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
Venue Panathinaiko Stadium
Dates April 6 (heats)
April 7 (final)
Competitors 7 from 4 nations
1st, gold medalist(s) Thomas Burke
 United States
2nd, silver medalist(s) Herbert Jamison
 United States
3rd, bronze medalist(s) Charles Gmelin
 Great Britain
1900 →
Athletics at the
1896 Summer Olympics
Olympic Athletics.png
Track events
100 m   men
400 m men
800 m men
1500 m men
110 m hurdles men
Road events
Marathon men
Field events
Long jump men
Triple jump men
High jump men
Pole vault men
Shot put men
Discus throw men

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.



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

Heat 1[edit]

Place Athlete Time
1  Herbert Jamison (USA) 56.8 s
2  Fritz Hofmann (GER) 58.6 s
3-4  Kurt Doerry (GER) Unknown
 Alphonse Grisel (FRA) Unknown

Jamison won by 13½ yards. Hofmann and Grisel both had to run 401.83 metres after being penalized for false starts.

NOTE: The final positions of Grisel and Dörry are unclear.

Heat 2[edit]

Place Athlete Time
1  Thomas Burke (USA) 58.4 s
2  Charles Gmelin (GBR) (1:00.5)
3  Frantz Reichel (FRA) (1:02.3)

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.


Place Athlete Time
1  Thomas Burke (USA) 54.2 s
2  Herbert Jamison (USA) 55.2 s
3  Charles Gmelin (GBR) (56.7)
4  Fritz Hofmann (GER) (56.7)

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


  • 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.