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PASSINGS

Ellen Mueller-Preis, 95; won gold, bronze medals in fencing at three Olympics

November 21, 2007

Ellen Mueller-Preis, 95, a fencer who won an Olympic gold medal at the 1932 Los Angeles Games and bronze medals at the 1936 Berlin Games and the 1948 London Games, died of kidney failure Sunday at a Vienna hospital, the Austrian Olympic Committee announced.

Competing as Ellen Preis for Austria in the individual foil finals at the old National Guard Armory near the Coliseum in August 1932, she defeated Heather "Judy" Guinness of Britain. Guinness alerted the officials about two touches by Preis against her that they failed to notice, which turned out to be the margin of victory. "We were more friendly -- more like gentlewomen -- in those days," Mueller-Preis told a Times reporter in 1984 while reminiscing about the 1932 Games.

Born May 6, 1912, in Berlin to an Austrian father and German mother, she moved to the Austrian capital in 1930 and took up fencing.

She won three fencing world titles, in 1947, '49 and '50, and competed in five Olympics, the last in Melbourne in 1956, when she was 44.

After retiring from competition, Mueller-Preis taught fencing, and breathing and movement techniques in Vienna at the University of Music and Pictorial Art, the Reinhardt-Seminar school of drama and the prestigious Burgtheater.

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