Gehnäll Persson

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameGehnäll•Persson
Used nameGehnäll•Persson
Born21 August 1910 in Steneby, Bengtsfors, Västra Götaland (SWE)
Died16 July 1976 in Köping, Västmanland (SWE)
AffiliationsK4 IF, Umeå (SWE)
NOC Sweden
Medals OG
Gold 2
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 2


Gehnäll Persson has the distinction of being the only athlete in Olympic history, who was disqualified for not being ranked high enough in the Army. When the Fédération Equestrian Internationale (FEI) was formed in 1921, it was decided that only commissioned army officers could compete at the Olympic Games, as it was considered that only they would compete in the appropriate amateur and sporting manner. That rule still stood during the 1948 Olympics, where Sweden, who had dominated the sport since the 1912 Olympics, appeared to win the dressage team event by a wide margin. But just after the Olympics, the French secretary-general of FEI Georges Hector, discovered that Persson had been promoted from the rank of fanjunkare (roughly a sergeant-major in the US Army) to lieutenant and was demoted back to fanjunkare after the Olympics, which led the FEI to disqualify him in April 1949 and thus the team gold medals were awarded to France. In November 1949, FEI loosened the restrictions, which allowed non-commissioned officers, civilians and women to compete at future Olympics.

Persson was back at the 1952 and 1956 Olympics, winning the team dressage gold both times. His best individual finish was at the 1956 Olympics, when he finished fourth. Persson was the best Swedish dressage rider of the 1950s, winning national titles in 1951-55, 1959 and 1961. By profession Persson was a remount rider, a man whose job was to prepare young horses for the military, serving with the K4 Norrland Dragoon Regiment. He retired from the Army in 1968.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1948 Summer Olympics Equestrian Dressage (Equestrian) SWE Gehnäll Persson
Individual, Men (Olympic) Knaust DQ
Team, Men (Olympic) Knaust / Sweden DQ
1952 Summer Olympics Equestrian Dressage (Equestrian) SWE Gehnäll Persson
Individual, Open (Olympic) Knaust 9
Team, Open (Olympic) Knaust / Sweden 1 Gold
1956 Equestrian Olympics Equestrian Dressage (Equestrian) SWE Gehnäll Persson
Individual, Open (Olympic) Knaust 4
Team, Open (Olympic) Knaust / Sweden 1 Gold