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No Olympics seem to be without some controversy. This year, at the London 2012 Games, there has been controversy about a Chinese swimmer, about the Japanese winning gold in the men’s gymnastics Team Final, and about the fact that only 2 members of any country’s gymnastics team can compete in the Individual All-around.

The 1908 London Games were no different. At the Marathon, Dorando Pietri (1885-1942) of Italy finished first. However, his win was successfully contested by the second place finisher John Joseph “Johnny” Hayes (1886-1965) of the United States. Pietri entered the stadium first, but had collapsed several times as well as run the wrong way. Not far from the finish line, Pietri received assistance from two officials. Because Pietri had received assistance before crossing the finish line, Hayes contested the race and was eventually awarded the Gold instead.

Here are images of Pietri’s controversial finish:

1908 Marathon Finish

Colorized image, made from a photograph, of Dorando Pietri finishing the Marathon at the 1908 London Games. From Wikimedia Commons.


Pietri finish 1908 Marathon

Actual photograph of Pietri crossing the finish line. From Wikipedia Commons.

Here is Hayes’ much less dramatic entrance to the stadium at the 1908 Games:

1908 Hayes Marathon finish

Johnny Hayes enters the stadium at the finish of the Marathon at the 1908 London Olympics, From Wikimedia Commons.

Though at the time, Hayes’ finish was much less talked about than Pietri’s, his win was eventually celebrated in the United States and made a minor celebrity out of him. It also popularized distance running in the US.

John Joseph Hayes 1909

Photograph of Johnny Hayes wearing his running uniform, showing the Irish Athletic Association logo. Chicago Daily News negative collection (SDN-007293). From Wikimedia Commons.

Cigarette Card of Johnny Hayes

Cigarette card of Johnny Hayes, from Mecca Cigarettes, 1910. From Wikipedia Commons.

John Joseph Hayes

John Joseph Hayes, Gold Medalist in Marathon at the 1908 London Games. Photo taken between 1910 and 1915. From Wikimedia Commons.

Click on any image to see and download it full-sized.



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