Athletics at the 1896 Summer Olympics – Men's 400 metres

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Men's 400 metres
at the Games of the I Olympiad
Thomas Burke 1918.jpg
Thomas Burke (1918)
VenuePanathinaiko Stadium
DatesApril 6 (semifinals)
April 7 (final)
Competitors7 from 4 nations
Winning time54.2 OR
Medalists
1st place, gold medalist(s) Thomas Burke
 United States
2nd place, silver medalist(s) Herbert Jamison
 United States
3rd place, bronze medalist(s) Charles Gmelin
 Great Britain
1900 →

The men's 400 metres race was the second-shortest of the flat-track events on the Athletics at the 1896 Summer Olympics programme. The competition's preliminary round was the last held on the first day, 6 April. The competitors were split into two groups. The top two runners in each heat advanced to the final, which was held on the second day, 7 April.

7 athletes from 4 nations competed. 5 of those athletes were also in the 100 metres.

Background[edit]

Thomas Burke of the United States and Edgar Bredin of Great Britain were the "two best one-lap runners in 1896"; Burke came to Athens, but Bredin did not (having become a professional earlier that year). Bredin was the co-holder of the unofficial world record at 48.5 seconds (440 yards). Burke had beaten Bredin in 1895.[1]

Competition format[edit]

The 400 metres consisted of two rounds: heats and a final. Each race was "slightly over one lap in length, with no lanes to separate the runners." Two heats were held, with 4 runners in one and 3 runners in the other. The top 2 runners in each heat advanced to the final.[1][2]

Records[edit]

World record  Edgar Bredin (GBR) 48.5(y)(u) London, United Kingdom 22 June 1895
Olympic record New event n/a n/a n/a

Jamison set the initial Olympic record of 56.8 seconds in the first heat; Burke beat it in the final at 54.2 seconds.

Schedule[edit]

The precise times of the events are not recorded. For the first round, the heats were the final event of the day on Monday; the "sun was setting" and "the air had become decidedly cold."[2] The final was held during the afternoon session on Tuesday, which began at 2:30 p.m.; the hurdles and high jumping competitions took place before the 400 metres final.[3]

Date Round
Gregorian Julian
Monday, 6 April 1896 Monday, 25 March 1896 Semifinals
Tuesday, 7 April 1896 Tuesday, 26 March 1896 Final

Results[edit]

Semifinals[edit]

The semifinals were held on 6 April. The top two placers in each of the two groups advanced.

Semifinal 1[edit]

Jamison won by 13½ yards. Hofmann and Grisel both had to run 401.83 metres after being penalized for false starts. The final positions of Grisel and Dörry are unclear.[1] Jamison set the initial Olympic record at 56.8 seconds, which would hold only until the next day.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Herbert Jamison  United States 56.8 Q, OR
2 Fritz Hofmann  Germany 58.6 Q
3–4 Kurt Doerry  Germany Unknown
Adolphe Grisel  France Unknown

Semifinal 2[edit]

Burke won by 15 yards, despite being tired from already having run in the heats of the 100 metres. Gmelin beat Reichel by 12 yards for second place.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Thomas Burke  United States 58.4 Q
2 Charles Gmelin  Great Britain 1:00.5 Q
3 Frantz Reichel  France 1:02.3

Final[edit]

Burke beat Jamison by eight yards, with Gmelin beating Hofmann by a foot for third.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1st place, gold medalist(s) Thomas Burke  United States 54.2 OR
2nd place, silver medalist(s) Herbert Jamison  United States 55.2
3rd place, bronze medalist(s) Charles Gmelin  Great Britain 56.7
4 Fritz Hofmann  Germany 56.7

Results summary[edit]

Rank Athlete Nation Semifinal Final Notes
1st place, gold medalist(s) Thomas Burke  United States 58.4 54.2 OR
2nd place, silver medalist(s) Herbert Jamison  United States 56.8 55.2
3rd place, bronze medalist(s) Charles Gmelin  Great Britain 1:00.5 56.7
4 Fritz Hofmann  Germany 58.6 56.7
5 Frantz Reichel  France 1:02.3 Did not advance
6 Kurt Doerry  Germany Unknown 3rd–4th in semifinal
Adolphe Grisel  France Unknown 3rd–4th in semifinal

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "400 metres, Men". Olympedia. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b Official Report, p. 65.
  3. ^ Official Report, pp. 68–69.