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30 Aug 2004 00:00
The final event of the Athens Olympics was marred on Sunday when a former Irish priest leapt from the crowd on the marathon route and attacked the race leader.
Cornelius “Neil” Horan, who ran on to the track during the 2003 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, burst on to the road near the 35km mark and forced the leader, the Brazilian Vanderlei de Lima, into the crowd.
Horan (56) was dressed in a beret and a kilt bearing the Star of David.
After a brief scuffle, during which Horan appeared to kick de Lima, the Brazilian resumed the race looking shocked and having lost more than 10 seconds of his 40-second lead.
About a kilometre later he had been overtaken by the eventual winner, Stefano Baldini, and finished third.
After considering an appeal by the Brazilian Olympic Association, the International Olympic Committee said results would stand. However, in recognition of de Lima’s “exceptional demonstration of fair play and Olympic values” it awarded him the Pierre de Coubertin medal, named after the founder of the modern Olympics.
“It was crazy on the course, it was bad,” de Lima said after the race. “It disturbed me a lot.”
Horan, from Nunhead, south London, was sentenced to two months in jail for the Silverstone stunt.
He told Northampton magistrates he had run on to the track to “promote the Bible”. - Guardian Unlimited
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