Friday, 13 January 2012
Celebrity profile - Hal Haig Prieste - 1920
The iconic Olympic flag, with its 5 interlocking rings representing the 5 continents, made its debut at the games of 1920. The very first Olympic flag was presented to the IOC by the city of Antwerp but at the end of the Games it could not be found and a new one had to be made. The replacement was still known as the "Antwerp Flag" and was used at every Summer Olympics until 1988.
In 1997, at a banquet hosted by the US Olympic Committee, a reporter was interviewing Hal Haig Prieste, then the worlds oldest surviving olympian (he took bronze in platform diving as a member of the 1920 US team). The reporter mentioned the disappearing flag. "I can help you with that," Prieste said, "It's in my suitcase." At the end of the Antwerp Olympics he had climbed a flagpole, stolen the flag and kept it in his suitcase for 77 years. The flag was returned to the IOC by Prieste, by then 103 years old, in a special ceremony held at the 2000 Games in Sydney.