Marathon’s invading priest apologizes to his victim

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – Former Irish priest Cornelius Horan has tried to make amends for his unscheduled appearance in the Olympic marathon which more or less cost Brazilian Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima the gold medal. De Lima had been leading in Athens on August 29 when he was attacked by the former priest, who is reported to have psychiatric problems, and was pushed into a group of spectators. The shaken athlete resumed his race but was overtaken by rivals and ended up claiming the bronze medal behind eventual winner Stefano Baldini of Italy. While de Lima has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in a bid to be given a gold medal alongside Baldini, Horan has tried to make amends by sending the stricken Brazilian a letter of apology. «I would like to go to Brazil, to his city (Sao Paulo), and to speak with him in his own language. I think he deserves to have an apology in his own language, because it’s an important message,» said Horan in the letter. It continued: «Dear Vanderlei, I intervened onto the marathon for two reasons: to bring the world’s attention to the Bible and to help prepare for the world’s most important event – the second coming of Jesus Christ.» Horan, 57, was handed a 12-month suspended sentence at the end of August, was fined 3,000 euros and was barred from all sports events. Brazil has requested two gold medals be awarded as they do not want eventual winner Baldini to lose his medal. The International Olympic Committee gave de Lima a medal named after the founder of the modern Games, Pierre De Coubertin, at the closing ceremony, in recognition of his «exceptional demonstration of fair play and Olympic values.» The CAS will deliver its decision within four months.