Baldini joins legends of Marathon

They followed in the footsteps of Pheidippides and Spiridon Louis on the road from Marathon to Athens last night and by the time they reached the magnificent marble-stepped Panathinaiko Stadium the runners in the 2004 Olympic men's marathon had written another classic chapter in the history of their event.

They followed in the footsteps of Pheidippides and Spiridon Louis on the road from Marathon to Athens last night and by the time they reached the magnificent marble-stepped Panathinaiko Stadium the runners in the 2004 Olympic men's marathon had written another classic chapter in the history of their event.

On the route, so legend has it, that Pheidippides ran with news of a Greek victory at Marathon in 490BC, and on which Louis, a local water carrier, won the original Olympic marathon race in 1896, Stefano Baldini, a 33-year-old Italian, claimed the gold medal.

He did so in 2hr 10min 55sec, breaking the course record held since 1969 by Coventry's Bill Adcocks by a margin of 12 seconds. Meb Keflezighi, an Eritrean immigrant running for the United States, took silver in 2:11:29 and Vanderlei de Lima of Brazil the bronze in 2:12:21.

De Lima dropped to his knees as he crossed the line and kissed the track. His demeanour could not have cut a starker contrast to the runner approaching the line in fourth. Jon Brown had finished fourth in Sydney. The pride of Sheffield Athletics Club had missed out on a medal again, this time by 15 seconds. He was too distraught to speak as he made a hasty exit.

De Lima, 35, was still milking the applause. He deserved every drop of it. Having led the race from the 10th mile to the 22nd, hewas pushed into the crowd by a spectator who ran into the road dressed in a kilt. The assailant was later identified as Cornelius Horan, an Irish priest who ran on to the track at Silverstone during the British Grand Prix last year. De Lima will be presented with the Pierre de Coubertin Medal, awarded in recognition of acts of sportsmanship at the Games.

De Lima's lead had already been whittled down from 44 seconds to 28 and, while he lost a further ten in extricating himself from the crowd, he probably would have still been caught by Baldini and Keflezighi before the finish. Not that De Lima saw it that way. "It cost me the race," he said. "I would have won it. I couldn't believe what happened."

Hendrick Ramaala, the South African, had already made one vain attempt to get away from the pack on the flat early stages before De Lima threw down the gauntlet after 10 miles. Reaching the halfway mark in 1:07.22, the Brazilian held a 14-second lead. In his wake, the Moroccan Jaouad Gharib led the chase. Paul Tergat, the world record holder, and Baldini quickly joined him and were followed by Brown.

By the start of the descent into Athens, the Briton had dropped out of contention. A second fourth place in successive Olympic marathons was an outstanding performance by the 33-year-old. Not that the medal-less Brown took any consolation from that.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine