Athletics at the 1908 Summer Olympics – Men's 800 metres

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Men's 800 metres
at the Games of the IV Olympiad
Venue White City Stadium
Dates July 20 (semifinals)
July 21 (final)
Competitors 38 from 11 nations
1st, gold medalist(s) Mel Sheppard  United States
2nd, silver medalist(s) Emilio Lunghi  Italy
3rd, bronze medalist(s) Hanns Braun  Germany
← 1904
1912 →

The men's 800 metres made its fourth Olympic appearance at the 1908 Summer Olympics. The competition was held on July 20, 1908 and on July 21, 1908. The races were held on a track of 536.45 metres=​13 mile in circumference. It was run in two rounds, with the winners of the eight heats of the first round competing in the final.

38 runners from eleven nations competed.


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

World Record 1:53.4(*) United States Charles Kilpatrick New York (USA) September 21, 1895
Olympic Record 1:56.0(**) United States James Lightbody St. Louis (USA) September 1, 1904

(*) unofficial 880 yards (= 804.68 m)

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

In the final Mel Sheppard set a new Olympic and a new unofficial world record, his time of 1:52.8 being 3.2 seconds faster than the pace set by fellow American runner James Lightbody four years earlier.



The semifinals were held on July 20, 1908. The winner of each heat advanced to the final the next day, with all other runners eliminated.

Semifinal 1

Ashford went out fast, but tired quickly. The race was a tight match between Bodor, Butterfield, and Björn, each of whom led at times. Lightbody, the defending champion, was always close behind.

Place Athlete Time Qual.
1  Ödön Bodor (HUN) 1:58.6 Q
2  George Butterfield (GBR) 1:58.9
3  Evert Björn (SWE) Unknown
4  James Lightbody (USA) Unknown
 Frederick Ashford (GBR) Did not finish
 Henk van der Wal (NED) Did not finish

Semifinal 2

The second heat was less eventful than the preceding one, with Sheppard leading most of the way; Lintott closed quickly but was four yards behind at the finish.

Place Athlete Time Qual.
1  Mel Sheppard (USA) 1:58.0 Q
2  James Lintott (GBR) 1:58.8
3  R. Irving Parkes (CAN) Unknown

Semifinal 3

Halstead took the lead after 500 metres and held on to beat Lee by two yards.

Place Athlete Time Qual.
1  John Halstead (USA) 2:01.4 Q
2  John W. Lee (GBR) 2:01.7
3  George Morphy (GBR) Unknown
4  József Nagy (HUN) Unknown

Semifinal 4

Lunghi broke away from the pack near the end of the first lap, leading the rest of the way.

Place Athlete Time Qual.
1  Emilio Lunghi (ITA) 1:57.2 Q
2  Harry Coe (USA) 1:58.0
3  Lloyd Jones (USA) Unknown
 Stefanos Dimitrios (GRE) Did not finish
 L. J. Manogue (GBR) Did not finish

Semifinal 5

The fifth heat was the closest of the first round, despite Beard leading the entire way. Buddo and Astley both made tremendous efforts to catch up in the second lap. Astley caught and passed Buddo, but was unable to do the same with Beard, who won by a foot.

Place Athlete Time Qual.
1  Clarke Beard (USA) 1:59.8 Q
2  Arthur Astley (GBR) 1:59.9
3  Donald Buddo (CAN) Unknown
4  Oskar Quarg (GER) 2:10.0
 Edward Dahl (SWE) Did not finish
 Charles M. French (USA) Did not finish

Semifinal 6

Just won by fifty yards.

Place Athlete Time Qual.
1  Theodore Just (GBR) 1:57.8 Q
2  Andreas Breynck (GER) 2:06.0
 Frank Danielson (SWE) Did not finish
 Arie Vosbergen (NED) Did not finish

Semifinal 7

Bromilow led for most of the race, but Braun used the last turn to move from third to first.

Place Athlete Time Qual.
1  Hanns Braun (GER) 1:58.0 Q
2  Joseph Bromilow (USA) 1:58.3
3  Harold Holding (GBR) 1:58.5
 Bram Evers (NED) Did not finish
 Horace Ramey (USA) Did not finish
 Fredrik Svanström (FIN) Did not finish

Semifinal 8

While not having quite the dominant lead that his countryman Just had in the sixth heat, Crawford won by fifteen yards.

Place Athlete Time Qual.
1  Ivo Fairbairn-Crawford (GBR) 1:57.8 Q
2  Kristian Hellström (SWE) 2:00.0
3  Harvey Sutton (ANZ) 2:00.0
4  Francis Sheehan (USA) Unknown


The final was held on July 21, 1908. Crawford started out fast, leading by fifteen yards halfway through the first lap, but at the end of the lap, he collapsed on the track from exhaustion. Sheppard then took the lead, with Lunghi and Just immediately behind. The time at the 400 metres mark was only 53 seconds. Just could not keep up the pace, fading back to fifth place. Lunghi's efforts were not enough for him to stay with Sheppard the entire way, and Sheppard won by 11 yards; the first four finishers broke James Lightbody's Olympic record of four years earlier.

Place Athlete Time
1  Mel Sheppard (USA) 1:52.8 WR
2  Emilio Lunghi (ITA) 1:54.2
3  Hanns Braun (GER) 1:55.2
4  Ödön Bodor (HUN) 1:55.4
5  Theodore Just (GBR) 1:56.4
6  John Halstead (USA) Unknown
 Clarke Beard (USA) Did not finish
 Ivo Fairbairn-Crawford (GBR) Did not finish


  • 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 25 July 2006. 
  • Wudarski, Pawel (1999). "Wyniki Igrzysk Olimpijskich" (in Polish). Archived from the original on 14 June 2006. Retrieved 25 July 2006.