1952, 1956, 1960, 1964
A four-time Olympian for the Soviet Union, Midler was one of the world's greatest foil fencers in the 1950s and 1960s. He first competed in the Olympics at the age of 20 at the 1952 Helsinki Games, but the Soviet foil team was eliminated in the first round of the competition; it was the first time the Soviet Union sent a delegation to the Olympics. Midler had more success in the individual competition, advancing to the second round, where he finished fifth in his pool (the top three advanced to the semifinals).
Midler returned to the Olympics four years later as a more experienced fencer. At the 1956 Melbourne Games, he advanced to the final pool of the individual foil after winning both his first round and semifinal pools. In the finals, he won two of seven matches and finished in seventh place. In the team foil competition, Midler and the Soviet team reached the semifinals before being eliminated; they officially finished in fifth place.
At the 1960 Rome Olympics, Midler captained the Soviet fencing team and won his first Olympic medal as the Soviets captured the gold in the team foil event. In the individual competition, Midler easily made the finals after winning his semifinal pool, but he finished fifth in the final round.
Midler returned to the Olympics for a final time in 1964 at the Tokyo Games, again as the Soviet team captain. In the team event, the Soviets defeated France in the semifinals (9-6), and Poland in the final (9-7) to repeat as Olympic champions. In the individual foil, Midler did not advance past the second round.
Midler, who began fencing at the age of 13, was the world foil champion for four consecutive years (1959-62) and the Soviet foil champion in 1954-1957, and 1963. He also helped lead the Soviets to six consecutive world team foil champions (1959, 1961-63, 1965-66). A Merited Master of Sport of the Soviet Union, he is a member of International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. Sept. 31, 1931
Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.
Jewish Sports Legends: The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, by Joseph Siegman (Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2000)
Great Jews in Sports by Robert Slater (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, 2000)
New York Times, July 21-August 2, 1952
New York Times, November 23-December 8, 1956
New York Times, August 27-September 9, 1960
New York Times, October 11-October 25, 1964