100-Year-Old Olympian Legend Honoured

7 | 2 | 2020

The extraordinary life of Col. John Russell OLY, the oldest US Olympic medallist, was honoured on Saturday.

A living legend amongst Olympians, he received a bronze medal in Helsinki 1952 and was also part of the U.S. Olympic Team for London 1948.

Col. Russell began horse riding at an early age and was awarded a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and the Soldier’s Medal - the highest honour a soldier can receive for an act of valour in a non-combat situation - following World War II.

John’s leadership skills were once again on display as he coached the U.S. modern pentathlon delegations at six Olympic Games with members of his team winning six medals. To mark the occasion John was awarded one of Modern Pentathlon’s most prestigious awards, the UIPM Medal of Honour. John was previously inducted to the U.S. Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 2001 and was rightfully recognised with a lifetime Achievement Award by the International Federation of Equestrian (FEI).

WOA President Joël Bouzou OLY, said: “Colonel Russell was not just a coach of the US Pentathletes, throughout the eighties and nineties he advised Pentathletes during the international camps in San Antonio where I had the privilege of benefiting from his great experience.”

WOA Executive Committee Board Member Willie Banks OLY, said: “Col. Russell’s life has been full of achievements whether this is receiving medals for his military service or securing a bronze in the Olympics. Reaching 100 is another landmark and, as a fellow Olympian, to be able to celebrate this with him in San Antonio, representing the WOA on behalf of President Joël Bouzou OLY, was a special moment. Happy Birthday John.”

Col. Russell’s legacy will continue through the Russell Equestrian Centre in Texas which continues to train the next generation of riders.