Alain Mimoun

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameAlain (Ali-)•Mimoun Ould Kacha
Used nameAlain•Mimoun
Born1 January 1921 in Le Telagh, Sidi Bel Abbès (ALG)
Died27 June 2013 in Saint-Mandé, Val-de-Marne (FRA)
Measurements170 cm / 56 kg
AffiliationsRacing Club de France, Paris (FRA)
NOC France
Nationality Algeria
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 3
Bronze 0
Total 4


One of the best distance runners after the Second World War, Alain Mimoun had the misfortune to compete in the same era as the great Emil Zátopek. Born in Algeria, then a part of France, Alain Mimoun was drafted into the French Army at the outbreak of the War, and fought in France, North Africa, Italy, and in the invasion of southern France of 1944. Despite the war, he had been able to pick up running, and after the liberation Mimoun worked as a waiter at the Racing Club de France in Paris, for which he also competed. After winning the first of his 29 French national titles in 1947, Alain Mimoun first competed in the Olympics in 1948. Still fairly unknown, Mimoun collected a silver medal in the 10,000 m, being the first of two runners not lapped by the overwhelming winner, Zátopek. The Czechoslovakian “Locomotive” would also finish ahead of Mimoun in the 1950 European Championships (5,000 and 10,000 m) and the 1952 Olympics (again 5,000 and 10,000 m). In the International Cross Country Championships (precursor of the World Championships), Zátopek did not compete, and Mimoun won the event four times (1949, 1952, 1954, 1956), finishing second twice.

But Mimoun’s ultimate moment of glory came in 1956. Making his début in the marathon, he dominated the Olympic race in Melbourne, leading from the start and winning by 1 minute 32 seconds. Zátopek, not in top shape, finished sixth. In his wonderful book, All That Glitters is Not Gold, William Oscar Johnson related 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 would make one more Olympic appearance, coming 34th in the marathon in 1960. In addition to the aforementioned prizes, Mimoun also won four gold medals in the Mediterranean Games. His last French marathon title came in 1966, winning his sixth title in that event, a record that remains unbeaten.

Personal Bests: 5000 – 14:07.58 (1952); 10000 – 29:13.4 (1956); Mar – 2-21:25 (1958).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal Nationality As
1948 Summer Olympics Athletics FRA ALG Alain Mimoun
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 6 h3 r1/2
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
1952 Summer Olympics Athletics FRA ALG Alain Mimoun
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
1956 Summer Olympics Athletics FRA ALG Alain Mimoun
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) DNS
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 12
Marathon, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
1960 Summer Olympics Athletics FRA ALG Alain Mimoun
Marathon, Men (Olympic) 34

Special Notes