June 2013 Archives
Alain Mimoun was one of the classiest athletes of the 20th century. The late Emil Zatopek told me the story about Alain Mimoun waiting for him at the finish of the 1956 Melbourne Marathon. Emil's eyes twinkled when he spoke of Alain, with the respect that ONLY someone who has raced against the other can understand.
Alain Mimoun won three silver medals in Olympic Games behind Zatopek and four European titles silver medals behind Zatopek. It was only in the 1956 Olympic games, at the age of 35, that Alain Mimoun won his first Olympic games gold medal. He waited the five minutes for his friend and rival, Emil Zatopek to finish sixth. Zatopek took his hat off to give Alain a military salute. Mimoun told reporters that Zatopek's salute was more important to him than a gold medal.
As for the comments on his nationality found on the Guardian newspaper site, Mimoun, fought like many against the Fascists in WW2, in the Free French Forces, including members of the later Algerian resistance. One must not, I was taught judge someone by the standards of today, but of the standards of his time.
Alain Mimoun nearly lost his foot in the battle for Sicily. In Paris, after WW2, Alain changed his name from Ali to the French Alain. Mimoun was already a fine runner before the second World War.
Alain Mimoun won over 80 French championships, the last one in his seventies. He won his last marathon French champs at age of 46. Until the age of 90, Mimoun ran every other day.
Alain Mimoun was a man who had seen the worst and best in man. Zatopek spoke of Mimoun with affection in his interview with me (1991), for nearly an hour. When I asked him about Alain, he said that Mimoun was a tough competitor, and always a gentleman.
Mimoun was and is loved by French sports fans and real track fans. His lesson about taking five Euro and Olympic medals before winning his first gold is a lesson for all about perseverance.
Pat Butcher, one of our favorite writers, wrote a monograph about Alain Mimoun. It is fitting that we publish Butcher's tribute to Alain Mimoun here. (Please subscriber to www.globerunner.org).