Magnificent Olympic medal and torch collection from Armenian-American diver Hal Haig ‘Harry’ Prieste, which includes the bronze medal he won in the men's 10-meter platform event at the Antwerp 1920 Summer Games, his bronze participation medal from the VII Olympiad, and the official Olympic torch that he carried at the age of 100 in the torch relay for the Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics.
The Antwerp 1920 bronze winner's medal measures 60 mm, weighs 81 gm, and was designed by Josue Dupon. The front shows a victorious athlete holding a laurel wreath and palm branch, with a statue of Renommee in the background, inscribed "VII Olympiade"; the reverse depicts the Brabo fountain above the Antwerp shield, with the Cathedral of Our Lady and city looming in the background, inscribed above, "Anvers MCMXX."
The Antwerp 1920 bronze participation medal measures 60 mm, weighs 75 gm, and was designed by Pierre Theunis. The front depicts a dramatic image of a flying Victory crowning a charioteer on biga; the reverse features Nike standing before a burning censer and crowning a trio of victorious athletes, with Antwerp in the background and raised text, "VIIme Olympiade-Anvers, MCMXX."
The official 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics torch is constructed of gold-plated brass, aluminum, and Georgian pecan hardwood, and measures 31.75″ in length and 2.5″ at its widest point. Designed by Peter Mastrogiannis, the wooden handle represents the connection of the flame between heaven and earth, and the torch's twenty-two reeds, representing every host city of the Olympic Games since 1896, are gathered by bands at the top and bottom, with the top displaying the Atlanta Games logo and the quilt of leaves design, and the bottom band listing all Olympic cities and their dates since 1896. The torch relay was run from April 27 to July 19, 1996, and covered 26,875 km across the United States by over 12,000 torchbearers. Its journey included a trek on the Pony Express, a ride on the Union Pacific Railroad, and the first instance in which an Olympic relay torch made its way into space when it was carried aboard Space Shuttle Columbia as part of STS-78. Accompanied by an image of Prieste holding the offered torch during the relay.
Medal conditions: light wear and marks. Torch condition: the bands bear some tarnishing, light bending to the upper reeds, the lower reed section slightly loose, and wear to the base, the underside of which bears a “126” label.
In addition to his bronze medal-winning dive, Prieste is connected with the Antwerp Olympics for another, more scandalous reason: as a prank, he stole the original five-interlocking-ring Olympic flag. The 1920 Summer Olympics marked the debut of the now-iconic flag, which was created to display the unity of the world's five continents. At the end of the Antwerp Olympics, spurred on by his team-mate, legendary Hawaiian swimmer and surfer Duke Kahanamoku, Prieste climbed a flagpole and stored it away in a suitcase for 77 years before he returned it, at the age of 103, in a special ceremony held at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. For his honesty, Prieste was given a medal by IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, and the flag is now on display at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.
After Antwerp Prieste returned to California and starred as a Keystone Cops character in silent movies, ultimately appearing in 25 films. At the time of his death at 104, Prieste was the world's oldest former Olympic medalist, and the first known Olympian whose lifespan covered three centuries (1896-2001).