The English capital city will host the Olympics for an unprecedented third time and the games will be officially inaugurated on Friday. Before that, however, several odd occurrences have taken place such as the suspension of a Greek triple jumper who published a racially insensitive Tweet. Yesterday the Colombia-North Korea women’s soccer match was delayed and nearly forfeited after the Hampden Park video screens displayed the flag of South Korea with the profiles of North Korean players.
One of the most unusual Olympics moments took place the first time London hosted the games in 1908. Dorando Pietri was initially declared the winner of the marathon after he crossed the finish line seconds before Johnny Hayes of the U.S. Yet the exhausted Pietri was disqualified since several officials aided him to the tape.
An unusual finish nearly marred the Olympics marathon when it was run in 1948, again in London. Etienne Gailly of Belgium dominated the race and was the first to enter Wembley Stadium with roughly half a kilometer until the finish. But the difficult course and inclement weather apparently caught up to Gailly and he collapsed with four hundred meters to go. The runner was dazed and disoriented but officials, (possibly remembering the chaotic incident with Pietri four decades before), did not help the Belgian.
Twenty-nine-year-old Delfo Cabrera of Argentina ran past the spent Gailly, which set up an exciting finish. As described by Liza Isaak on ESPNdeportes.com:
Meanwhile, the British runner Tom Richards entered the stadium going all out, passed Gailly and was in second place less than half a lap behind the Argentine. But the dark-haired man with a bushy moustache maintained his distance and continued at a steady pace…until the final meters. As if he were mocking the anxiety of the spectators he ran an impressive sprint that cuased the crowd to explode in excitement. The stadium erupted in a tremendos standig ovation.Cabrera, who became a long-distance runner after countryman Juan Carlos Zabala won the marathon at the 1932 Games, was a hero in his homeland as a result of his great victory. He would go on to win the 1951 Pan American Games marathon and finish in sixth at the 1952 Helsinki Games. Cabrera retired from running in 1956 and died in a car crash in 1981.
The peak of Cabrera’s career was also the greatest moment of the golden age of Argentine marathon runners that included the likes of Reinaldo Gorno and Eusebio Guiñez. His victory sixty-four years ago was the last gold medal for a Latin American runner in either the men’s or women’s marathon:
Video Source – YouTube via enelareatv
Online Sources – El Grafico, CNN, BBC Sport, The Guardian, ESPNdeportes.com