Alain Mimoun, who won the 1956 Olympic marathon after losing three races to Czech great Emil Zatopek, has died. He was 92.
Mimoun, whose death on Thursday was confirmed by France's athletics federation, won three silver medals in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics — narrowly missing the gold each time to Zatopek.
For the 1956 Games in Melbourne, Australia, he switched to the marathon from shorter-distance races and won, waiting at the finish line for Zatopek to cross in sixth place.
The men embraced and Mimoun later said, "That was better than the medal."
French President Francois Hollande said the 32-time national champion, a veteran of World War II, had served his country well.
"He left a deep mark on the history of French sports," Hollande said in a statement.
Michel Jazy, another French Olympian of the same era who shared a room with Mimoun for six weeks, described a runner of unusual intensity and professionalism.
"He woke me at 5:30 in the morning to go run, and in the evening he made me go to bed at 8:30. Even though we were at the Olympics I couldn't go to any of the parties," Jazy told RTL radio on Friday.