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Marathon Winner in '36 Berlin Games Will Be Given Prize--50 Years Late : from

August 10, 1986|Reuters

WEST BERLIN — Fifty years after sprinting to victory in the 1936 Olympic marathon in Berlin, 74-year-old South Korean Kee Chung Sohn is to receive his prize--an antique Greek warrior's helmet that is 2,000 years old.

The helmet had been promised to the winner of the marathon by an Athens newspaper whose publisher bought it after it was discovered during an archeological dig in Olympia in the 1920s.

But the International Olympic Committee decided that awarding the prize would violate strict rules for amateur athletes and the helmet, said by experts to be priceless, ended up in the Charlottenberg Museum, now in West Berlin.

Fourteen years of bitter exchanges between the museum, the IOC and officials in the South Korean capital of Seoul about ownership of the ancient headgear were sparked in 1972 during the Munich Olympics.

They will be resolved this week when Kee is given the helmet as part of reunion celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Olympics.

Kee was a little-known athlete when, running for Japan, he won the 26-mile marathon. He trained long-distance runners for many years and now says his dearest wish is to watch the games in Seoul in 1988.

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