Profile As a child, Carlos Lopes of Portugal wanted nothing more than to play football for the local club side but his father opposed the idea so he turned to long distance running instead. History proved his father right as Lopes literally ran into the Olympic record books in 1984.
After winning the IAAF World Cross Country Championships earlier in the year, Lopes had an outside chance in the 1976 Olympic 10000m race in Montreal. He set the pace for most of the race and looked almost certain to claim the gold but he was overtaken by the great defending champion Lasse Virén of Finland, with just 450 metres to go. Lopes had to settle for silver and at the age of 29 he looked to have missed out on his last chance at an Olympic gold medal.
After missing the 1980 Olympics because of an injury, Lopes returned for the 1984 games in Los Angeles where he was nominated for the marathon. At the age of 37 and having only completed one marathon before in his life, few people were expecting any heroics from the veteran. His odds were further decreased when he was hit by a car in training, just before the race. But on 12 August 1984 everything fell in place for Lopes as one by one the favourites succumbed to the sweltering heat and he crossed the line in an Olympic record time of 2:09:21 giving Portugal its first ever Olympic gold medal.
A year later, Lopes ran the fastest time up to that date for the marathon, winning the 1985 Rotterdam marathon in a time of 2:07:12.