Michel Théato

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Michel Théato
Michel Théato in 1900
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing  France
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1900 Paris Marathon

Michel Johann Théato (22 March 1878 – 2 April 1923) was a Luxembourgian long-distance runner, and the winner of the marathon at the 1900 Olympics in Paris for France. He was born in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg and died in Paris, France.[1]

Early life[edit]

Little is known about Théato's early life. For many years it was believed he was a baker's delivery boy in Paris. He also worked for some time as a cabinetmaker. In the 20th century, Alain Bouillé discovered that Théato was born in Luxembourg and had moved to Belgium before settling down in the Paris suburbs. There is no evidence that Théato ever applied for French citizenship.[2] Théato was a member of the athletics club in Saint-Mandé in Paris.[1]

1900 Olympics[edit]

The marathon started at 2:30pm in blazing heat. There were only 13 starters of the race, of whom 6 finished.[3] Théato won the race with a time of 2:59:45.[4]

Théato's victory was initially disputed, as several opponents, including American runner Arthur Newton, claimed that Théato had taken shortcuts, helped by his local knowledge of the Parisian streets through his job as a delivery boy. These assertions have been disproven.[how?] As a result of the disputes, Théato did not receive his gold medal until 1912.[5]

Later life[edit]

Théato later became a professional runner, although with relatively little success. He set a personal best in the marathon of 2:42 in 1901.[1] The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg lodged a complaint with the International Olympic Committee in 2004 to change the Olympic record of Théato's nationality.[2] The claim was rejected by the IOC.


  1. ^ a b c "Michel Théato". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "Michel THEATO (1878-1919)". pierrelagrue-jo.com. Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  3. ^ "Olympic Games 1900 - Paris". olympicgamesmarathon.com. Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  4. ^ "Athletics at the 1900 Paris Summer Games: Men's Marathon". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  5. ^ "1900: PARIS: Theato Or The Contest Victory". marathoninfo.free.fr. Retrieved 20 April 2017.