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Henri Decoin

Biographical information

TypeCompeted in Olympic Games, Non-starter
Full nameJoseph Henri•Decoin
Used nameHenri•Decoin
Born18 March 1890 in Paris, Paris (FRA)
Died4 July 1969 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine (FRA)
AffiliationsSCUF, Paris (FRA)
NOC France


Olympian Henri Decoin made appearances at the 1908 and 1912 editions of the Summer Games as a swimmer, but earned a name for himself later in life as a film director and screenwriter in France. Competing out of Sporting Club Universitaire de France (SCUF) he was a national record holder in freestyle swimming (and won the 500m event at the national level in 1911), but did not finish the first round of the men’s 400m freestyle at the 1908 Summer Olympics. It was his experience as an international water polo player, however, that brought him to the 1912 edition, where the French team finished joint fifth (and last) with Hungary. He served as an aviator during World War I and took up a job as a sports journalist after the conflict, writing for L’Auto, L’Intransigeant, and Paris-Soir. In 1926 he published his first book, the prize-winning Quinze Rounds (Fifteen Rounds), which began a long career of writing that included works for both film and theatre. He directed his first film, Les requins du pétrole (The Sharks of Oil), in 1933 and would have 50 directing credits to his name at his death, in addition to over 50 more as a writer. He was married four times, most notably to actress and singer Danielle Darrieux in his second marriage, and was the father of Prix Goncourt-winning writer Didier Decoin.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1908 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) FRA Henri Decoin
400 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) AC h1 r1/3
1912 Summer Olympics Water Polo (Aquatics) FRA Henri Decoin
Water Polo, Men (Olympic) France =5
Swimming (Aquatics) FRA Henri Decoin
100 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) DNS
400 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) DNS