Who is Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima?

Friday August 5th, 2016

Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima lit the Olympic cauldron to kick off the Rio games on Friday. 

Here are five facts about the 47-year-old former marathon runner:

• De Lima rose to fame after winning bronze in marathon at the 2004 Athens Games despite being attacked by a spectator during the race, which he was leading late. The incident shaved 15–20 seconds off his time, but he came in at 2:12:11 and placed. Brazil appealed the result, which was unsuccessful, but he was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal for the spirit of sportsmanship by the IOC.

• De Lima never competed in the Olympics again and turned down many sponsorships, but he was Brazil’s flag bearer at the 2007 Pan American Games and lit the cauldron.

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• Nearly a year later, Brazilian beach volleyball player and gold medalist Emanuel Rego — who won gold in Athens — attempted to give his medal to de Lima on television. De Lima declined.

• He won gold at the 1999 and 2003 Pan-American Games for marathon.

• Meb Keflezighi, who finished ahead of de Lima in Athens, told SI’s Chris Chavez this about de Lima’s selection as the cauldron lighter: “It is so fitting that my fellow 2004 Olympic marathon medalist Vanderlei de Lima is chosen for this honor. He embodies the spirits of Brazil and the Olympics.”

The Olympics will take place from Friday through Aug. 21.

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