Pietri had already taken part in the marathon at the 1906 Olympic Intermediate Games in Athens, but could not finish the race.
In 1908 in London he started again. For a long time he was second behind the South African Charles Hefferon , but when he got weaker in the final kilometers, Dorando Pietri was able to take the lead. Pietri arrived at the White City Stadium , which was packed with 75,000 spectators, with a large lead , and only half a round of the stadium separated him from a certain Olympic victory. But he, too, was tired and dazed and almost walked in the wrong direction. When the judges showed him the way to the goal, he collapsed completely exhausted. He was able to get up again, but collapsed again and again over the last 350 meters of the race, a total of five times. Finally, some doctors and judges who were present helped him across the finish line when the second-placed American John Hayes had already reached the stadium ten minutes after Pietri.
The American team then complained about this use of outside help. The complaint was accepted, Dorando Pietri's victory was revoked and John Hayes was declared Olympic champion. Dorando Pietri received a golden trophy from the British Queen as a special honor for his fighting performance, and his story got through the press worldwide. It was through him that both the marathon and the Olympic Games in general gained popularity.
The Sherlock Holmes -author Arthur Conan Doyle wrote for the newspaper Daily Mail , a detailed and emotional account of this event (Daily Mail of 25 July 1908), which did much to publicize the story of Dorando Pietri. Simultaneously with his article, Conan Doyle also published a letter to the editor in which he called for donations for Dorando Pietri. This great dedication from Conan Doyle is likely the reason for the widespread, but untrue, legend that Conan Doyle himself helped Pietri cross the finish line.
The public interest was so great that in November 1908 a duel between Pietri and Hayes was organized in Madison Square Garden. Pietri won by around 70 meters. In a second race in March 1909, Pietri won again.
Pietri set his personal best of 2 hours, 38 minutes and 48 seconds on May 24, 1910 when he won a marathon in Buenos Aires . In his three-year career as a professional runner, he won a large amount of prize money, which he invested in a hotel after the end of his career in 1911. After its failure, he ran a workshop in Sanremo. He died of a heart condition in 1942.
- Dorando Pietri in the Sports-Reference database (English; archived from the original )
- Conan Doyle and the Olympics (PDF) - Article about Conan Doyle's role at the finish by Dorando Pietri, Peter Lovesey, Journal of Olympic History, December / January 2002, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 6–9 (193 kB)
- John Bryant: The Marathon Makers , London 2009, p. 165
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||Italian marathon runner|
|DATE OF BIRTH||October 16, 1885|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Correggio (Emilia-Romagna)|
|DATE OF DEATH||February 7, 1942|
|Place of death||Sanremo|