Sohn Kee-chung – Winner of the 1936 Olympic Marathon in Berlin

During the 1996 US Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, a reporter from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (the largest newspaper in today’s Germany) interviewed Sohn Kee-chung, the winner of the 1936 Olympic Marathon in Berlin. Mr Kee-chung, a Korean, competed for Japan who occupied Korea at that time. The journalist asked Mr Kee-chung: “Were you unhappy having to compete in Berlin in 1936 on behalf of Japan?”

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The Gold medal-winner answered: “No, I really don’t want to talk about politics. After my victory German soldiers filled my bed with roses. I asked, after the victory, the delegate of the Japanese Olympic Committee if he could arrange a meeting between me and Adolf Hitler. Hitler came from honourable’s tribune down to me, that was a great honour for me. He gave me a handshake, I remember how large his hands were. I brought with me six photos of him and he signed them all. He believed I was a Japanese and said I should do something for the youth in Japan when I got back home. . I said, I won because the people along the route cheer at me. Hitler smiled at me and gave me a tap on my shoulders.”