Max Houben

Max Houben (5 May 1898 – 10 February 1949) was a versatile Belgian athlete who competed from the early 1920s until his death at the 1949 FIBT World Championships. He won a silver medal in the four-man bobsled event at the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz and was the oldest medalist at the Winter Olympics (48 years, 278 days) until Canadian Russ Howard won a gold medal in men's curling at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin (50 years, 7 days).

Max Houben
Hans Eisenhut and Max Houben 1932.jpg
Houben (right) training with Swiss Hans Eisenhut at the 1932 Olympics
Personal information
Birth nameMax Isidore Marie Jules
Full nameMax Isidore Marie Jules Houben
Born5 May 1898
Verviers, Belgium
Died10 February 1949 (aged 50)
Lake Placid, New York, United States
SportBobsled, sprint running
Event(s)100 m
ClubRCA Spa
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)100 m – 10.8 (1920)[1]

Athletics careerEdit

Houben was national champion in the 100 m. He also made it to the quarterfinals of the 200 m event and the semifinals of the 4 × 100 m relay at the 1920 Summer Olympics. Houben later switched to bobsleigh, in which he competed at the 19281948 Winter Olympics, becoming the first Belgian to take part in both Winter and Summer Olympics.[1]

Bobsleigh careerEdit

At the Winter Olympics, Houben earned his best finish prior to World War II of fifth in the four-man event at the 1936 Winter Olympics. After the war, he earned two medals at the 1947 FIBT World Championships in St. Moritz with a silver in the four-man and a bronze in the two-man event. He won his only Olympic medal in the four-man event the following year, also in St. Moritz.[1]

Other sportsEdit

Houben played association football by Royale Union Saint-Gilloise 1923-1925 and 1926-1929. He also competed in the 24 hours of Francorchamps endurance race in auto racing. He played for CS Verviétois in division one 1919-1923 and 1925-1926, division two in 1931-1936, for Racing CB in 1929-1931, Union SG 1923-1925 and 1926-1929, and played 190 games and scored 40 goals.[2]


Houben died during a practice run at the 1949 FIBT World Championships in Lake Placid, New York, when his two-man sled catapulted off of "shady" corner at the bobsleigh track. Houben was killed instantly, while his partner Jacques Mouvet survived with a broken skull and a serious back injury. The Belgian team withdrew as a result.[1]

Following the accident the community of Lake Placid donated a trophy to the FIBT to be presented to the two-man bobsleigh world champions and named it in honor of Houben.[3]


External linksEdit

  • 1932 bobsleigh two-man results
  • 1936 bobsleigh two-man results
  • 1936 bobsleigh four-man results
  • Bobsleigh four-man Olympic medalists for 1924, 1932–56, and since 1964
  • Bobsleigh two-man world championship medalists since 1931
  • Bobsleigh four-man world championship medalists since 1930
  • profile
  • Humo magazine article on Houben – accessed 29 July 2007 (in Dutch)
  • "The Secret of Shady Corner". Time Magazine. 7 March 1949. Retrieved 14 August 2008. – Accessed 29 July 2007.
  • Wallenchinsky, David. (1984). "Bobsled". In The Complete Book the Olympics: 1896–1980. New York: Penguin Books. pp. 558–60.