Micheline Ostermeyer

Olympic Person of the Month October 2023

Not everyone can claim to excel at two things at once. But Micheline Ostermeyer can, and she seems to have truly embraced the Olympic value of excellence. 

Born in 1922 in Rang-du-Fliers, she was musically influenced from an early age by her mother. When she was just 4 years old, her mother insisted that she learn to play the piano. It is not surprising that she was artistically influenced, as she is the great-granddaughter of the French writer Victor Hugo and the niece of the composer Lucien Laroche.

At the age of 14, she entered the Paris Conservatoire to study music, but interrupted her studies at the outbreak of the Second World War and returned to Tunisia. There, athletics and basketball captured her heart, while she continued her musical activities, auditioning weekly for the Tunisian radio. After the war she moved back to France, still concentrating on both sport and music, completing her education at the Conservatoire de Paris and winning several French national titles in athletics.

After finishing second in the 1946 European Athletics Championships and winning the Prix Premier at the Conservatoire, she reached the pinnacle of her athletic career at the 1948 Summer Games in London. There she won 3 medals – gold in the discus, despite having had nothing to do with it for weeks, and the shot put, as well as a bronze in the high jump. As the first woman from France to win medals, she gave a Beethoven concert at her team’s headquarters and at the Royal Albert Hall at the end of the day.

For a long time, her sporting achievements had a negative effect on her musical level, so she ended her sporting career in 1950 and devoted herself entirely to music for 15 years, until she became a music teacher. She retired in 1980 and gave occasional concerts in Switzerland and France. After her death in 2001 in Bois-Guillaume, she was honoured and included in the Olympians for Life project in 2016.