The photo is worn out, equipment from another time. “Marcel” tall, crumpled shorts, lace-leather shoes, Albert Corey is about to win a silver medal at the 1904 Olympics. “A Beautiful Story” amazes Clement Genti, engineer and amateur historian.
“I knew of its presence in a newspaper, and I did some research,” explains the municipal councilor (without a label) in Mirsalt (C டிte d’Or), where Albert Corey, the son of a brewer, was born in 1878. There this year, Pyloxera destroys the town of this small village, which is not yet a valuable appeal. Albert’s father, Etienne Corey, was forced to leave the suburbs of Paris.
At the age of 18, Albert joined the army. He found a prize for endurance and broke the 160km record. Proud of its home, the military turns it into a showpiece and funds its exploits. But on January 2, 1903 he missed. Here he is, an escapee. He moved from France to Chicago, where he became a striker in butcheries.
Participating in the Olympics in a lie
Albert Corey sees the future in athletics. As the Washington Times says about him, with his dangerous English and his “nomadic” appearance. Regardless, he bravely tries his luck. The French athlete knows that the Olympics will be held on American soil. To participate, he claims to have competed in the “Paris Marathon”. A half lie. He took part, but in the confusion with the Olympic marathon of the same year he believes this participation to be very valuable. He fools the Chicago Athletic Association (CAA), which sends him to St. Louis.
Magazines fascinated by his path fell in love with this “Frenchman”, “even the meat servant”, who became the “new star for the marathon”. The only French representative in these distant and most expensive games was Albert Corey.
The marathon began on August 30, 1904, to alleviate the heat. A bizarre (and dangerous) idea, the organizers offer only one water supply to test the effects of dehydration. Thirty or more of the participants, more than half, will leave.
40 km from the Cory event. (Distance not yet determined for 42.195 km) Finished in third place. But the winner is ultimately unworthy of having done a part of the journey by car.
IOC recognizes error
So France, which was discovered during the Olympics, could have had its first silver medal, the “gold-silver-bronze” prize system. “But he belongs to an American club. So he was considered an American by the rules of the time, ”Clement Genti told AFP.
The municipal councilor wants to correct this injustice. Since Cory won his second medal at this Olympics, he is still silver in an “international team race”. On January 25, he received a letter from the International Olympic Committee (IOC): “The only participant and medalist of the French nationality in this edition of the Games is Mr. Victor.
After his achievement of 1904, Albert Corey’s playing career came to an end. In 1909, he was driven by a car, but never regained his status. He returned to France in the summer of 1910 to resume military life and died in 1926, probably of tuberculosis.
Grandson of Serge Connaught Albert Corey. At the age of 69, Clement discovered the story of his ancestor at the call of Genti.
“I fell from the clouds,” he told AFP from the small Jura village of Moyrans-en-Montagne, where he retired. “In our family, we never talked about America and sports. We don’t know anything about it.”