Athletics at the 1908 Summer Olympics – Men's 400 metres
|Men's 400 metres
at the Games of the IV Olympiad
|Venue||White City Stadium|
|Dates||July 21 (quarterfinals)
July 22 (semifinals)
July 23 (final)
|Competitors||37 from 10 nations|
|Athletics at the
1908 Summer Olympics
|110 m hurdles||men|
|400 m hurdles||men|
|3200 m steeplechase||men|
|3 mile team race||men|
|3500 m walk||men|
|10 mile walk||men|
|Standing long jump||men|
|Standing high jump||men|
The men's 400 metres was an Olympic event for the fourth time at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London. The competition was held originally scheduled from July 21, 1908 to July 23, 1908. The rerun of the final was held on July 25, 1908. The races were held on a track of 536.45 metres=1⁄3 mile in circumference.
37 runners from ten nations competed.
It was the most controversial event of the London Games. The final resulted in the disqualification of American runner John Carpenter, who had blocked British athlete Wyndham Halswelle in a manoeuvre that was legal under American rules but prohibited by the British rules under which the race was run.
As part of the disqualification of Carpenter, a second final race was ordered. Halswelle was to face the other two finalists again. These men, William Robbins and John Taylor, were both Americans and decided not to contest the repeat of the final to protest against the judges' decision. Halswelle was thus the only medallist in the 400 metres.
These were the standing world and Olympic records (in seconds) prior to the 1908 Summer Olympics.
|World Record||47.8(*)||Maxie Long||New York (USA)||September 29, 1900|
|Olympic Record||49.2(**)||Harry Hillman||St. Louis (USA)||August 29, 1904|
(*) 440 yards (= 402.34 m)
(**) This track was 536.45 metres=1⁄3 mile in circumference.
In the semi-finals Wyndham Halswelle set a new Olympic record with 48.4 seconds.
The heats were run on July 21, 1908. The winner of each advanced to the semifinals, with all other runners eliminated.
Montague led by twelve yards when he finished.
|1||Edwin Montague (GBR)||50.2 seconds||Q|
|2||Paul Pilgrim (USA)||51.4 seconds|
The second heat was cancelled as there were no starters.
Ryle had no competition in the third heat.
|1||Edward Ryle (GBR)||walkover||Q|
Taylor won handily, with a twelve-yard margin.
|1||John Taylor (USA)||50.8 seconds||Q|
|2||Roberto Penna (ITA)||52.4 seconds|
|3||Sven Låftman (SWE)||Unknown|
Nicol won with a twelve-yard lead.
|1||George Nicol (GBR)||50.8 seconds||Q|
|2||Oscar Guttormsen (NOR)||52.4 seconds|
Eight yards separated the two runners when Malfait crossed the line.
|1||Georges Malfait (FRA)||50.0 seconds||Q|
|2||Donald Buddo (CAN)||51.2 seconds|
Robbins had no difficulty in this race, winning with a 12-yard lead.
|1||William Robbins (USA)||50.4 seconds||Q|
|2||József Nagy (HUN)||51.1 seconds|
|3||Noel Godfrey Chavasse (GBR)||Unknown|
|4||Victor Henny (NED)||Unknown|
Prout's lead was only two yards when he finished.
|1||William C. Prout (USA)||50.4 seconds||Q|
|2||Christopher Maude Chavasse (GBR)||50.7 seconds|
Ramey's victory was one of the closest of the first round, with only a yard and a half separating him from Astley.
|1||Horace Ramey (USA)||51.0 seconds||Q|
|2||Arthur Astley (GBR)||Unknown|
Jacquemin pulled up lame, allowing Sebert to win by 20 yards.
|1||Louis Sebert (CAN)||50.2 seconds||Q|
|2||Massimo Cartasegna (ITA)||52.7 seconds|
|—||Victor Jacquemin (BEL)||Did not finish|
|1||John Atlee (USA)||50.4 seconds||Q|
|2||Alan Patterson (GBR)||50.6 seconds|
|3||Giuseppe Tarella (ITA)||Unknown|
|1||Charles Davies (GBR)||50.4 seconds||Q|
|2||Cornelis den Held (NED)||51.0 seconds|
|1||Ned Merriam (USA)||52.2 seconds||Q|
|2||R. C. Robb (GBR)||52.5 seconds|
|1||John Carpenter (USA)||49.8 seconds||Q|
|2||Otto Trieloff (GER)||50.9 seconds|
|3||Arvid Ringstrand (SWE)||Unknown|
|4||Henk van der Wal (NED)||Unknown|
|1||Wyndham Halswelle (GBR)||49.4 seconds||Q|
|2||Frederick de Selding (USA)||50.8 seconds|
|3||Bram Evers (NED)||Unknown|
Young won by 30 yards.
|1||G. W. Young (GBR)||52.4 seconds||Q|
|2||Jacobus Hoogveld (NED)||(54.3 seconds)|
The semifinals were held on July 22, 1908. Winners advanced, all others were eliminated.
|1||John Carpenter (USA)||49.4 seconds||Q|
|2||Charles Davies (GBR)||49.8 seconds|
|3||Ned Merriam (USA)||Unknown|
|4||G. W. Young (GBR)||Unknown|
Halswelle broke the Olympic record in the semifinal.
|1||Wyndham Halswelle (GBR)||48.4 seconds OR||Q|
|2||Edwin Montague (GBR)||49.8 seconds|
|3||George Nicol (GBR)||Unknown|
|4||William C. Prout (USA)||Unknown|
|1||John Taylor (USA)||49.8 seconds||Q|
|2||Horace Ramey (USA)||50.5 seconds|
|3||Edward Ryle (GBR)||Unknown|
|4||Georges Malfait (FRA)||Unknown|
|1||William Robbins (USA)||49.0 seconds||Q|
|2||Louis Sebert (CAN)||49.5 seconds|
|3||John Atlee (USA)||Unknown|
The final was initially held on July 23, 1908. After the disqualification of Carpenter, the second running of the final was scheduled for July 25.
The first final ended with Carpenter finishing first, Halswelle following him, Robbins in third, and Taylor at the back. Roscoe Badger, one of the British umpires of the event, noticed Carpenter maneuvering so as to prevent Halswelle from passing him, which was legal at the time under the American rules under which Carpenter normally competed, but prohibited by the British rules that were in effect for the Olympics; Badger therefore signalled to the judges to declare the race void, leading to a thirty-minute argument between British and American officials. At the official inquiry later that day, the judges disqualified Carpenter and ordered the final to be rerun with Carpenter excluded.
|1||John Carpenter (USA)||47.8 seconds|
|2||Wyndham Halswelle (GBR)||Unknown|
|3||William Robbins (USA)||Unknown|
|4||John Taylor (USA)||Unknown|
Carpenter was not permitted to start in the rerun, and Robbins and Taylor refused to participate in protest of the decision by the judges. Halswelle won with a jog, for the one and only walkover win in Olympic track and field history.
|1||Wyndham Halswelle (GBR)||50.0 seconds|
|—||William Robbins (USA)||Did not start|
|John Taylor (USA)||Did not start|
|John Carpenter (USA)||Disqualified|
- 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 24 July 2006.
- Wudarski, Pawel (1999). "Wyniki Igrzysk Olimpijskich" (in Polish). Archived from the original on 14 June 2006. Retrieved 24 July 2006.