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117 Years On: France wants U.S to return 1904 Olympic medals


Albert Corey was one of the heroes of the 1904 Olympic Games after winning two silver medals in the marathon and 4 mile team race. He died on 3rd August 1926 at the age of 48.

He was hailed as an American track star, with the 26-year-old’s name going down in history at the first games where gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to participants.

But Corey was in fact French and 117 years on from his Olympic success, France wants his medals returned and the record books set straight.

A local councilor in Corey’s home town of Meursault has asked the French Olympic Committee to press the issue with the International Olympic Committee after discovering his story by chance.

Albert Corey won two Olympic silver medals for the U.S. at the 1904 Olympic Games but a historian in France has revealed he was in fact French. Now, France wants his medals back and the record books set straight.

“France did not officially participate in those Olympics [in 1904],” Clement Genty told AFP. “After digging a little deeper, we discovered there was a French citizen living in America who took part in the Olympics and won two silver medals.”

Corey was born in Meursault in 1878 and enrolled in the French army in 1896 but records show that in 1903 he went absent without leave after fleeing to America to pursue his running dream.

Albert Corey one of the heroes of 1904 Olympic Games

Then aged 25, Corey had excelled as a runner in the army ranks, breaking the 160 kilometer record in 1899. When he arrived in America, he joined a running club in Chicago and was picked to represent the First Regiment Athletic Association of Chicago at the 1904 games in St Louis.

Corey finished third in the marathon but was upgraded to second place after the gold medalist, Fred Lorz, was found to have cheated by hitching a lift in a car.

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Half of the participants dropped out at various stages of the race because of the sweltering heat but afterwards Corey boasted to newspaper reporters that he “could’ve done one more lap.”

Gold was awarded to British-born American Thomas Hicks in a time of three hours, 28 minutes and 53 seconds to beat Corey by six minutes. Corey was almost 13 minutes ahead of the bronze medalist.


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