Vanderlei Lima of Brazil, whose lead had been slowly shrinking, was pushed to the curb by a man dressed in green beret, red kilt and knee-high green
socks. Lima was able to get back into the race, but he lost several more seconds and eventually was overtaken by Baldini.
Lima, who took the bronze, drew big cheers from the crowd at the finish line in Panthinaiko Stadium - the beautiful marble structure that was the site
of the first modern Olympics 108 years ago. He smiled broadly, spread his arms like wings and weaved from side to side as he crossed the line.
Keflezighi, who emigrated from the war-torn African nation of Eritrea at age 10, is the first American to medal in the men's marathon since Frank
Shorter's silver in 1976. Deena Kastor won the bronze in the women's marathon a week ago, marking the first time the United States had medaled in both
of the sport's epic endurance competition.
Baldini, 33, finished in 2 hours, 10 minutes and 54 seconds. He waved his hands in celebration, then dropped to his knees in exhaustion after his
final lap on the narrow track inside the stadium. Baldini is the former European marathon champion and two-time world marathon silver medalist.
Keflezighi, the American record holder at 10,000 meters, showed little emotion, crossing himself and putting up a No. 1 sign with his finger to the
Lima pulled away from the pack a little over halfway through the competition, which - over difficult and often steep terrain - traced the ancient
route that gives the race its name.
Lima, a two-time Pan American champion who was 47th in the 1996 Olympic marathon, stretched the lead to as much as 46 seconds before Baldini,
Keflezighi and Kenyan Paul Tergat began to narrow the gap.
As the runners went through the streets of Athens, to the cheers of flag-waving onlookers, the intruder came from the runner's left and pushed him to
the side, all the way to the curb and into the crowd. Police quickly went after the intruder, one officer leaping from a bicycle, as Lima pushed
himself free and kept running.
The intruder had a piece of paper attached to his back bearing the message: "The Grand Prix Priest Israel Fulfillment of Prophecy Says the Bible."
Police identified him as Cornelius Horan, an Irish citizen. In July 2003, Horan, in a costume similar to Sunday's, ran onto the track at the British
Grand Prix in the middle of the race and stayed there for more than 20 seconds, forcing racers to swerve around him. He was carrying a sign that said,
"read the Bible - the Bible is always right."
Lima's lead had already been diminishing before the incident. Afterward, Baldini and then Keflezighi passed Lima not far from the stadium.
As the race began in the now-suburb of Marathon, the sun set over the Acropolis cast a rose-colored hue on the horseshoe-shaped stadium, which was
about three-quarters full.
The runners followed the steep, difficult course over which, legend says, Pheidippides carried the news in 490 B.C. that the Greeks had defeated the
Persians in the Battle of Marathon.
"Be joyful. We win!" Pheidippides shouted.
Then he dropped dead.