Dorando Pietri Collapse at The Finish of 1908 Olympics Marathon

The most famous incident of 1908 London Olympics came at the end of the marathon. The first to cross the finish line was Dorando Pietri of Italy, who was later disqualified.

According to 1908 Olympic report, what happened was, When Dorando entered the stadium, he took the wrong path and when umpires redirected him, he fell down for the first time. He got up with their help, in front of 75,000 trembling spectators.

He fell four more times, and every time was helped up by the umpires. In the end, though totally exhausted, he managed to finish the race in first place. Of his total time of 2h 54min 46s, ten minutes were needed for that last 350 metres.

The American team immediately lodged a complaint against the help Pietri received from the umpires. The complaint was accepted and Pietri was disqualified and second place finisher, American Johnny Hayes was declared the winner.

Officials help Dorando to the finish line

Since he had not been responsible for his disqualification, Queen Alexandra next day awarded him a gold cup. That was a kind gesture form the royal family who had earlier been selfish when they demanded changes to the marathon route that caused an increase in the distance to 42K from 40k. Read, How the Royal family set the Current marathon distance of 42k.

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