At the 1908 Olympic Games in London, Emilio Lunghi, of Sport Pedestre Genova, became the first Italian to win an Olympic medal. His time in the 800 meter race was 1:54.2 seconds, which beat the previous Olympic record by 1.8 seconds, but was still 1.4 seconds behind Melvin Sheppard of the Irish-American Athletic Club.
Impressed with the performance of the twenty-two year old mid-distance runner from Genoa, the I-AAC persuaded him to come to New York and compete for the Winged Fist organization, which he did the following year.
In 1909, Lunghi competed for the Irish-American Athletic Club, setting three world records. He broke the world’s record for the 700 yard distance with a time of 1:27.8 seconds at the Tailtin Games held at the Irish-American Athletic Club’s Celtic Park stadium in Queens, New York on September 7. Eight days later, he broke the world’s record in the 880 yard distance with a time of 1:52.8 seconds at the Canadian championship games held in Montreal. During his one-year stint with the I-AAC, he also broke the world’s record for the two-thirds of a mile distance with a time of 2:45.6 seconds.
For his accomplishments during his time as runner with the I-AAC, Lunghi was extended honorific lifetime membership in the Irish-American Athletic Club in 1911.
Born in Genoa, Italy on March 16, 1886, Lunghi died in his hometown on September 27, 1925 at the age of 38.
Emilio Lunghi's grave in Genoa, Italy. Photo courtesy Find-a-Grave.
LUNGHI CAPTURES 600-YARD... NYT, Aug. 23, 1909.
THREE NEW RECORDS IN TAILTIN GAMES; Emilio Lunghi of Italy Cuts Down Time in 700 Yards... NYT, September 7, 1909.
LUNGHI RUNS FAST RACE... NYT, Sept. 28, 1909.
FOREIGN ATHLETES IN A.A.U. MEET... NYT, Oct. 3, 1909.
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