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Demetrius Casdagli

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 2
Bronze 0
Total 2
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games, Competed in Intercalated Games
SexMale
Full nameDemetrius Emmanuel•Casdagli
Used nameDemetrius•Casdagli
Nick/petnamesDemis
Original nameΔημήτριος Εμμανουήλ•Κάσδαγλης
Other namesDimitrios Kasdaglis
Born10 October 1872 in Salford, Greater Manchester, England (GBR)
Died6 July 1931 in Bad Nauheim, Hessen (GER)
AffiliationsAlexandria Sporting Club, Al-Iskanderiya (EGY) / Ifitos Kairou, Al-Qahira (EGY)
NOC(s) Greece

Biography

Demetrius Casdagli was the older brother of the more famous Xenophon Casdagli, a well-known tennis player who earned a silver and bronze medal in the men’s and mixed doubles respectively at the 1906 Intercalated Games. The lesser-known Demetrius, however, had taken silver in the men’s singles and doubles at the inaugural Olympics, the latter with Dimitrios Petrokokkinos. Demetrius also participated in the 1906 Intercalated Games, contesting the mixed doubles with Fronietta Paspati, but the duo was defeated in the opening round by eventual silver medalists Sofia Marinou and Georgios Simiriotis. By career he ran the Egyptian arm of his father’s Manchester-based cotton business from 1895 until his death in 1931. His divorce from his wife Jeanne in 1917 became the basis of a landmark case in English law about whether an Englishman could acquire domicile in Egypt after 1914 (it was ruled ultimately that he could).

The issue of Casdagli’s nationality is a source of frustration for those seeking to place early Olympic competitors into simple categories of identity. Until 2008, little was known about this athlete other than his relationship to Xenophon and his residency in Egypt, and he was listed in most sources as “Dionysius Kasdaglis”. That year, relatives of the Olympian confirmed his true identity, as well as his British citizenship. The family, however, was of Russian origin and acquired their Greek names when Demetrius’ grandfather moved to Greece in the early 1800s. Demetrius’ father Emmanuel was born in Rhodes, but established a cotton business in Manchester in 1862, and his children were born in England.

Further research, conducted by Olympic historian Paul Tchir in 2017, turned up the original files for Demetrius’ divorce, wherein his wife argued stringently that her husband was British and nothing else. This was the crux of the larger legal issue, as Demetrius was attempting (for legal rather than personal identity purposes) to claim himself as an Egyptian since 1914, when the British declared a protectorate over Egypt, which had been a legal (if nominal in recent decades) possession of the Ottoman Empire since 1517. In her writ, she noted “At the time of said marriage [1905] my family put forward the suggestion that the Respondent [Demetrius] should become a Greek subject which would have been an easy thing for him to do, but he steadfastly declined and has ever since declined to abandon his British nationality.”

The 1896 entry lists and the 1906 Official Report both list Casdagli as Greek and thus we have chosen to list him as such, which is consistent with the IOC database for 1896. The evidence indicates, however, that at the time of both tournaments he had no legal standing as a Greek national and would have been more properly classified as British.

Results

Games Discipline (Sport) Event Status Team Pos Details
1896 Summer Olympics Tennis Singles, Men Olympic 2 Silver Representing Greece    
  Doubles, Men Olympic Dimitrios Petrokokkinos 2 Silver
1906 Intercalated Games Tennis Doubles, Mixed Intercalated Fronietta Paspati =4 Representing Greece    
  Singles, Men Intercalated DNS

Olympic family relations