Spyridon LouisSpyridon Louis was born in 1872 at Maroussi, a village near Athens. His job was to sell water in the villages nearby. During his military service, he became famous for his virtue of running "faster than a horse". He participated in the Olympic Games of 1896 and he competed with with 18 athletes in the Marathon Race. Upon his victory in the race, the crowd expressed enormous enthusiasm.
Spyros Louis, an ordinary man with neither special education nor special training, always wearing the national Greek costume, became a legend; many writers dedicated poems and hymns to him and the press declared him a hero. Nowadays there is still an expression in modern Greek language, showing the vitality of this legend: "he became Louis", refers to someone who can disappear quickly.
In spite of his glory, Louis' life was difficult. He was working hard to earn a living, he also faced a lot of problems with his wife's health; he even went to prison, unfairly accused for forgery, but the general public still supported him. Soon, justice recognized him asa victim and released him.
In 1935, the Olympic Games held at Berlin were dedicated to Louis. He went to Berlin as the official representative of Greece carrying the Olympic symbol of Greece, an olive branch. This was his last public appearance. He died in 1940, leaving behind a strong myth that surpassed his earthy personality.
Konstantinos Tsiklitiras Konstantinos Tsiklitiras was born in Pylos and came to Athens for studies, where he became member of the Panhellenic Gymnastic Society. Before the Olympics of 1912, he participated in many other athletic competitions where he was often declared the winner in the high jump.
In the Olympic Games of 1912 in Stockholm, he became the winner of the high jump. His words transport us in the special atmosphere of that day:
"I did not understand how I won to the Games. I could not describe what happened. Other people, after my victory, described to me how I won. I did not realized what was happening. I just remember people hugging and kissing me. Their voices still echoes in my ear. The first time I realized what did happen, was when I saw the Greek flag weaving higher than the American ones. I will never feel that way in my life again." (interview, 1912)
In 1913, while serving in the army during the first Balkan War, he died from a disease.
E. Zappas | D. Vikelas | G. Averoff