Sunday, March 04, 2012

Surrendering the Things of Youth

With the Olympics upcoming in the U.K. this summer, I thought it would be fun to speak about Oscar Swahn, a Swedish shooter from the early part of the previous century. Swahn competed for his country in three Olympics, 1908, 1912, and 1920, and won assorted medals, both individually and in team competitions. He shot the Running Deer events, in which a silhouette of a deer moved back and forth at various ranges, and competitors used a rifle, for single or double shots. 

The fun part of this was that in the 1920 games, Swahn was seventy-two years old. 


Choosing your event matters. Don't see a lot of seventy-year-olds on the track or diving off the ten-meter platform ...

Swahn was not just the oldest competitor to win a medal, he was the oldest to even compete in the modern Olympics. (In the team competitions, his son Alfred also shot in the same games, and was thus a medal winner, as well, and he'd be considered long in the tooth for a whole lot of events)

There is a caveat as to the age thing: The Art Competitions, which were once part of the Olympics, wherein people brought paintings or sculpture or literature, music, even architecture and were awarded medals. How cool would it have been to have won an Olympic Gold Medal in Literature?

I confess that I never knew such things existed. The Art Competitions ran from 1912-1948; however, since the entrants were clearly professionals in each of the categories, the events were dropped. 

Apropos of nothing, Swahn's middle name was "Gomer." Andy Griffith fans might find that amusing.

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