1948 Olympic shooter Walsh (USA) becomes the oldest Olympian ever
Age has no doubt be re-defined today, as Walter Walsh, a 1948 Olympian in the sport of Shooting, becomes the oldest Olympian to have ever lived at 105 years and 321 days.
Walter Walsh, set to turn 106 on May 4, becomes today the oldest Olympian to have ever lived. He will eclipse another American Olympian, Rudolf Schrader, whom Olympic historians say lived not past 320 days into his 105th birthday.
According to Olympic historian Paul Tchir, the next oldest Olympian is Swiss Hans Erni who also competed in London with Walsh when art was then an Olympic competition. Currently, there are just six Olympians in total still living beyond the century mark.
Walsh was born May 4, 1907 in New Jersey and his life has been one of service, honor, accomplishment and compelling narrative.
He crafted his shooting life as a kid by using a BB gun to shoot clothespins off his Aunt's clothesline then graduating at the age of 12 to shooting a smoothbore .22 caliber rifle.
He'd later go onto to join the Civilian Military Training Corps (CMTC) and the New Jersey National Guard attending shooting matches at the Civilian Marksmanship Program and winning several awards for his marksmanship skills.
In 1948, Walsh got to test his shooting prowess against the Olympic competition as a member of Team USA in London. He placed 12th in the Men's 50m Free Pistol event with a firearm that at the time was fairly uncommon in the United States.
"The competition was, as I remember, the usual exchanges of friendship between members of the various teams," Walsh recalled during his interview with Abrahamson. "On some of the teams, I'm thinking of the Germans particularly, they spoke in a broken fashion, better English than we did.
At the 1952 International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Shooting Championships, he won a gold medal with the U.S. team in the 25m Center-Fire Pistol event and was a silver medalist in the individual event as well
In 1972, Col. Walsh would again participate in Olympic competition, this time as a Team Leader for the USA Shooting Team in Munich.
"Col. Walsh was the Team Captain for the great 1966 USA World Championship Team," remembers ISSF Vice-President and two-time Olympic gold medalist Gary Anderson (USA).
"He was always respected by all members of our teams because of his truly extraordinary record as an FBI agent in the 1930s and his subsequent, distinguished military record. We were proud to have someone as our Team Captain who had been an outstanding shooter himself.”
“That is a very rare accomplishment. I extend my personal congratulations to Col. Walsh for becoming the oldest living Olympian." Mr. Anderson concluded.
Walsh was married for 43 years; his wife passed away in 1980. They had five children together - three daughters and two sons. The family counts 17 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.
Asked to what he credits his longevityby R.R. Keene in Leatherneck Magazine, Walter Walsh ponders for a moment and answers: "To start with, you have to be lucky. Then, if you listen to your parents and follow the path of the straight and narrow, then I think God has mercy on you-permits you to live. That's about it. It has worked very well for me for a long time ... and I've forgotten the SOBs. That makes my life easier."