Son Gi-Jeong

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games • Other
Full nameSon•Gi-Jeong
Used nameSon•Gi-Jeong
Name orderOriental
Original name손•기정
Other namesKitei Son, 孫基禎, Sohn Kee-Chung
Born29 August 1912 in Sinuiju, Pyeonganbuk (PRK)
Died15 November 2002 in Daejeon, Daejeon (KOR)
Measurements170 cm / 60 kg
AffiliationsYangjeong High School, Seoul (KOR)
NOC Japan Republic of Korea
Nationality Republic of Korea
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1


Son Gi-Jeong competed at the 1936 Olympics under the Japanese name Kitei Son, because Korea was then part of Japanese Empire. Also known by another Korean transliteration as Sohn Kee-Chong, he was the first Korean to win Olympic gold, finishing first in the 1936 Berlin Olympic marathon. Between 1933 and 1936, Son ran 12 marathons, winning 9 of them, but his last marathon was at Berlin. At the Japan Athletics Championships, on 3 November 1935 in Tokyo, Japan, Son set a world best in the marathon with a time of 2-26:42 and this record remained unbroken until Son’s own protégé Seo Yun-Bok won the 1947 Boston Marathon in 2-25:39.

Son grew up just south of the Chinese border near the mouth of the Yalu (Amnok) River. His home was destroyed in 1926 by a flood forcing him to suspend his further education and to work as a street vendor. He later attended Yangjeong High School in Seoul.

After finishing his sporting career, Son entered law school at Meiji University in 1940. After graduation he briefly worked for the Chosun Savings Bank. After the end of the Japanese occupation, Son worked as an athletics coach in Korea, and later became the chairman of the Korean Sporting Association. He was manager of the Korean team at the 1948 London and 1952 Helsinki Olympics. During the Korean War, however, he was under house arrest when the North Korean Army seized Seoul. At the 1966 Asian Games he was again head of the Korean delegation and later served as a member of the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) in 1971 and of the Organizing Committee of the Seoul Olympics. He was honored at the 1988 Seoul Olympics when he was chosen to bring the Olympic Torch into the stadium at the Opening Ceremony.

In 1983, Son published his autobiography titled My Country, My Marathon. He died from chronic renal failure and pneumonia in a Seoul hospital. He received various sports and national awards including the Moran Medal of Civil Merit and the Blue Dragon, the highest Order of Sports Merit.

Personal Best: Mar – 2-26:42 (1935).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal Nationality As
1936 Summer Olympics Athletics JPN KOR Son Gi-Jeong
Marathon, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold

Other participations

Games Role NOC As
1948 Summer Olympics Flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony KOR Son Gi-Jeong

Special Notes