Carlos Lopes is Portugal’s first-ever Olympic gold medalist whose record in the men’s marathon stood for 24 years.
Lopes was originally a 10,000m runner, and he won the silver in that event at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. He didn’t qualify for the 1980 Moscow Olympics after injuries slowed him down, but he slowly regained his form and qualified for the marathon in the Los Angeles Games. Several days before the Olympics were to open, Lopes was run over by a car, but incredibly he emerged unscathed. His body still in one piece, Lopes proceeded to conquer the marathon in an Olympic record of 2:09:21, a remarkable feat considering he was already 37 years old at the time.
That record would stand until Kenya’s Sammy Wanjiru would slice nearly three minutes off it in Beijing four years ago.
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