Spyridon Louis, generally known as Spyros Louis, was a Greek water carrier who won the first modern-day Olympic marathon at the 1896 Summer Olympics. Following his victory, he was celebrated as a national hero. A former soldier, Louis was encouraged to try out for the Olympics by his former commanding officer.
As the winner of the first Olympic marathon at Athens in 1896, Spyridon Louis’s place in sporting history is assured. Having placed only fifth in one of the Greek trial races, he was not favoured to win the Olympic title. Still, his unexpected triumph gave Greece its only victory in a track & field athletics event at the 1896 Olympics Games, and Louis was accorded the status of a national hero.
Despite the acclaim, Louis returned to his village of Amarousi, where he worked as a shepherd and mineral water seller, and he never raced again. He later became a rural police officer but lost his job when imprisoned for falsifying military documents in 1926. He spent more than a year in jail before his trial on 28 June 1927, when he was acquitted. He remained an Olympic legend and was a guest of the Organizing Committee at the 1936 Games in Berlin. The 2004 Olympic Stadium was built in Amarousi and named after him.
In Sydney Australia a sculpture commemorates Spyros Louis, winner of the first Olympic marathon in 1896.