03/10/2023   Abdon Pamich: his 90th birthday



Abdon Pamich took part in five Olympics (from Melbourne 1956 to Munich 1972, passing through Rome 1960, Tokyo 1964 and Mexico 1968).

He was twice on the podium, winning bronze in Rome 1960 (4:27:55.4) behind Don Thompson (4:25:30.0) and John Ljunggren (4:25:470) and winning gold in Tokyo (4:11:12.4) in front of Paul Nihill (4:11:31.2) and Ingvar Pettersson (4:14:17.4).

At his last Olympics, Munich 1972, he was Italy's flag bearer in the parade.

And to make sure he didn't miss anything, he also set a world record at the Olympic stadium in Rome in 1961 for 50,000 meters of track walking.


His story with race walk begins on 23 September 1947 when Abdon goes to the seaside with his brother Giovanni, a few years older than him.

The war had ended a few years ago, but a new dark chapter was beginning for the Italians of Dalmatia and Istria: the exodus wanted by Marshal Tito.

Tito's partisans were arriving with their backpack full of ideology. That ideology which for them was that the word "Italian" was synonymous with "fascist", with the consequent arrests, massacres and foibe.

Abdon was not yet 14 years old and with his brother Giovanni they decided that night, after returning from the sea, with only their t-shirt and shorts on, to take the train from Fiume (now Rijeka) to Trieste.  But they missed the train; they then got off at the first station and set off on foot towards the north east. 


This is how Abdon himself tells about "the beautiful sunny day" in his book "Memories of a race walker".

"It was a beautiful day in September 1947, summer was coming to an end, but the imminent arrival of autumn was not yet felt. Even though it was the first day of school, my brother Giovanni and I spent the whole afternoon at the seaside, at the Kantrida Riviera beach, a town five kilometers from home. The company, as usual, was large and cheerful. The beach and seaside were the only places where we felt free; where time had stopped.
The new arrivals, Tito's partisans, had little confidence with water. It was the last sea bath in our gulf that summer and it would remain so for forty years. That afternoon we made a decision that had already been made for a few days and that would influence our entire future life."


Abdon was a refugee, a teenage refugee; what today is called an unaccompanied minor.

People did not look favorably on the Giuliano-Dalmati refugees at that time; the devastation left in the country by the twenty years of Fascism had branded even very young people, like Abdon, as fascists.

Following the railway line between Fiume (Rijeka) and Divaccia (Divača) the two brothers arrive in Trieste and ask for asylum.

They accompanied him to a refugee camp in Novara while his father was in Milan where he worked.

The welcome consisted of rice and lentils, he slept on mattresses made from corn sacks, privacy was delimited by sheets that divided the families, and the humidity was similar to that of an Indonesian monsoon.


The Pamich family reunites a few years later in Genoa. Abdon studies, Giovanni also studies and will become a doctor, but Giovanni enjoys sports: walking.

Abdon also goes to compete but wants to do a cross-country race. But a certain Giuseppe Malaspina looks at him and asks him his name. Pamich was the answer of Abdon. So, says Malaspina, you must walk too !

From that moment on, the Pamich-Malaspina pairing became indissoluble. In recent days we have witnessed unthinkable ruptures. They don't.


Today Abdon Pamich turns 90, an enviable achievement, like the Olympic one in Tokyo which was also about to elude him after the one in Rome.


Best wishes Abdon even if we mourn with you the loss of the race of the races: the 50km.








A little known video of Abdon Pamich from 1972 in the Terrassa-La Mata race walk in Catalonia which he won four times. In this edition Abdon placed second.


Thanks to Jordi Estruch - Barcelona (ESP)

click here )






Abdon Pamich at 80 years old in Fidal at his birthday party