ATHENS, Greece -- A defrocked Irish priest bolted from the
crowd and grabbed the marathon leader about three miles from the
finish Sunday. The Brazilian runner wound up with the bronze -- and
a special award for sportsmanship -- and the former priest was
Cornelius Horan, 57, was wearing a green beret, a red kilt and
knee-high green socks when he attacked Brazilian runner Vanderlei de Lima, knocking him into the crowd. De Lima was able to recover and finish, but was passed by two runners about a mile after the incident.
"I was scared, because I didn't know what could happen to me,
whether he was armed with a knife, a revolver or something and
whether he was going to kill me," de Lima said.
"I don't know if I would have won, but things would have been
different," he said. "After that, it was hard to get my rhythm
back. It really distracted me."
Horan received a one-year suspended sentence Monday and was fined $3,600.
"This means he will probably do this again and get killed, as
in Formula One, or kill someone," de Lima said.
Athens police sources identified the intruder as
Horan, who has been barred from practicing as a priest for the past
decade. He once published a book called "A Glorious New World Very
Soon To Come" that predicted the world was about to end.
The attacker Sunday night had a piece of paper attached to his
back bearing the message: "The Grand Prix Priest Israel
Fulfillment of Prophecy Says the Bible."
In July 2003, Horan, in a costume similar to Sunday's, ran onto
the track at the British Grand Prix in the middle of the race and
stayed there for more than 20 seconds, forcing Formula One racers
traveling at more than 200 mph to swerve around him. He was
carrying a sign that said: "Read the Bible -- the Bible is always
British authorities said Horan also attempted a protest on
Wimbledon's Center Court during a rain break, and tried to disrupt
cricket and rugby matches.
On Sunday, Horan jumped from the crowd, ran across the street
and grabbed de Lima. A policeman following the leader on a bicycle
jumped off and helped free the Brazilian.
De Lima, whose lead had been slowly shrinking, was
able to get back into the race. But he lost several seconds as a
result of the attack, and eventually was overtaken by Stefano
Baldini of Italy and Mebrahtom Keflezighi of the United States. De
Lima finished third.
The Brazilian track federation protested the result and sought a
duplicate gold medal for de Lima, but while the jurors expressed
sympathy, they said they couldn't change the result. Brazil said it
would appeal to sports' international arbitration panel.
"I'm not going to cry forever about the incident, although it
broke my concentration," de Lima said, "but I managed to finish
and the bronze medal in such a difficult marathon is also a great
The International Olympic Committee said it would present de
Lima with its Pierre de Coubertin medal in recognition of his
"exceptional demonstration of fair play and Olympic values."
"I think the Olympic spirit prevailed and I prevailed. I was
able to show that determination wins races," de Lima said after
receiving his bronze medal at the Olympics' closing ceremony.
"What prevailed here was the Olympic spirit. Never mind the
result of the appeal. I'm very happy to have won this medal."
When the incident occurred, dozens of flag-waving Brazilian fans
at the stadium that marked the marathon's end were watching the
front-runners on a giant screen. They suddenly went silent and the
huge crowd gasped.
The police sources said Horan arrived in Athens just before dawn
Sunday aboard a British Airways flight.
Horan was to be taken to a prosecutor on Monday, the sources
said. It was unclear whether he would be charged or remanded for
On Aug. 16, a Canadian man wearing tights and a tutu jumped into
the Olympic diving pool after a competition. He was convicted of
interrupting the games and sentenced to five months in prison,
although he remains free pending appeal.