Dorando Pietri’s marathon, 1908 PHOTO SOURCE:

Pietri name is forever etched in the history of the event, which now is traditionally the last Athletic event on the Olympic calendar and finishes inside the stadium. On the 24th July 1908 over 100, 000 people crammed into the White City stadium to witness the end to the Marathon, while estimates put the number of spectators along the route at over a million.

They weren’t disappointed as they witnessed that day an overwhelming display of personal courage and the will to win. Pietri Dorando was a 22-year-old pastry chef from Correggio in the Provence of Reggio Emilia and it was he who was the first runner to enter the stadium. The crowd noise that greeted him seemed to send him stumbling backwards and he then proceeded to stumble exhausted along the track toward the finish line.

He fell five times on the track and each time he was helped up by the umpires. Their act of kindness was ill-fated however as they effectively lost him the race. One of the umpires who came to his aid later wrote of it.

“As Dorando reached the track he staggered and after a few yards fell. I kept would-be helpers at bay, but Dr Bulger went to his assistance. I warned him that this would entail disqualification, but he replied that although I was in charge of the race, I must obey him. Each time Dorando fell I had to hold his legs while the doctor massaged him to keep his heart beating. Each time he arose we kept our arms in position behind (not touching him) to prevent him falling on his head, and as he reached the tape he fell back on our arms.”Eventually it was the umpires who pushed him over the line just as Irish-American runner Johnny Hayes approached the line. The crowd were ecstatic and although Pietri was disqualified, he had won the hearts of all and was catapulted to overnight international stardom. READ ARTICLE (SOURCE: