Stylianos Kyriakides History


The OPAP Limassol Marathon, is dedicated to the legendary long-distance runner, Stylianos Kyriakides. 

As a tribute to the life, work, and achievements of Stylianos Kyriakides our medal design now clearly states that the race is dedicated to Stylianos Kyriakides. All runners, local and international, that will participate in the event will get our medal and get to know the story of Stylianos Kyriakides.

He was born in the mountain village of Statos, near Paphos, Cyprus on January 15, 1910.

The youngest of five children, he left home to find work and help his poor farming family. Following a variety of jobs, he ended up as a "house-boy" for Dr. Cheverton, a British medical officer. (Cyprus was still under British rule at the time). As an athlete himself, Cheverton encouraged the 22-year-old Kyriakides to start running, gave him his first running gear, coaching advice and taught him to speak English. At his first Pan-Cyprian games in 1932, Kyriakides won both the 1,500 and 10,000 metres on Friday, followed by both the 5,000 and 20,000 metres on Sunday. Hailed as a great talent, he was asked to run in the national championships in Greece, where he came first in the Marathon. Kyriakides competed for Greece in the 1936 Summer Olympics, placing 11th. He was invited by his friend and fellow Berlin marathoner, Johnny Kelley, to participate in the Boston Marathon in the late 1930s. On the day of the marathon, he wore new shoes, which injured his feet and caused him to place poorly. 

He returned to Greece and survived the German occupation during World War II. Between 1942 and 1944, Kyriakides was part of the Greek resistance. With the Greek Civil War raging, he returned to win the 1946 Boston Marathon. In order to get there, he had to sell his furniture, enabling him to buy a single ticket. According to a newspaper report, he was running with Johnny Kelley near the end, when an old man shouted from the crowd, "For Greece, for your children!" Johnny Kelley purchased the shoes that Stelios Kyriakides used in his victory with a time of 2:29:27. According to Life magazine, he shouted 'For Greece' as he crossed the finish line. He begged America for its help and they responded. When he returned to Greece, he arrived with 25,000 tons of supplies in American aid, including in cash. Over one million Greeks from all over the country lined the streets of Athens to greet him. 

In 1948 he finished 18th in the Olympic marathon at the London Games. He died in Athens in 1987. 

A sculpture of Kyriakides called "The Spirit of the Marathon" was unveiled in Boston in 2004. It is at the 1-mile mark of the marathon in Hopkinton. It was commissioned by the Hopkinton Athletic Association and was dedicated in 2006 to mark the 60th anniversary of Kyriakides' victory in the 1946 race. 

Stelios Kyriakides, after the race stayed for about a month in America, aiming at gathering economic aid for Greece. As his victory caused sympathy to Americans for Greeks, he eventually managed to reach an amount and with the aid of the Livanos family sent two ships with basic necessities (food, clothing, and medicine). This assistance was called " Package Kyriakides". In May 1947, a year after his victory and as a result of the publicity that was given to the economic problems of Greece, as a result of the Boston Marathon, the US government send an amount called the Marshall Plan. On 23 May 1946, Kyriakides returned to Greece, where about one million Greeks greeted him as a hero. Then, a formal ceremony was held at the Temple of Zeus, where Kyriakides stating: "I am proud to be Greek " moving to the crowd. For the first time since the Nazi's Occupation, the Acropolis was illuminated in his honor.

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