Kitei Son breaking the tape at the finish of the 1936 Olympic Marathon.
By Karl Lennartz (GER)
On the 15th of November 2002 the Olympic marathon champion of 1936, Kitei SON (Sohn Kee-Chung), died in Korea at the age of 90. Alongside Spiridon Louis and Emil ZATOPEK, Kitei SON was arguably the most outstanding marathon runner of the early days of this discipline. Therefore a longer obituary and an investigation on the marathon race of 1936 seems appropriate.Many best times in Japan In the early 1930’s the worlds top marathon runners already achieved times under 2:35:00h. Whilst the performances stagnated in the US, Great Britain and above all in Europe, a big boost in performance was recorded in Japan. During the Championships in Tokyo on November 3rd 1933, Kozo KUSUNOKI finished in 2:31:10h, thus improving the Japanese record.