later.

Unfortunately, our blog entry on the same topic last year did not raise any new leads, and we had to remove South African track athlete Edna Maskell, Israeli diver Yoav Ra’anan, and Luxembourg kayaker Léon Roth from our lists. We hope for better luck with our latest featured Olympians!

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