Douglas Lowe (athlete)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other people of the same name, see Doug Lowe (disambiguation).
Olympic medal record
Men's athletics
Competitor for  United Kingdom
Gold 1924 Paris 800 metres
Gold 1928 Amsterdam 800 metres
Douglas Lowe, 1928

Douglas Gordon Arthur Lowe (7 August 1902 – 30 March 1981) was a British double Olympic Games champion, winning gold medals in 1924 and 1928. On both occasions he set British 800-metres records of 1:52.4 and 1:51.8 respectively.

Born in Manchester, Douglas Lowe attended Harrow and Highgate School and excelled immediately as a middle distance runner, winning the Public Schools' 880 yd (805 m) title in 1920. Later, at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he studied law, he played football and won the 880 yd (805 m) against Oxford in 1922 and 1923, and both the mile (1609 m) and the quarter-mile (402 m) race against them in 1924.

In the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, Lowe won the 800 metres gold medal in a new European record time of 1:52.4. He beat the fellow Cambridge runner Henry Stallard, who had been considered the pre-race favourite. Stallard suffered a leg injury and could only finish fourth. Lowe also came fourth in the 1,500 metres in a time of 3:57.0.

Lowe was defeated in a famous 880 yards race with Germany's Dr. Otto Peltzer at the 1926 AAA Championships. Peltzer won by three yards in a time of 1:51.6 with Lowe (untimed but estimated at 1:52.0) also inside the world record of 1:52.2.

Lowe was a British champion in 440 yd (402 m) and 880 yd (805 m) in 1927 and 1928. In Amsterdam at the Olympic Games Lowe won the 800 metres in a personal best performance of 1:51.8, a full second and eight yards ahead of a world class field. He also anchored the British 4x400 metres relay team that finished 5th.

Lowe set a world record of 1:10.6 for 600 yards in 1926, a distance then recognized by the IAAF for record purposes. His other personal bests included: 440 yards – 48.8 (1927); 800 metres - 1:51.2 (1928); 1,500 metres - 3:57.0 (1924); 1 mile - 4:21.0 (1925).

Lowe retired from athletics at the end of the 1928 season and took up law at the Inner Temple in London. He became Secretary of the Amateur Athletics Association from 1931 to 1938. He was made a judge in 1964 after a distinguished legal career, and was made Recorder at the Crown Court.

Prior to the making of the film Chariots of Fire, Lowe's support was sought, but declined. In consequence, the fictional character of Lindsay was created in his stead.[1]

Douglas Lowe died in Cranbrook, Kent.


  • Quercentani, Roberto & Kok, Nejat (1992): Wizards of the Middle Distances: A history of the 800 metres
  • Watman, Mel (1981): Encyclopedia of Track and Field Athletics
  • Peter Matthews & Ian Buchanan (1995): All-Time Greats of British & Irish Sport
  • Wallechinsky, David (2000): The Complete Book of the Olympics


  1. ^ Chapman, James. "The British Are Coming: Chariots of Fire (1981)". In: Past and Present: National Identity and the British Historical Film. London: I.B. Tauris & Co, 2005. pp. 275, 295.