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Photographs supplied by Sandra Brown
Statue of Spyros Louis, water-carrier and winner of the first modern Olympic marathon in 1896. The statue is  represented with its classic “foustanela”.

The Spyros Louis statue was commissioned in 2011, to represent the Olympic spirit and friendship between Australian Olympian Edwin Flack and Greek Spyros Louis. The statue is installed next to the statue of the first Australian Olympian Edwin Flack. Led by Mr Aristos Panagakis, the initiative for the statue erecting belongs to The Australian Hellenic Organisation in Support of the Olympic Spirit and Ideal.

Spiridon ("Spyros") Louis (January 12, 1873 – March 26, 1940) was a Greek water-carrier who won the first modern-day Olympic marathon at the 1896 Summer Olympics, thereby becoming a national hero. In the Marathon, Colonel Papadiamantopoulos gave the starting signal for the small field, consisting of thirteen athletes from Greece and four from other nations. The lead was taken over by Edwin Flack, an Australian runner who had already been victorious in the Olympic 800 and 1500 m. Louis slowly closed in on Flack. The Australian, not used to running long distances, collapsed a few kilometers onwards, giving Louis the lead.

In the stadium, the atmosphere was tense, especially after a cyclist brought the news that the Australian was in the lead. But another messenger was sent out by the police as soon as Louis moved into the lead, and as the word spread that it was a Greek that led the race, the cry "Hellene, Hellene!" was taken up by thousands of rapturous spectators.

In 1926, Louis was arrested on charges of falsifying military documents and was imprisoned. After spending more than a year in jail, he was found not guilty, and was acquitted. The affair predictably caused a press uproar.

His last public appearance came in 1936, when he was invited to be a guest of honour by the organizers of the 1936 Summer Olympics, held in Berlin. After bearing the standard of the Greek team during the opening ceremonies, he was received by Adolf Hitler and offered him an olive branch from Olympia the birthplace of the Olympic Games, as a symbol of peace.

Several months before the Italian invasion of Greece, Louis died. Many sports clubs in Greece and abroad still carry his name, as does the main stadium at the Athens Olympic Sports Complex, where the 2004 Summer Olympics were held, as well as the road passing outside.



Address:High Street, next to Edwin Flack statue, Berwick, 3806
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -38.031038
Long: 145.344434
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Sculpture
Monument Theme:People
Monument Designer:Michael Meszaros


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Friday 25th October, 2013
Front Inscription

Spyridon "Spyros" Louis

12 January 1873 - 26 March 1940

Spyridon Louis was modern Greece`s first Olympic Gold medallist at the 1896 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Spyridon Louis and local athlete Edwin FLack competed against each other in the Men`s Marathon at the summer Olympics, with Louis recording a winning time of 2:58:50.

Despite the acclaim, Louis never raced again, instead returning to his village of Amarousi, Greece, where he worked as a shepherd and seller of mineral water.

Australia and Greece are the only countries to have participated in every modern Olympics since 1896.

This statue, by sculptor Michael Meszaros, was erected in recognition of the friendship between Louis and Flack and the proud Olympic heritage that Australia and Greece share.

The statue was made possible through the contributions of the State Government of Victoria and Australian Hellenic Organisation in support of the Olympic sport and ideal.

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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