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Alain Mimoun, 92; marathoner won Olympic gold in 1956

Alain Mimoun crossed the finish line first at the 1956 Olympic marathon in Melbourne, Australia.

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Alain Mimoun crossed the finish line first at the 1956 Olympic marathon in Melbourne, Australia.

PARIS — Alain Mimoun, who won the 1956 Olympic marathon after losing three previous races to Czech great Emil Zatopek, died Thursday.

Mr. Mimoun, 92, won three silver medals in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics, missing the gold each time to Zatopek.

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For the 1956 Games in Melbourne, he switched to the marathon from shorter races and won, waiting at the finish for Zatopek to cross in sixth place.

The men embraced and Mr. Mimoun later said, ‘‘That was better than the medal.’’

President Francois Hollande of France 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.

Michel Jazy, another French Olympian who shared a room with Mr. 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,’’ Jazy said Friday.

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