Marathon trophy from 1896 Olympics goes on display in Greece

Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:06am EDT
 
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By Renee Maltezou

ATHENS (Reuters) - The trophy won by the marathon winner at the 1896 Olympics has gone on display for the first time in Greece, and the new owners and prime minister said they hoped it would help inspire Greeks to overcome economic crisis.

The Breal's Silver Cup, which stands just six inches tall, has been described as one of the most important pieces of memorabilia associated with the Games.

When it was sold in April by the grandson of the victor, Greek athlete Spyros Louis, it smashed the previous auction record for an Olympic artifact.

The Athens-based Stavros Niarchos Foundation paid more than 650,000 euros ($814,000)to acquire the cup. It said it wanted to keep it in Greece, which won it 116 years ago and is now in its deepest recession since World War Two.

"In these tough times, all Greeks must follow the bravery, resilience and fighting spirit that made Spyros Louis win," Andreas Dracopoulos, head of the foundation, said on Monday when the trophy went on display.

"We must work hard, this time not to win a cup but to stand, proud, on our feet again."

Athens' Acropolis museum will keep the cup, named after French philologist Michel Breal, until September 2013. It will eventually go on display in a planned new cultural centre.

Louis was the only Greek athlete to win at the 14-nation 1896 Games in Athens. He finished the 25-mile (40-km) race first after the previous leader, Australian Edwin Flack, collapsed in the final stages.   Continued...

 
A visitor stands behind the Breal's Silver Cup, which was awarded to Spyros Louis, winner of the marathon race at the 1896 Olympics in Athens, during a presentation ceremony at the Athens Acropolis Museum August 27, 2012. REUTERS/John Kolesidis