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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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!
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.
– 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!
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 – Member of the Japanese track and field delegation to the 1952 and 1956
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
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!
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 –
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.
– 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.
– 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
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!
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 –
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.
– 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
With the end of 2019 approaching, we wanted to share some 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 – after all, this is the Olympstats blog!
As of today, our full list contains
the names of 2647 participants, non-starters, demonstration athletes, and art
competitors born between 1910 and 1929 that could be living, 595 of whom we
believe to be living for certain. Both of those numbers are up from 2596 and
526 around roughly the same time last year.
We also have 460 Olympians (down
from 558 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
We believe that we will have six living Olympic centenarians by the end of the year, up from three at the end of last year, as we do not know of any Olympic centenarians who died in 2019. We also know of seven survivors from the oldest editions of the Olympics with living participants, the 1936 Berlin Games, and no known survivors of this edition died this year.
We’ll try to send out a small update
like this at the end of every year and, if you have any suggestions of
statistics or information that you would like to see added, please send us a
message and we’ll be happy to include it in the next round! Happy New Year to