Alexander Tarics, who had been the oldest living Olympic champion since 2007, died on Saturday at the age of 102, it has been announced.
Tarics was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1913, and was on the Hungarian water polo team that won the gold medal at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Hungary and Germany played to a tie in the championship game, and Hungary was awarded the gold medal based on greater overall goal differential in previous games.
Tarics is a hero in Hungary to this day and was honored by them at the London Olympics in 2012.
His Olympic gold medal was a story in itself. After the ’36 Olympics, Tarics was a starving college student in Budapest. He tried to pawn his gold medal, but the pawnbroker examined it and declared, “It’s not gold.”
Tarics was also a famous structural engineer in later years whose designs and innovations influenced many familiar buildings around America.
His genius led to many Earthquake solutions, one of which added 530 lead-rubber isolators, or shock absorbers, in the basement of San Francisco City Hall when the building was upgraded and retrofitted in 1998.