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Oct 8 12 3:49 PM

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Found by coincidence:

The Times, 11 August 1965
[article discussing 100m backstroke world record by 12 year South African schoolgirl Karen Muir]
"It is very rare to find a sports international at 12, although Joy Foster did play table tennis for Jamaica at the age of eight in 1958..."
[NFM: she also won the Jamaican championships in women's singles, women's doubles and mixed doubles the same year]


So Joy Foster seems to be the youngest person ever to represent her/his country in international sporting competition (at senior level - not counting youth competitions obviously).

I found only one potential exception : in the 1900 Olympic coxed pairs rowing, the Dutch pair replaced their regular coxswain, who was considered too heavy, with a French schoolboy. They won the gold medal, but the boy's name has not been recorded (it is also not clear whether he was given a medal). Some sources say that he was 7 years old. In any case he was not quite representing his country I suppose.

I thought perhaps gymnastics would have a younger representative, but apparently in female gymnastics the youngest was Pasakevi 'Voula' Kouna of Greece, aged 9, and in mens Dimitris Loundras (also Greece) aged 10. The latter won a bronze medal in the 1896 Olympics.
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#1 [url]

Oct 9 12 7:15 AM

The Greek gymnasts seem to be unsourced, to use Wikipedia's jargon; all references to them appear to be from almanacs and record collecting websites.

A search of Greek websites might uncover more clues, anyone qualified to do it?

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#2 [url]

Oct 9 12 9:57 AM

Re: Youngest international sportsperson

It has been suggested that the boy was Marcel Depaille, and that he might have been as old as 10.

Gymnastics does give us the youngest medallists though, with 10-year old Dimitrios Loundas in 1896 and 11-year old Luigina Giavotti in 1928.

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#3 [url]

Oct 9 12 11:48 AM

I only considered gymnastics to point out that it did not have younger competitors than Joy Foster - when I read about her in The Times I could not think of any other sport in which such a young person could conceivably participate at senior level.

Equally I wasn't restricting to Olympic competition, as Olympics come round only every four years. In general the youngest competitors tend to come from gymnastics, swimming and diving

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#5 [url]

Oct 10 12 6:24 PM

What a combination. Some days ago, the magazine Sportweek published an interesting reportage about the youngest sportspeople, but in this case they listed only the youngest world champions. According to it, the record belongs to the Chinese diver Fu Mingxia, who was only 12 years and 141 days when she won the world title in 1991.

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#6 [url]

Feb 14 17 11:11 PM

In the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi, the North Yemen women's table tennis team included "Asia Ahme Al-Sharabi" (spelling as in newspaper) aged 8.

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