Michel Johann Théato (22 March 1878 – 2 April 1923) was a Luxembourgian long-distance runner, and the winner of the marathon at the 1900 Olympics in Paris for France. He was born in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg and died in Paris, France.
Théato in 1900
Little is known about Théato's early life. For many years it was believed he was a baker's delivery boy in Paris. He also worked for some time as a cabinetmaker. In the 20th century, Alain Bouillé discovered that Théato was born in Luxembourg and had moved to Belgium before settling down in the Paris suburbs. There is no evidence that Théato ever applied for French citizenship. Théato was a member of the athletics club in Saint-Mandé in Paris.
Théato's victory was initially disputed, as several of his opponents, including American runner Arthur Newton, who finished fifth, alleged that Théato had cheated by taking multiple shortcuts, helped by his local knowledge of the Parisian streets through his job as a delivery boy. These allegations have since been disproved, but as a result of them, Théato did not receive the gold medal until 1912.
Théato later became a professional runner, although with relatively little success. He set a personal best in the marathon of 2:42 in 1901.
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg lodged an official complaint with the International Olympic Committee and petitioned to change the Olympic record of Théato's nationality; the complaint was officially rejected in 2004.
- Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Michel Théato". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
- "Michel THEATO (1878-1919)". pierrelagrue-jo.com. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
- "Olympic Games 1900 - Paris". olympicgamesmarathon.com. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
- Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Athletics at the 1900 Paris Summer Games: Men's Marathon". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
- "1900: PARIS: Theato Or The Contest Victory". marathoninfo.free.fr. Retrieved 20 April 2017.