| Event type

Marathon, Men

Date 1 December 1956 — 15:15
LocationMelbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Victoria
Participants46 from 23 countries
Format42,195 metres (26 miles, 385 yards) out-and-back.

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.

1Alain MimounFRA2-25:00Gold
2Franjo MihalićYUG2-26:32Silver
3Veikko KarvonenFIN2-27:47Bronze
4Lee Chang-HunKOR2-28:45
5Yoshiaki KawashimaJPN2-29:19
6Emil ZátopekTCH2-29:34
7Ivan FilinURS2-30:37
8Evert NybergSWE2-31:12
9Thomas NilssonSWE2-33:33
10Eino OksanenFIN2-36:10
11Arnold VaideSWE2-36:21
12Choi Chung-SikKOR2-36:53
13Paavo KotilaFIN2-38:59
14Mercer DaviesRSA2-39:48
15Harry HicksGBR2-39:55
16Hideo HamamuraJPN2-40:53
17Albert RichardsNZL2-41:34
18John RussellAUS2-41:44
19Lothar BeckertGER2-42:10
20Nick CostesUSA2-42:20
21Johnny KelleyUSA2-43:40
22Muhammad Havildar AslamPAK2-44:33
23Dolfi GruberAUT2-46:20
24Aurèle VandendriesscheBEL2-47:18
25Keith OllerenshawAUS2-48:12
26Myitung NawMYA2-49:32
27Pavel KantorekTCH2-52:05
28Kurt HartungGER2-52:14
29Bashay FelekeETH2-53:37
30 Abdul RashidPAK2-57:47
31Kanuti SumKEN2-58:42
32Gebre BirkayETH2-58:49
33Kurao HiroshimaJPN3-04:17
DNFBoris GrishayevURS
DNFJan BarnardRSA
DNFFred NorrisGBR
DNFAlbert IvanovURS
DNFJuan SilvaCHI
DNFKlaus PorbadnikGER
DNFRino LavelliITA
DNFEduardo FontecillaCHI
DNFDean ThackwrayUSA
DNFAli BaghbanbashiIRI
DNSRudy MéndezPUR
DNSDemissie GamatchoETH