Joseph Guillemot

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Joseph Guillemot
Joseph Guillemot - 1920.jpg
Guillemot - 1920
Personal information
Born October 1, 1899 (1899-10)
Le Dorat, France
Died March 9, 1975 (1975-03-10) (aged 75)
Paris, France

Joseph Guillemot (October 1, 1899 – March 9, 1975) was a French athlete, winner of 5000 m at the 1920 Summer Olympics.

Born in Le Dorat, France, Joseph Guillemot's lungs were severely damaged by mustard gas, when he fought in World War I. Also his heart was located on the right hand side of his chest. Despite of this, Guillemot, an athlete of small size (160 cm, 54 kilos), but with extraordinary vital capacity, won his regiment's cross county championships.

In the next year Guillemot won a French Military Championships, followed by his first national championship title in 5000 m in 1920. That qualified him to the Olympic Games. In Antwerp, the main favourite was Paavo Nurmi. In the 5000 m final, Nurmi has devised a bold strategy in order to exhaust the dangerous Swedes Eric Backman and Runar Falk in the first part of the course. After three laps Nurmi takes the lead and builds more speed and only Guillemot follows him. In a half distance Guillemot still refuses to yield and Nurmi begins to lose heart. On the final curve Guillemot moved to pass Nurmi on the outside and, unaccustomed to final stretch sprinting, Nurmi gives up completely and jogs to the finish line four seconds after the winner has broken the tape.

The 10,000 m final was brought forward by almost three hours by the request of King Albert. Guillemot heard it after finishing a very large lunch. Fighting with stomach cramps and shoes that were two sizes too big (his own shoes had been stolen), Guillemot had to satisfy with the 10 000 m silver. The strain he underwent ultimately caused him to vomit his food at the award ceremony.

After the Olympics, Guillemot won the International Cross Country Championships in 1922 individually and lead French team to a first place in 1922 and 1926.[1] He won the French Nationals in 5000 m at three occasions, but missed the next Olympics due the disagreements between him and French Athletics Union. He also held two world records: 2000 m (5:34.8) and 3000 m (8:42.2).

Guillemot, a pack a day cigarette smoker, died in Paris at the age of 75.


  1. ^ International Cross Country Championships. GBR Athletics. Retrieved on 2011-02-14.