Max Houben

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 1
Bronze 0
Total 1
RolesCompeted in Olympic Games • Other
Full nameMax•Houben
Used nameMax•Houben
Born5 May 1898 in Verviers (BEL)
Died10 February 1949 in Lake Placid, New York (USA)
Measurements168 cm
AffiliationsRCA Spa, Spa (BEL)
NOC Belgium


Max Houben was a versatile athlete. In 1920, he won the Belgian title in the 100 m dash, and competed in track & field at the Olympics later that year. Houben also played football in the top Belgian league, playing for RCS Verviétois and later Union St. Gilloise, winning the title in 1933. Also competing in tennis and auto racing, Houben was probably most successful as a bobsleigh pilot. Thanks to his friend Baron de Lunden, who provide him with a sled, Houben participated as a slider in four Olympics, becoming the first Belgian to compete in both Winter and Summer Olympics. While a decent-performer in the pre-war years, Houben reached his top after World War II, when he was already in his late 40ies. At the 1947 World Championships, he medalled in both events, taking a bronze in the 2-man and a silver in the 4-man bob. At the 1948 Olympics, Houben took a silver medal in the 4-man event. At 49, Houben is still one of the oldest medallists ever at the Winter Olympics. One year later, Houben was among the favourites for the world title in Lake Placid. During a practice run, Houben and brakesman Mouvet slid off the track and smashed into an upright. Mouvet broke his skull and sustained a serious back injury, but survived. Max Houben was killed instantly. His memorial service was attended by all bobsledders present at the World Championships.

Personal Bests: 100 – 10.8 (1920); 200 – unknown.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1920 Summer Olympics Athletics BEL Max Houben
200 metres, Men (Olympic) 5 h3 r2/4
4 × 100 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) Belgium 4 h2 r1/2
1928 Winter Olympics Bobsleigh (Bobsleigh) BEL Max Houben
Four/Five, Men (Olympic) Belgium 1 6
1932 Winter Olympics Bobsleigh (Bobsleigh) BEL Max Houben
Two, Men (Olympic) Louis Van Hege 9
Four, Men (Olympic) Belgium DNS
1936 Winter Olympics Bobsleigh (Bobsleigh) BEL Max Houben
Two, Men (Olympic) Martial Van Schelle 9
Four, Men (Olympic) Belgium 2 5
1948 Winter Olympics Bobsleigh (Bobsleigh) BEL Max Houben
Two, Men (Olympic) Jacques Mouvet 4
Four, Men (Olympic) Belgium 2 Silver

Other participations

Games Role NOC As
1948 Winter Olympics Flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony BEL Max Houben

Special Notes