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1956 Olympic Games Melbourne, Australia - Men's Marathon



Host City: Melbourne, Australia Format: 42,195 metres (26 miles, 385 yards) out-and-back.
Date Started: December 1, 1956
Date Finished: December 1, 1956
(Competitors: 46; Countries: 23)
Venue(s): Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Victoria
Overview by IAAF  1956_melbournestadium.jpg
With temperatures soaring to 30°C this was not going to be a quick race, and the early 5Km splits pace of 16:25, 33:30 and 50:36 saw a dozen athletes bunched within a few seconds. Shortly before halfway Mimoun made a sharp attack on a hill, and broke away, leading from European Champion Karvonen by 50 seconds at 25Km (1:24:35). At 30Km (1:41:47) the lead was 1:12, with Karvonen joined by Mihalić and Kawashima, and Zátopek fifth, 51 seconds behind. Mimoun extended his lead to 1:32 by the finish, with Mihalić getting clear of Karvonen after 35Km. Mimoun had won five silvers behind Zátopek in Olympic and European title races, and now finally won gold ahead of his old friend, who, having lost three months of training in ’56, still managed sixth place. Mimoun competed in one more Olympics (34th in the 1960 marathon), but was still capable of 2:34:37 in 1972 at the age of 51.
Summary by
For the 1956 Olympic marathon, Emil Zátopek was back to defend his title. This time he was running only the marathon, but he was not as ready as in 1952, having recently had hernia surgery. The favorite’s mantle probably fell to the Algerian-born Frenchman, Alain Mimoun. Mimoun had won the International Cross-Country four times, and had won three Olympic silver medals on the track, always trailing Zátopek. He had also finished second behind Zátopek twice at the 1950 European Championships. Like Zátopek in 1952, he was making his marathon début.
Mimoun dominated the race. He was always in the lead group and by 25 km. he had opened almost a minute on the field. He ran steadily from there, winning the race by 1:32 over Yugoslavia’s Franco Mihalić. Zátopek, not near his top form, finished sixth. In his wonderful book, All That Glitters is Not Gold, William Oscar Johnson relates the story as told to him by Mimoun. When he finished he waited for Zátopek to arrive. When he did, he did not at first acknowledge Mimoun, being in some distress. Mimoun then told him, “Emil, it was I who won.” Zátopek then turned around and saluted Mimoun, his close friend. Telling the story years later, Mimoun noted, “Oh, for me that was better than the medal.” Mimoun ran two more career marathons, failing to finish the 1958 European Championships, and finishing 34th at the 1960 Olympics.


Frenchman Alain Mimoun, silver medalist in both the 5,000 and 10,000 in Helsinki, had come to Melbourne with the intention of focusing on the long track race. The marathon was an option, but not a serious one. But after finishing a disappointing twelfth in the 10,000, Mimoun decided to try to salvage his trip down under with the Marathon. This despite his lack of marathon experience.

There was no clear favorite in this event. Some experts fancied Veikko Karvonen of Finland. This very experienced marathoner had won the 1954 European Marathon as well as the Enschede, Boston, Athens and Fukuoka marathons. Perhaps the most intriguing entry was Zatopek. There was no doubt that he was past his best, but the Czech had an amazing competitive record; even his recent hernia operation did not rule him out as a potential winner.

The start, with 46 runners, has gone down in history as the only false start in an Olympic marathon. In the summer heat, the field soon spread out so that at 10K (33:30) there were ten in the lead group. Zatopek was not among them, some 17 seconds behind.  Although the speed slowed in the third 5K to 17:07 (50:37), the lead group had shrunk to seven: Mimoun, Filin  and Ivanov of the USSR, Kelley (USA) , Kotila of Finland, Briton Ken Norris, and Nyberg of Sweden. Zatopek was now only five seconds behind the leaders. In the next uphill 5K covered in 17:21 (68:03), Norris and Kotila dropped back, while Karvonen moved up with the lead group.

Mimoun out on his own.

The long hill that ended near the turnaround point was to be the deciding factor. Near the top of this 3.5K climb, Mimoun took off.  He ran the next 5K in 16:32. By 25K (84:35) he had a 50-second advantage over Karvonen and Yugoslav Mihalic, who had moved up fast. Kawashina (PB 2:27:45) had moved up from 14th to 4th on the downhill. He was followed by Nyberg and Zatopek.

Mimoun, his head covered with a handkerchief embroidered with his wife’s initials, kept the pace going and reached 30K in 1:41:47 (17:12). His lead on Mihalic and Karvonen, who had been joined by Kawashima, was now 1:12. Mimoun was fine until 32K when he suffered a bad patch. It took him 3K to get back his rhythm. Nevertheless, his lead had still increased by four seconds at 35K (1:59:34). The 36-year-old Mihalic, now on his own in second, clocked 2:00:50, with Karvonen at 2:00:58 and Kawashima at 2:01:36. At 40K Mihhalic, who had only one marathon victory to his name, had pulled back two seconds on Mimoun (2:18:44) and had left Karvonen 53 seconds behind. After moving up from 18th to 8th between 25 and 30K, Lee of Korea continued to overtake runners and passed Zatopek into 5th place.

In the last 2K Mimoun increased his lead to 1:32. Behind him, Mihalic had a comfortable 1:15 lead on Karvonen. The fast-finishing Lee passed Kawashima for fourth. When Zatopek entered in sixth, the crowd gave him a huge ovation. Mimoun escaped the photographers to welcome him. It was the first time he had ever beaten the Czech.

1. Alain Mimoun FRA 2:25:00;  2. Franjo Mihalic YUG 2:26:32  3. Veikko Karvonen FIN 2:27:47. Chang-Hoon Lee KOR 2:28:45   5. Yoshiaki Kawashima JPN 2:29:18  6. Emil Zatopek TCH 2:29:34.
Marathon Men Final 26 November
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 2-25.00 Alain Mimoun France FRA 35
2 2-26.32 Franjo Mihalić Yugoslavia YUG 36
3 2-27.47 Veikko Karvonen Finland FIN 30
4 2-28.45 Lee Chang-Hun South Korea KOR 21
5 2-29.19 Yoshiaki Kawashima Japan JPN 22
6 2-29.34 Emil Zátopek Czechoslovakia TCH 34
7 2-30.37 Ivan Filin Soviet Union URS 30
8 2-31.12 Evert Nyberg Sweden SWE 31
9 2-33.33 Thomas Nilsson Sweden SWE 30
10 2-36.10 Eino Oksanen Finland FIN 25
11 2-36.21 Arnold Vaide Sweden SWE 30
12 2-36.53 Choi Chung-Sik South Korea KOR 25
13 2-38.59 Paavo Kotila Finland FIN 29
14 2-39.48 Mercer Davies South Africa RSA 31
15 2-39.55 Harry Hicks Great Britain GBR 31
16 2-40.53 Hideo Hamamura Japan JPN 24
17 2-41.34 Albert Richards New Zealand NZL 32
18 2-41.44 John Russell Australia AUS 24
19 2-42.10 Lothar Beckert Germany GER 25
20 2-42.20 Nick Costes United States USA 30
21 2-43.40 Johnny Kelley United States USA 25
22 2-44.33 Muhammad Havildar Aslam Pakistan PAK 35
23 2-46.20 Dolfi Gruber Austria AUT 36
24 2-47.18 Aurèle Vandendriessche Belgium BEL 24
25 2-48.12 Keith Ollerenshaw Australia AUS 28
26 2-49.32 Myitung Naw Myanmar MYA 22
27 2-52.05 Pavel Kantorek Czechoslovakia TCH 26
28 2-52.14 Kurt Hartung Germany GER 31
29 2-53.37 Bashay Feleke Ethiopia ETH
30 2-57.47 Abdul Rashid Pakistan PAK 28
31 2-58.42 Kanuti Sum Kenya KEN
32 2-58.49 Gebre Birkay Ethiopia ETH
33 3-04.17 Kurao Hiroshima Japan JPN 27
AC DNF Ali Baghbanbashi Iran IRI 32
AC DNF Jan Barnard South Africa RSA 27
AC DNF Ron Clark Great Britain GBR 26
AC DNF Eduardo Fontecilla Chile CHI 27
AC DNF Boris Grishayev Soviet Union URS 26
AC DNF Albert Ivanov Soviet Union URS 25
AC DNF Giuseppe Lavelli Italy ITA 28
AC DNF Im Hwa-Dong South Korea KOR
AC DNF Fred Norris Great Britain GBR 35
AC DNF Les Perry Australia AUS 33
AC DNF Klaus Porbadnik Germany GER 26
AC DNF Juan Silva Chile CHI 26
AC DNF Dean Thackwray United States USA 23
More Details by Marathoninfo
 1956: MELBOURNE: Mimoun a legend
Saturday, December 1 at 15h13 Alain Mimoun (France) 35 years 46 from 23 countries 13 (28.26%)
Melbourne is a magical name for all the French marathon, one of the city that saw the victory of Alain Mimoun, an exceptional man as there is little, a man who became a legend before death a man who knows yet set an example by encouraging young people to play sports.

A lain Mimoun is Telagh in 1921. He began the foot race in Bourg-enBresse during his military service; he is 19 years old. But the war will delay the course of his sporting career ... Folded in North Africa with his regiment of Algerian infantry, it takes a license to the Gallia Sports Algiers and starts to accumulate very many victories in major events in the region.
He has 25 years when he returned to civilian life; an exceptional and incomparable career starts despite a left leg chopped three shrapnel during the battle of Cassino, Italy.
Licensee in France, under the colors of Racing Club de France, in 1947 he became champion of France of 5,000 m. He trains every day on 6 7 km, from 6 am before taking his work that ends very late. On August 16 of that year, during the match France-Czechoslovakia, he met for the first time who was to become his main rival but nevertheless friend Emile Zatopek.
During this meeting, Mimoun almost be doubled by the great Czechoslovak champion in the 5,000 m.
In 1948, the London Olympics, he finished second behind the same Zatopek and gets the same place on 10,000 m, still behind the Czech champion.

He won the Cross of Nations in 1949, 1952, 1954 and 1956, beating another great French champion Raphaël Pujazon. Becoming a physical education instructor in a Parisian high school, he enjoys better conditions for practice and will be second in the European Championship in 1950 on 5.000 m always behind Zatopek but with the satisfaction of beating a chest, champion distance, beige Gaston Reiff.
The Olympic Games in Helsinki in 1952 on 5,000 and 10,000 m the results are identical second behind the eternal Emile Zatopek, his great rival and friend, but the gap between them decreases ... During that memorable 5000 m , illustrated by the dramatic drop of Gaston Reiff, Mimoun had the opportunity to win at the exit of the last corner had he seized his chance ...

On the Helsinki 5000m Mimoun said: "I was not sorry to have lost the race because if I had won, I would not have done the Melbourne marathon, and I would not have been Olympic champion".

Mimoun had hidden to everyone he wanted to do this marathon, and when he announced the news a lot of people laugh, too old (35 years old at the time), it's over, it never Marathon and it starts with an Olympic marathon, as it highlights its unconsciousness or her claim. Only his friend and rival Emil Zatopek takes it seriously, saying: "I am not afraid of Mihalic, but Russian worried about me ... The Russian and you !!" No sentence could not be more pleased with Mimoun, who was always subject to the law of the Czech, ending each time in the shadow of this great athlete. Also every mark of esteem of Zatopek's Mimoun great pride because their rivalry did not separate the contrary them, they are great friends and believe .. Yet Mimoun was well prepared and had shown its form breaking the record of the time in Algiers, realizing 19km078m.

Mimoun saw him several signs favorable to its success before the start of the race:

- First he learns the birth of his daughter by telegram the day before the race, which will disrupt much of the night, yet he said getting up fresh as a roach. The telegram said mother and child are doing well, the "s" child had asked him many questions he will answer that morning.

- Weather in Melbourne was a dismal fortnight preceding the race, but the big day as if by magic heat (very hot) installs on Melbourne, and Mimoun is very happy, preferring largely that time.

- The French who won the Olympic marathon did in 1900 and 1928, every 28 years, so in 1956 had confirmed the adage "never two without three".

- Finally Mimoun wore that day the number 13, a number that was to bring him happiness.

running the marathon:

And now the adventure is started after one false start, which took place on an Olympic marathon ... the tenth kilometer Zatopek attacked, followed immediately and the two Russians Filine Ivanov, the American Kelley and Mimoun which does had one thing in mind: to be part of the first group. It was a brief alert. Seeing that he could not outrun the guards, the Czech was allowed to join, and again the peloton reformed. Not for a long time. Filine attack, then Ivanov, then the ENGLISH Clark. None managed to escape; but these skirmishes are a registered victim Zatopek, who knows a brief failure and off the leading group.

23 km ...

The English Clark leads. Behind him Mimoun, who feels his legs and held that since the beginning countered every attack. With his eye on the shoulders of Clark, careful to husband his strength, he ran dry and stride specifies that gave him so many victories. He hears his back the breath Ivanov, of Filine, Karvonen, of Mihalic, Kelley. The pace is very fast. 23 km in five quarters of an hour! The seven men who can all claim victory are found ...

25 km ...

A coast arises. "Above all, never attack hill" told Mimoun old marathoners. But Mimoun, who carefully studied the route, knows this coast, it does not frighten. the young American John Kelley dryly starts after giving him a pat on the back to encourage her to follow him. he liked Kelley, in training he was still hanging from his heels and silent friendship had developed between them. Why hesitate? it had to accompany, especially as the others had not reacted. A little further, the American relaxed his effort. Mimoun took over, he had found his launching pad.

30 km ...

5 km from Mimoun alone. On both sides of the road spectators crowd and passing raises an unbroken trail of cheers. Mimoun get without. Cries the stun. These overzealous admirers, leaving him just pass, giving him feel suffocated. He tears the handkerchief soaked with sweat he had set on the head for protection from the sun; He grits his teeth and suddenly feels unwell too well known invade. Failure ... The legs stiffen and ache, the throat tightens, lungs who seem unable to breathe, the blood thumping blows to the skull and that terrible desire, almost irresistible to stop, to drop on the side of the road and to end the suffering ... Between the sun that had raised the temperature to 36 °, he saw mirages. In his hallucination, he thought go under a bridge which was a kilometer from the stadium, "but this is not possible, I will be Olympic champion, they will not catch me there, it is not possible !! " After the bridge, there was a bump that seemed interminable, the tone changed. "Bastard, you have not arrived You will not let go so close you realize !! So close !! ". Actually bridge, one under which he had just passed was 12km from the finish !!

Mimoun but will not stop. He will not let escape the victory he feels within his reach, he will not abandon the gold medal three times Zatopek delighted him ...

38 km ...

The failure has passed. The energy of Mimoun was due to fatigue and the news that shouts everywhere whip his courage. his opponents are far away. Mihalic and Karvonen have more than one minute late and Zatopek is two and a half minutes!

Mimoun felt his strength revived miraculously. His stride is as easy as 20 kilometers earlier. He looks at the road carefully, carefully avoids the holes, aside from a brief gesture official who approach too closely ... 41 km, 42 km ... The stadium! Confident, Mimoun through the door, receives not a muscle of his face moving burst of cheers that greet his appearance and, still accelerating, rushes to the final round track. The entire stadium, standing, saw the blue shirt cut the thread.

Soon crossed the line in 2:25 ', we wanted to throw a blanket over her thin shoulders, they brought him hot drinks, nervously refused everything. What mattered to him was to know where her friend Zatopek. Mihalic was second, third Karvonen (Finland will be the first team, the second Swedish, which is ironic given the heat that prevailed on Melbourne). Zatopek finally arrives in sixth position and collapsed on the lawn. He will remain kneeling and interminable seconds, his head against the ground, and when he got up it was to head Franjo Mihalic, he believed to be the winner. Mimoun rushed:

- You do not congratulated me, Emil?

- What?

- I'm Olympic champion. It's me who won the marathon.

Zatopek then turned instantly. He stood at attention to you, took off his cap and said: "Alain, I'm happy for you." They had just been together in the same race for the last time, and when Zatopek died November 21, the French Athletics Federation had the delicacy to delegate his old rival at his funeral in Prague. "I just lost a brother," he said full of sadness.

Mimoun when his remake the Olympic marathon in 1960, he crosses the finish line mixed with a group of riders. No one will care for him. Mimoun does not surprise, at forty, he was involved in the marathon without any illusions, simply because he thought should defend his title. Beautiful mentality as that of Mr Mimoun !!

It will finalize his international career in 1966, at age 45, with his active 33 league titles in France, 84 caps for France and 20 national records broken. Today at age 83 he continues to run, alternating jogging of 10-15km and race walking and participating in many events where he preached the good word. He claims his happiness to be French, speaks of a kind of predestination to be a champion and is happy to have lived her life fully. In 2002 he inaugurated the 50th stage bearing his name ...

J e offers now read an interesting interview appeared in the high-Marne newspaper in 2002 interview where he talks about his Melbourne marathon and also where he speaks of himself and his philosophy.




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