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Archivists find footage of 1896 Olympic marathon winner’s victory lap

Spyridon Louis
Spyridon Louis

1896: Greek shepherd Spyridon Louis (1873 - 1940), winner of the 40 km marathon at the first modern Olympic Games, held in Athens in 1896. He was later chosen to kindle the Olympic flame at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. (Photo by Schirner/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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Footage of the first modern Olympic marathon winner’s victory lap was uncovered as part of a seven-year, $33 million project to rescue archived footage from the International Olympic Committee’s basement in Lausanne, Switzerland, according to Agence France-Presse.

A conservation project launched in 2007 dug into some 33,000 hours of video, 500,000 pictures and 2,000 documents, according to the report.

Prized items from the project include footage of Greek shepherd Spyridon Louis’ victory lap after winning the marathon at the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896 and audio recording of modern Olympic founder Pierre de Coubertin.

Louis later attended the Berlin 1936 Olympics, where he was received by Adolf Hitler, and had the Athens 2004 Olympic Stadium named after him.

Louis reflected in 1936 on the moments after his 1896 Olympic title, according to the IOC:

“That hour was something unimaginable, and it still appears to me in my memory like a dream,” Louis said. “Twigs and flowers were raining down on me. Everybody was calling out my name and throwing their hats in the air.”

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