Greek runner Sylianos Kyriakides has been a national legend since he won the 50th Boston Marathon for Greece in 1946.
On that day, April 20, Kyriakides had come from his civil war-ravaged homeland and had even sold his furniture beforehand to afford a single plane ticket from Greece.
Needless to say, few expected him to emerge victorious in the race.
Kyriakides’ subsequent triumph is stuff of legends. His final time of 2:29:27 was the fastest marathon time of 1946 — and 14 minutes faster than his previous personal best.
Following the race, Kyriakides stayed in the United States for close to a month to raise funds and awareness about the plight of the Greek people. His victory increased American sympathy for Greece and led to massive publicity about the country’s post-war economic struggles.
When Kyriakides returned to Greece on May 23, 1946 he arrived with 25,000 tons of supplies in American aid — including $250,000 in cash. Approximately one million Greeks greeted him as a hero and the Athens Acropolis was illuminated in his honor.
During coverage of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, NBC aired a mini documentary about the life of Kyriakides.
See the full documentary
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