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French Olympian who survived World War II concentration camps to carry Olympic flame

Paris 2024 Olympics

This picture taken on October 21, 2019 shows a Paralympic Games logo during a logo presentation ceremony for Paris 2024 Olympic Games at the Grand Rex cinema in Paris. (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP) (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Frenchman Roger Lebranchu, who survived two World War II concentration camps and then rowed at the 1948 Olympics, is scheduled to be an Olympic torch relay torchbearer for the Paris Games.

Lebranchu, who turns 102 years old four days before the Opening Ceremony, was selected as a torchbearer by the city of Mont-Saint-Michel, according to Paris 2024.

French media reported last week that Lebranchu will carry the Olympic flame on May 31, a day the torch relay goes near beaches used for the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. Mont-Saint-Michel is about 75 miles southwest of the Normandy beaches.

Lebranchu is believed to be the oldest living French male Olympian and second-oldest living male Olympian across all nations, according to Paul Tchir of a group of Olympic historians called the OlyMADMen.

The oldest living Olympian is believed to be Frenchwoman Yvonne Chabot-Curtet, who turns 104 on May 28. She long jumped at the Olympics in 1948 and 1952.

Lebranchu is also believed to be one of the last two living Olympians who survived a World War II concentration camp. The other is Israeli Shaul Ladany, who also escaped the terrorist attack at the 1972 Munich Games, where he competed in the 50km race walk.

From 1943 to 1945, Lebranchu spent time in the Buchenwald and Auschwitz concentration camps, according to the OlyMADMen.

“While there, he was forced to work to the point of exhaustion, but managed to flee when the camp was evacuated near the end of the conflict,” the OlyMADMen wrote. “Physically weak upon his return, he eventually began rowing with the Société Nautique de la Basse Seine in Courbevoie and was selected to represent France in the coxed eights event at the 1948 London Olympics.”

Lebranchu detailed his life in a tearful interview with German newspaper Die Welt in 2022. At the end of the interview, Lebranchu was quoted saying that he would love to be part of the Olympic torch relay.