Carlos Lopes

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Carlos Alberto de Sousa Lopes, <small>GCIH</small>, (, born February 18, 1947) is a former Portuguese long-distance athlete, winner of the marathon race at the 1984 Summer Olympics, in Los Angeles. He brought home Portugal's first ever Olympic gold medal along with a new Olympic record - 2:09.21.

Born in Vildemoinhos, near Viseu, Portugal, Carlos Lopes worked as a stonecutter's helper. He wanted to play football at the local club, but his father opposed this, so he turned to other forms of athletics. In 1967 he was personally invited to join the athletics team of Sporting Clube de Portugal, and remained there until the end of his career in 1985. He was an average quality long distance runner, until he made an astonishing breakthrough in 1976, aged 29.

Career

His 1976 campaign began with a victory at the prestigious IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Chepstow, Wales. Competing in the 10,000 meters at the Montreal 1976 Summer Olympics, Lopes set the pace from the 4000m mark, and the only athlete to follow him was defending double Olympic champion Lasse Virén. Virén passed Lopes with a lap to go to win the gold medal, and Lopes finished a comfortable second. Lopes ran the first 5,000 metres in 14 minutes 8.94 seconds, and the second 5,000 metres in 13:36.23, a remarkable proof of his ability to steadily accelerate his pace. What he generally lacked in the track races, however, was an ability to...
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