Olympics and History of the Modern Games London 1908 Part 2

About the Olympics and the modern games, account of the games in London, England in 1908.

LONDON, ENGLAND, 1908

After a protest by Coach Mike Murphy of the U.S., and a bitter argument, Dorando was disqualified and the Olympic medal was awarded to Hayes.

In defeat, Dorando became an international hero. Especially in America, where the cult of the underdog was invoked, Dorando became a household name. In New York there was a Dorando craze. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to see the Great Almost.

So, in December, 1908, he was brought, by promoters, to New York. He was greeted, by press and sport fans, as a conquering hero. Irving Berlin wrote a song, Run, Run, You Son of a Gun, Dorando. Willie Hammerstein contracted Dorando to appear on the stage of his topical vaudeville house, the Victoria, at Broadway and 42nd. On the same stage Hammerstein was presenting Jack Johnson, cartoonists Rube Goldberg and Bud Fisher, Sober Sue ("You Can't Make Her Laugh--$1,000 If You Can!"), and the film The Great Train Robbery. Daily, Dorando appeared on the Victoria stage. According to one account, "Dorando could not speak a word of English. He simply appeared, in a misfit suit of foreign clothes, gawky and ill at ease, while Loney Haskell went into his lecture."

To see Dorando on the stage, in the streets, in the press, was not enough. New York wanted to see him run. So Dornado turned professional, and met Tom Longboat in a special match race in the old Madison Square Garden. It was a sellout. Longboat set a fast pace from the opening gun, then Dorando stepped in front. With the tape a half mile away, Longboat caught Dorando. They matched it stride for stride, but Dorando couldn't make it. He broke, wobbled, fell unconscious from exhaustion. Longboat was the winner. Three weeks later, in Buffalo, Dorando ran against Longboat again. This time he permitted Longboat to get far out in front, then set out to catch him. After 18 mi., Dorando fell to his knees in defeat.

He returned to New York, found the big town was too busy for him. He went home to Italy, richer, to receive a belated hero's welcome. After a few years he drifted into obscurity, only to be resurrected by Mussolini. He was given a pension to discover marathon runners who would win for a new Italy. He worked with Boyd Comstock, the University of Southern California pole-vaulter, who was a coach under Il Duce. He bought a hotel in San Remo, slept in a room papered with photographs of himself and 1908-1909 clippings from New York papers, and became Italy's foremost sport legend.

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