Athletics at the 1972 Summer Olympics – Men's 800 metres

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Men's 800 metres
at the Games of the XX Olympiad
Venue Olympic Stadium
Dates September 2
Gold medal    United States
Silver medal    Soviet Union
Bronze medal    Kenya
«1968 1976»
Athletics at the
1972 Summer Olympics
Athletics pictogram.svg
Track events
100 m   men   women
200 m men women
400 m men women
800 m men women
1500 m men women
5000 m men
10,000 m men
100 m hurdles women
110 m hurdles men
400 m hurdles men
3000 m
4×100 m relay men women
4×400 m relay men women
Road events
Marathon men
20 km walk men
50 km walk men
Field events
Long jump men women
Triple jump men
High jump men women
Pole vault men
Shot put men women
Discus throw men women
Javelin throw men women
Hammer throw men
Combined events
Pentathlon women
Decathlon men

The men's 800 metres at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany took place on September 2, 1972.


The race went out very quickly for the first 200 m, with the two Kenyans, Boit and Ouko, pushing the pace. Wottle lagged far behind the rest of the field for the first 300 m, only catching up to the pack around the end of the first lap; the leaders went through the first 400 m in 52.3 seconds. Yevgeniy Arzhanov, the pre-race favorite, made a strong move on the final backstretch, and with only 18 m remaining seemed to have clinched the victory; Wottle's final burst of speed, however, brought him across the line nine inches (23 cm) ahead of Arzhanov, who stumbled and fell in the final step of the race.

Few had expected Wottle, who had suffered tendinitis in his knees earlier that summer, to defeat Arzhanov, as the Soviet had not lost an 800 m final in four years, and the American win over their Cold War rivals added extra drama to an already exciting race; Wottle himself was so surprised at winning the race that he forgot to remove his golf cap when the U.S. national anthem was played at the medal ceremony. When reporters later asked him if his failure to remove the cap, a good luck charm which he always wore while racing, was a protest against the Vietnam War, Wottle replied that he had merely forgotten and formally apologized to the American people.[1]



Rank Athlete Time
Med 1.png  David Wottle (USA) 1:45.86
Med 2.png  Yevgeniy Arzhanov (URS) 1:45.89
Med 3.png  Mike Boit (KEN) 1:46.01
4.  Franz-Josef Kemper (FRG) 1:46.50
5.  Robert Ouko (KEN) 1:46.53
6.  Andy Carter (GBR) 1:46.55
7.  Andrzej Kupczyk (POL) 1:47.10
8.  Dieter Fromm (GDR) 1:47.96

See also[edit]