Athletics at the 1896 Summer Olympics – Men's 100 metres

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Men's 100 metres
at the Games of the I Olympiad
100m sprint 1896 Olympics.jpg
100 metres final
Venue Panathinaiko Stadium
Dates 6 April (first round)
10 April (final)
Competitors 15 from 8 nations
1st, gold medalist(s) Thomas Burke
 United States
2nd, silver medalist(s) Fritz Hofmann
3rd, bronze medalist(s) Alajos Szokolyi
3rd, bronze medalist(s) Francis Lane
 United States
1900 →

The men's 100 metres race was the first event run at the modern Olympics, on 6 April 1896. It was the shortest race on the Athletics at the 1896 Summer Olympics programme. 21 athletes were entered in the first round, divided into three heats of seven runners, but six of them later withdrew. The top two athletes in each heat advanced to the final, which took place on 10 April.

15 athletes from 8 nations competed.


This was the standing world record (in seconds) prior to the 1896 Summer Olympics.

World Record 10.8[a] United States Luther Cary Paris (FRA) July 4, 1891
United Kingdom Cecil Lee Brussels (BEL) September 25, 1892
Belgium Étienne De Re Brussels (BEL) August 4, 1893
United Kingdom L. Atcherley Frankfurt/Main (GER) April 13, 1895
United Kingdom Harry Beaton Rotterdam (NED) August 28, 1895
  1. ^ unofficial

In the first heat, Francis Lane set the initial Olympic Record of 12.2, which was swiftly tied by Thomas Curtis. Thomas Burke then set 11.8 which would stand as the Olympic Record until the 1900 Olympics.



The first round of heats took place on 6 April. The first heat of the 100 metres was the first competition held in the Games. Francis Lane won the first heat, thus becoming the first winner of a modern Olympic race. All heats were won by athletes from the United States.

Heat 1[edit]

Rank Name Nation Time Notes
1 Francis Lane  United States 12.2 Q
2 Alajos Szokolyi  Hungary 12.8 Q
3 Charles Gmelin  Great Britain 12.9
4 Alphonse Grisel  France Unknown
5 Kurt Doerry  Germany Unknown

Heat 2[edit]

Rank Name Nation Time Notes
1 Thomas Curtis  United States 12.2 Q
2 Alexandros Chalkokondylis  Greece 12.8 Q
3 Launceston Elliot  Great Britain 12.9
4 Eugen Schmidt  Denmark Unknown
5 George Marshall  Great Britain Unknown

Heat 3[edit]

Both Burke and Hofmann were more well known for middle-distance events rather than sprinting. Burke's time of 11.8s became the inaugural Olympic record. It is not clear which athlete received which place between the fourth and fifth finishers.

Rank Name Nation Time Notes
1 Thomas Burke  United States 11.8 Q
2 Fritz Hofmann  Germany 12.6 Q
3 Friedrich Traun  Germany 13.5
4–5 Georgios Gennimatas  Greece Unknown
4–5 Henrik Sjöberg  Sweden Unknown


The final of the 100 metre race, run on 10 April, involved the six runners who had finished in the top two of their preliminary heats. Thomas Curtis withdrew to save himself for the 110 metre hurdles, which was the next race on the program and which he won. Burke beat his companion from the third heat, Hofmann, by two meters. Lane and Szokolyi dead-heated for third place, with Chalkokondylis six inches behind them. Lane and Szokolyi are both considered to be bronze medallists by the International Olympic Committee.

Rank Name Nation Time
1st, gold medalist(s) Thomas Burke  United States 12.0
2nd, silver medalist(s) Fritz Hofmann  Germany 12.2
3rd, bronze medalist(s) Francis Lane  United States 12.6
3rd, bronze medalist(s) Alajos Szokolyi  Hungary 12.6
5 Alexandros Chalkokondylis  Greece 12.6
Thomas Curtis  United States DNS


  • Lampros, S.P.; Polites, N.G.; De Coubertin, Pierre; Philemon, P.J. & Anninos, C. (1897). The Olympic Games: BC 776 – AD 1896. Athens: Charles Beck.  (Digitally available at
  • Mallon, Bill & Widlund, Ture (1998). The 1896 Olympic Games. Results for All Competitors in All Events, with Commentary. Jefferson: McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0379-9.  (Excerpt available at
  • Smith, Michael Llewellyn (2004). Olympics in Athens 1896. The Invention of the Modern Olympic Games. London: Profile Books. ISBN 1-86197-342-X. 
  • Wallechinsky, David (1984). The Complete Book of the Olympics. Crawfordsville, Indiana: R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company. ISBN 0-14-006632-2.