Abel Kiviat

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Abel Kiviat
Abel Kiviat 1910 Mecca card front.jpg
Medal record
Men’s athletics
Competitor for the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold 1912 Stockholm 3000 m team race
Silver 1912 Stockholm 1500 metres

Abel Richard Kiviat (June 23, 1892 – August 24, 1991) was an American middle distance runner.


He was born in Manhattan, New York City, in 1892, to Morris (Milton or Moshe) Kiviat and Zelda Kiviat. Raised on Staten Island and died of prostate cancer at his home in Lakehurst, New Jersey.[1] Before his death at age 99 in 1991, he was the oldest American Olympic medalist.[1] He competed for and coached the Irish American Athletic Club, and was later a member of the New York Athletic Club.

According to his 1910 trading card; "He attracted attention as a runner when attending Curtis high school and became so fast that he linked his fortunes to the Irish American Athletic Club in New York and went into training in 1908. The following month at Travers Island, he won the Junior Championship for one mile for the Metropolitan District, making the fast time of 4:24. In the same year he won the Baxter Cup in the Columbia University races at Madison Square Garden, making the fast time of 4:23 2–5. He broke the world's record in the 2,400 yard relay race, his time for his 600 yards being 1:16, and 5:4 for the entire distance. He also won the Canadian mile championship in 1909 and again in 1910."[2]

He set a 1500 m world record of 3:55.8 min in Cambridge, Massachusetts in June 1912. In 1912, he set the world record for 1500 meters three times in 15 days; during the third effort, Harvard stadium was sold out with 15,000 in attendance - referenced in "The Milers" by Cordner Nelson.[3] He competed for the U.S. Olympic Team, as a member of the Irish American Athletic Club, and won a silver medal in the 1500 m at the Olympic Games in Stockholm 1912 (the gold was won by Arnold Jackson). For the first time, the Olympics used a photo finish to determine who won the medal.[4][5] He also competed for the US team in the exhibition baseball tournament in Stockholm. During the trip to Sweden in 1912 he was cabin mates with Jim Thorpe, a much renowned Native American athlete.[6]

In 1984, Kiviat, who was Jewish,[7] was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame,[8] and in 1985, he was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame. The Abel R. Kiviat Memorial race is held annually at his alma mater, Curtis High School, in Staten Island, New York. At the time of his death, he was the older living Olympic Medalist.[9]

A biography, Abel Kiviat: National Champion written by Alan S. Katchen, was published in 2009 (Syracuse University Press).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Litsky, Frank. "Abel Kiviat, Runner, Dies at 99; Held World 1,500-Meter Record", The New York Times, August 26, 1991. Accessed February 12, 2011. "Abel Kiviat, a former world-recordholder in the 1,500-meter run who won a silver medal in the 1912 Olympics, died Saturday afternoon at his home in Lakehurst, N.J. He was 99 years old."
  2. ^ "1910 Mecca Cigarettes Champion Athlete Series trading card". Wingedfist.com. August 24, 1991. Retrieved February 13, 2011. 
  3. ^ http://www.amazon.com/The-Milers-Cordner-Nelson/dp/0911521151
  4. ^ http://sports.yahoo.com/news/olympics--allyson-felix-jeneba-tarmoh-tie-in-100-meters-to-be-broken-by-run-off-or-coin-flip.html
  5. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/sports/olympics/2012-olympics-allyson-felix-and-jeneba-tarmoh-100-meter.html?_r=0
  6. ^ Katchen, Alan (2009). Abel Kiviat, National Champion: Twentieth-Century Track & Field and the Melting Pot. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-0939-1. 
  7. ^ Abel Kiviat, national champion ... – Google Books. Books.google.com. June 10, 1984. Retrieved February 13, 2011. 
  8. ^ The International Jewish Sports Hall ... – Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved February 13, 2011. 
  9. ^ http://www.blogtalkradio.com/runfanradio/2013/12/23/jeff-benjamin


  • Greenberg, Stan (1987). Olympic Games: The Records. London: Guinness Books. ISBN 0-85112-896-3. 
  • Katchen, Alan (2009). Abel Kiviat, National Champion: Twentieth-Century Track & Field and the Melting Pot. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-0939-1. 
  • Kieran, John (1977). The Story of the Olympic Games; 776 B.C. to 1976. Philadelphia and New York: J.B. Lippincott Company. ISBN 0-397-01168-7. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Men's 1500 m World Record Holder
June 1, 1912 – August 5, 1917
Succeeded by
Sweden John Zander