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Date
04 Feb 1948
Tags
St. Moritz 1948 , Skeleton , Great Britain , IOC News

James Coates - Skeleton

The skeleton competition was notable for the number of older athletes to take part. Silver medallist Jack Heaton was 39 while Britain's John Crammond was 41. Richard Bott, another British slider, was 47 while the United States sent over Mac MacCarthy, who was 51.


Then there was the Swiss athlete Dialma Haselgia, a sprightly 47, and France's William Gayraud-Hirigoyen, 49 years old when he took part. Out of a field of just 15 competitors, only two were under the age of 30.

Great Britain had sent four sliders to St Moritz, with Thomas Clarke the youngest at the age of 36. At the other end of the scale was James Coates, the British aristocrat destined to become the oldest athlete to take part in a Olympic Winter Games.

Coates was 53 years and 297 days old. He was also a member of the British aristocracy, known as the  Sir James Stuart Coates, Third Baronet of Auchendrane.

Coates had returned from a senior role in the military. He had reached the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the British Army, and had been given a memorable assignment during the Second World War – it was his wartime duty to prepare how the British royal family might be evacuated in the event of an invasion.

His performances in St Moritz were notable for their consistency. The skeleton competition was held over six runs, and Coates was seventh, eighth or ninth on each of the first five descents. His sixth and final run saw him set the sixth quickest time to finish in seventh place overall, a hugely creditable effort by the oldest athlete in Winter Games history.

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