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Athletics at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games:

Men's Marathon

Athletics at the 1956 Summer Games: Previous Summer Games ▪ Next Summer Games


Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Victoria
Date Started: December 1, 1956
Date Finished: December 1, 1956
Format: 42,195 metres (26 miles, 385 yards) out-and-back.

Gold: FRA Alain Mimoun
Silver: YUG Franjo Mihalić
Bronze: FIN Veikko Karvonen


For the 1956 Olympic marathon, [Emil Zátopek] was back to defend his title. This time he was running only the marathon, but he was not as ready as in 1952, having recently had hernia surgery. The favorite’s mantle probably fell to the Algerian-born Frenchman, [Alain Mimoun]. Mimoun had won the International Cross-Country four times, and had won three Olympic silver medals on the track, always trailing Zátopek. He had also finished second behind Zátopek twice at the 1950 European Championships. Like Zátopek in 1952, he was making his marathon début.

Mimoun dominated the race. He was always in the lead group and by 25 km. he had opened almost a minute on the field. He ran steadily from there, winning the race by 1:32 over Yugoslavia’s [Franco Mihalić]. Zátopek, not near his top form, finished sixth. In his wonderful book, All That Glitters is Not Gold, William Oscar Johnson relates the story as told to him by Mimoun. When he finished he waited for Zátopek to arrive. When he did, he did not at first acknowledge Mimoun, being in some distress. Mimoun then told him, “Emil, it was I who won.” Zátopek then turned around and saluted Mimoun, his close friend. Telling the story years later, Mimoun noted, “Oh, for me that was better than the medal.” Mimoun ran two more career marathons, failing to finish the 1958 European Championships, and finishing 34th at the 1960 Olympics.

View a Phase of this EventFinal Standings

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal T
1 Alain Mimoun 35 France FRA Gold 2-25:00
2 Franjo Mihalić 36 Yugoslavia YUG Silver 2-26:32
3 Veikko Karvonen 30 Finland FIN Bronze 2-27:47
4 Lee Chang-Hun 21 South Korea KOR 2-28:45
5 Yoshiaki Kawashima 22 Japan JPN 2-29:19
6 Emil Zátopek 34 Czechoslovakia TCH 2-29:34
7 Ivan Filin 30 Soviet Union URS 2-30:37
8 Evert Nyberg 31 Sweden SWE 2-31:12
9 Thomas Nilsson 30 Sweden SWE 2-33:33
10 Eino Oksanen 25 Finland FIN 2-36:10
11 Arnold Vaide 30 Sweden SWE 2-36:21
12 Choi Chung-Sik 25 South Korea KOR 2-36:53
13 Paavo Kotila 29 Finland FIN 2-38:59
14 Mercer Davies 31 South Africa RSA 2-39:48
15 Harry Hicks 31 Great Britain GBR 2-39:55
16 Hideo Hamamura 24 Japan JPN 2-40:53
17 Albert Richards 32 New Zealand NZL 2-41:34
18 John Russell 24 Australia AUS 2-41:44
19 Lothar Beckert 25 Germany GER 2-42:10
20 Nick Costes 30 United States USA 2-42:20
21 Johnny Kelley 25 United States USA 2-43:40
22 Muhammad Havildar Aslam 35 Pakistan PAK 2-44:33
23 Dolfi Gruber 36 Austria AUT 2-46:20
24 Aurèle Vandendriessche 24 Belgium BEL 2-47:18
25 Keith Ollerenshaw 28 Australia AUS 2-48:12
26 Myitung Naw 22 Myanmar MYA 2-49:32
27 Pavel Kantorek 26 Czechoslovakia TCH 2-52:05
28 Kurt Hartung 31 Germany GER 2-52:14
29 Bashay Feleke Ethiopia ETH 2-53:37
30 Abdul Rashid 28 Pakistan PAK 2-57:47
31 Kanuti Sum Kenya KEN 2-58:42
32 Gebre Birkay Ethiopia ETH 2-58:49
33 Kurao Hiroshima 27 Japan JPN 3-04:17
AC Ali Baghbanbashi 32 Iran IRI DNF
AC Jan Barnard 27 South Africa RSA DNF
AC Ron Clark 26 Great Britain GBR DNF
AC Eduardo Fontecilla 27 Chile CHI DNF
AC Boris Grishayev 26 Soviet Union URS DNF
AC Albert Ivanov 25 Soviet Union URS DNF
AC Giuseppe Lavelli 28 Italy ITA DNF
AC Im Hwa-Dong South Korea KOR DNF
AC Fred Norris 35 Great Britain GBR DNF
AC Les Perry 33 Australia AUS DNF
AC Klaus Porbadnik 26 Germany GER DNF
AC Juan Silva 26 Chile CHI DNF
AC Dean Thackwray 23 United States USA DNF