Athletics at the 1908 Summer Olympics – Men's 1500 metres

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Men's 1500 metres
at the Games of the IV Olympiad
Venue White City Stadium
Dates July 13 (semifinals)
July 14 (final)
Competitors 44 from 15 nations
1st, gold medalist(s) Mel Sheppard  United States
2nd, silver medalist(s) Harold Wilson  Great Britain
3rd, bronze medalist(s) Norman Hallows  Great Britain
← 1904
1912 →

The men's 1500 metres was an Olympic event for the fourth time at the 1908 Summer Olympics. The competition was held on July 13, 1908 and on July 14, 1908.[1] The races were held on a track of 536.45 metres=13 mile in circumference. There were eight heats of the first round, with the winners of those heats competing in the final.

44 runners from 15 nations competed.


These were the standing world and Olympic records (in minutes) prior to the 1908 Summer Olympics.

World Record 3:59.8(*) United Kingdom Harold Wilson London (GBR) May 30, 1908
Olympic Record 4:05.4(**) United States James Lightbody St. Louis (USA) September 3, 1904

(*) unofficial

(**) This track was 536.45 metres=13 mile in circumference.

In the second semifinal Mel Sheppard set a new Olympic record with 4:05.0 minutes only to be improved in the next run by Norman Hallows who ran 4:03.4 minutes. In the final Mel Sheppard equalized this time when he also ran 4:03.4 minutes.



The semifinals of the 1500 metres were the first competitions of the athletics programme held, on Monday, July 13, 1908. The fastest runner in each semifinal heat advanced to the final the next day while all other runners were eliminated.

Semifinal 1

Meadows, de Fleurac, Smith, and Lightbody all had the lead during the race. Sullivan won by six yards.

Place Athlete Time Qual.
1  James Sullivan (USA) 4:07.6 Q
2  James Lightbody (USA) 4:08.6
3  Frederick Meadows (CAN) 4:12.2
4  Francis Knott (GBR) Unknown
5  Joseph M. Smith (GBR) Unknown
6  Louis de Fleurac (FRA) Unknown
7  Nils Dahl (NOR) Unknown
8  Ödön Bodor (HUN) Unknown
9  Jacques Keyser (NED) Unknown

Semifinal 2

Butterfield and Lee were ahead of Sheppard and Halstead at the bell, but the American pair proved the better runners on the straight and passed the English duo. Sheppard's time set a new Olympic record, with Halstead just behind him clocking in at the old record time.

Place Athlete Time Qual.
1  Mel Sheppard (USA) 4:05.0 OR Q
2  John Halstead (USA) 4:05.6
3  George Butterfield (GBR) 4:11.8
4  John W. Lee (GBR) (4:12.4)
5  Joseph Lynch (ANZ) Unknown
6  Kjeld Nielsen (DEN) Unknown
7  Arno Hesse (GER) Unknown

Semifinal 3

Lunghi was passed by Hallows on the last lap, who won by two yards. Both Hallows and Lunghi beat the Olympic record set by Sheppard in the previous heat; the pace caused the remaining four competitors to drop out.

Place Athlete Time Qual.
1  Norman Hallows (GBR) 4:03.4 OR Q
2  Emilio Lunghi (ITA) 4:03.8
 Evert Björn (SWE) Did not finish
 Massimo Cartasegna (ITA) Did not finish
 Frank Riley (USA) Did not finish
 Charles Swain (ANZ) Did not finish

Semifinal 4

McGough led for the greater part of the race, with Loney and Coe passing him late and battling to the finish. Loney won by two yards.

Place Athlete Time Qual.
1  Vincent Loney (GBR) 4:08.4 Q
2  Harry Coe (USA) 4:09.2
3  John McGough (GBR) 4:16.4
4  Stefanos Dimitrios (GRE) Unknown
5  Joseph Dreher (FRA) Unknown

Semifinal 5

Raugeneau dropped out on the second lap. Tait won by fifty yards.

Place Athlete Time Qual.
1  John Tait (CAN) 4:12.2 Q
2  József Nagy (HUN) 4:19.6
3  Fredrik Svanström (FIN) 4:25.2
 Gaston Ragueneau (FRA) Did not finish

Semifinal 6

Deakin won by seventy-five yards.

Place Athlete Time Qual.
1  Joe Deakin (GBR) 4:13.6 Q
2  Andreas Breynck (GER) 4:30.0
3  Arie Vosbergen (NED) 4:38.6

Semifinal 7

Galbraith led most of the race, but was passed by Wilson, who won by 30 yards.

Place Athlete Time Qual.
1  Harold Wilson (GBR) 4:11.4 Q
2  Jean Bouin (FRA) 4:17.0
3  William Galbraith (CAN) 4:20.2

Semifinal 8

Braun, Dahl, and Crawford were the clear frontrunners for the entire race. Crawford pulled in front late, and won by four yards.

Place Athlete Time Qual.
1  Ivo Fairbairn-Crawford (GBR) 4:09.2 Q
2  Edward Dahl (SWE) 4:10.4
3  Hanns Braun (GER) 4:18.2
4  Oscar Larsen (NOR) Unknown
5  François Delloye (BEL) Unknown
6  Axel Andersson (SWE) Unknown
7  John E. Fitzgerald (CAN) Unknown


The final was held on Tuesday, July 14, 1908.

The start of the final.

Crawford went out fast, leading for the first 500 metres before tiring badly. Wilson, Hallows, and Sheppard led out going into the final straight, but Sheppard's late burst powered him to the front. He won by about 2 yards and equalled the Olympic record that Hallows had set in the first round.

Mel Sheppard winning the final.
Place Athlete Time
1  Mel Sheppard (USA) 4:03.4 EOR
2  Harold Wilson (GBR) 4:03.6
3  Norman Hallows (GBR) 4:04.0
4  John Tait (CAN) 4:06.8
5  Ivo Fairbairn-Crawford (GBR) 4:07.6
6  Joe Deakin (GBR) 4:07.9
 Vincent Loney (GBR) Did not finish
 James Sullivan (USA) Did not finish


  1. ^ "Athletics at the 1908 London Games: Men's 1500 metres". Retrieved 23 October 2017. 


  • Cook, Theodore Andrea (1908). The Fourth Olympiad, Being the Official Report. London: British Olympic Association. 
  • De Wael, Herman (2001). "Athletics 1908". Herman's Full Olympians. Retrieved 30 July 2006. 
  • Wudarski, Pawel (1999). "Wyniki Igrzysk Olimpijskich" (in Polish). Retrieved 30 July 2006.