Max Houben

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Max Houben
Medal record
Olympic Games
Silver 1948 St. Moritz Four-man
World Championships
Silver 1947 St. Moritz Four-man
Bronze 1947 St. Moritz Two-man

Max Houben (5 May 1898 – 10 February 1949) was a Belgian athlete and bobsledder who competed from the early 1920s to the late 1940s. He won a silver medal in the four-man event at the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz and was the oldest medalist at the Winter Olympics (49 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).

Athletics career[edit]

As an athlete, Houben was national champion in the 100 m for Belgium. He also made it to the quarterfinals of the 200 m event and the semifinals of the 4 x 100 m relay at the 1920 Summer Olympics. Houben later switched to bobsleigh in the 1920s where he would compete in four Winter Olympics (19281948).

Bobsleigh career[edit]

At the Winter Olympics, Houben would earn his best finish prior to World War II of fifth in the four-man event at the 1936 Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. After World War II ended, Houben 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 would earn his only Winter Olympic medal in the four-man event the following year, also in St. Moritz.

Other sports[edit]

Houben was also an active football (soccer) player, winning the Belgian Pro League in 1933 with Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, and also competed in the 24 hours of Francorchamps endurance race in auto racing.


Houben died during a practice run at the 1949 FIBT World Championships in Lake Placid, New York in the United States when his sled catapulted off of "Shady" corner at the bobsleigh track. Houben was killed instantly, and the Belgian team withdrew as a result.

Following the accident the community of Lake Placid donated a trophy to the FIBT to be presented to the 2man bobsleigh world champions and named in honor of Max Houben.[1]