Athletics at the 1908 Summer Olympics – Men's hammer throw

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Men's hammer throw
at the Games of the IV Olympiad
John Flanagan.jpg
The winner John Flanagan
VenueWhite City Stadium
DateJuly 14
Competitors19 from 8 nations
Winning distance51.92 OR
1st place, gold medalist(s) John Flanagan
 United States
2nd place, silver medalist(s) Matt McGrath
 United States
3rd place, bronze medalist(s) Con Walsh
← 1904
1912 →

The men's hammer throw was one of six throwing events on the Athletics at the 1908 Summer Olympics programme in London. The competition was held on July 14, 1908. 19 throwers from eight nations competed.[1] NOCs could enter up to 12 athletes.[2] The event was won by American John Flanagan, his third consecutive victory in the event. He was the first man to win three medals in the hammer throw and, as of the 2016 Games, the only one to win three gold medals in the event. The silver medal went to fellow American Matt McGrath. Con Walsh of Canada took bronze and became the first athlete not from the United States to win a medal in the event, as the Americans had swept the podium in both 1900 and 1904. The three medalists were all part of the Irish Whales.


This was the third appearance of the event, which has been held at every Summer Olympics except 1896. American John Flanagan was the two-time defending Olympic champion, was a seven-time AAU champion, and had also won national titles in Great Britain and Ireland; he was the favorite. Fellow American Matt McGrath was rising as a challenger, however, and had taken second place in the 1907 AAU championship. McGrath was struggling with a knee injury but still hoped to supplant the 40-year-old Flanagan as the premier hammer thrower of the day.[3]

Canada, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, and Switzerland each made their debut in the event. The United States appeared for the third time, the only nation to have competed at each appearance of the event to that point.

Competition format[edit]

The competition introduced a single, divided-final format. Each athlete received three throws, with the top three receiving an additional three throws. The hammer's total length could not be more than four feet. The weight of the hammer was 16 pounds. There were no other restrictions on the size or shape of the hammer. The throwing circle was seven feet in diameter. There were no restrictions on the throwing form.[4][5][3]


These were the standing world and Olympic records (in metres) prior to this competition.

World record  John Flanagan (USA) 53.38* Torrington, United States 20 June 1908
Olympic record  John Flanagan (USA) 51.23 St. Louis, United States 29 August 1904

* unofficial

John Flanagan set a new Olympic record with 51.92 metres.


Date Time Round
Tuesday, 14 July 1908 10:00 Qualifying


Rank Athlete Nation Distance Notes
1st place, gold medalist(s) John Flanagan  United States 51.92 OR
2nd place, silver medalist(s) Matt McGrath  United States 51.18
3rd place, bronze medalist(s) Con Walsh  Canada 48.51
4 Tom Nicolson  Great Britain 48.09
5 Lee Talbott  United States 47.86
6 Bill Horr  United States 46.94
7 Simon Gillis  United States 45.59
8 Eric Lemming  Sweden 43.06
9 Alan Fyffe  Great Britain 37.35
10–19 Harald Agger  Denmark Unknown
István Mudin  Hungary Unknown
Henry Leeke  Great Britain Unknown
Robert Lindsay-Watson  Great Britain Unknown
Ernest May  Great Britain Unknown
John Murray  Great Britain Unknown
Robert Olsson  Sweden Unknown
Benjamin Sherman  United States Unknown
Ludwig Uettwiller  Germany Unknown
Julius Wagner  Switzerland Unknown


  1. ^ "Athletics at the 1908 London Summer Games: Men's Hammer Throw". Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Official report, p. 32.
  3. ^ a b "Hammer Throw, Men". Olympedia. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  4. ^ Official Report, p. 89.
  5. ^ Official Report, p. 407.


  • Official Report of the Games of the IV Olympiad (1908).
  • De Wael, Herman. Herman's Full Olympians: "Athletics 1908". Accessed 7 April 2006. Available electronically at [1].