Joseph Guillemot in 1920
|Born||1 October 1899
Le Dorat, France
|Died||9 March 1975 (aged 75)
|Height||1.60 m (5 ft 3 in)|
|Weight||55 kg (121 lb)|
|Achievements and titles|
|Personal best(s)||1500 m – 4:02.4 (1920)
5000 m – 14:55.6 (1920)
10,000 m – 31:47.2 (1920)
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, 55 kg), 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 devised a bold strategy to exhaust the Swedes Eric Backman and Rudolf Falk in the first part of the course. After three laps Nurmi took the lead and built more speed, and only Guillemot followed him. On the final curve Guillemot moved to pass Nurmi on the outside. Nurmi gave up and finished four seconds behind.
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 a silver medal. 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, individually in 1922 and with the French team in 1922 and 1926. He won the French 5000 m title on 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Joseph Guillemot.|