Athletics at the 1972 Summer Olympics

Dates 31 August – 10 September 1972
Medal Events 38

The 1972 Olympics were awarded to the Bavarian city of München, which planned a great festival to offset the image that beset the 1936 Berlin Olympics. For the first week at München, they were the friendly Olympics, and a beautiful site. Sadly, on 5 September, the Games were interrupted when Arab terrorists, members of the Black September group, invaded the Olympic Village and took the Israeli Olympic team hostage. Hours of negotiations were ongoing, but eventually 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were killed, either in their Village rooms, or in a shoot-out at Fürstenfeldbruck Airport, a military facility on the outskirts of München. The Games were delayed for one day but they continued, a decision still considered somewhat controversial by some.

Amidst that setting, it was difficult to focus on events on the track, but there were some superb performances. Both a man and woman won the 100/200 sprint double, but surprisingly, neither was American. Valery Borzov of the Soviet Union and Renate Stecher of the GDR won both sprint races. Borzov was aided slightly in the 100 when two American threats, Eddie Hart and Rey Robinson, missed their starting times in the quarter-finals and were eliminated. Finland’s Lasse Virén also won two gold medals, winning both the 5K and 10K, returning Finland to Olympic distance running glory. He won the 10,000 in world record time despite falling in mid-race.

Events

Event Status Date Participants NOCs
100 metres, Men Olympic 31 August – 1 September 1972 85 55
200 metres, Men Olympic 3 – 4 September 1972 57 42
400 metres, Men Olympic 3 – 7 September 1972 64 49
800 metres, Men Olympic 31 August – 2 September 1972 61 46
1,500 metres, Men Olympic 8 – 10 September 1972 66 46
5,000 metres, Men Olympic 7 – 10 September 1972 61 35
10,000 metres, Men Olympic 31 August – 3 September 1972 52 34
Marathon, Men Olympic 10 September 1972 74 39
110 metres Hurdles, Men Olympic 3 – 7 September 1972 39 27
400 metres Hurdles, Men Olympic 31 August – 2 September 1972 37 25
3,000 metres Steeplechase, Men Olympic 1 – 7 September 1972 49 29
4 x 100 metres Relay, Men Olympic 9 – 10 September 1972 112 27
4 x 400 metres Relay, Men Olympic 9 – 10 September 1972 85 21
20 kilometres Walk, Men Olympic 31 August 1972 24 12
50 kilometres Walk, Men Olympic 3 September 1972 36 18
High Jump, Men Olympic 9 – 10 September 1972 40 26
Pole Vault, Men Olympic 1 – 2 September 1972 21 12
Long Jump, Men Olympic 8 – 9 September 1972 36 25
Triple Jump, Men Olympic 3 – 4 September 1972 36 28
Shot Put, Men Olympic 8 – 9 September 1972 29 19
Discus Throw, Men Olympic 1 – 2 September 1972 29 18
Hammer Throw, Men Olympic 4 – 7 September 1972 31 17
Javelin Throw, Men Olympic 2 – 3 September 1972 23 15
Decathlon, Men Olympic 7 – 8 September 1972 33 19
100 metres, Women Olympic 1 – 2 September 1972 47 33
200 metres, Women Olympic 4 – 7 September 1972 37 27
400 metres, Women Olympic 2 – 7 September 1972 49 29
800 metres, Women Olympic 31 August – 3 September 1972 38 26
1,500 metres, Women Olympic 4 – 9 September 1972 36 21
100 metres Hurdles, Women Olympic 4 – 8 September 1972 25 15
4 x 100 metres Relay, Women Olympic 9 – 10 September 1972 61 15
4 x 400 metres Relay, Women Olympic 9 – 10 September 1972 56 14
High Jump, Women Olympic 3 – 4 September 1972 40 22
Long Jump, Women Olympic 31 August 1972 33 19
Shot Put, Women Olympic 4 – 7 September 1972 18 11
Discus Throw, Women Olympic 9 – 10 September 1972 17 10
Javelin Throw, Women Olympic 31 August – 1 September 1972 19 10
Pentathlon, Women Olympic 2 – 3 September 1972 30 20
1330 (961/369) 104 (102/57)

Medals

Event Gold Silver Bronze
100 metres, Men Valery BorzovURS Robert TaylorUSA Lennox MillerJAM
200 metres, Men Valery BorzovURS Larry BlackUSA Pietro MenneaITA
400 metres, Men Vince MatthewsUSA Wayne CollettUSA Julius SangKEN
800 metres, Men Dave WottleUSA Yevgeny ArzhanovURS Mike BoitKEN
1,500 metres, Men Pekka VasalaFIN Kip KeinoKEN Rod DixonNZL
5,000 metres, Men Lasse VirénFIN Mohamad GammoudiTUN Ian StewartGBR
10,000 metres, Men Lasse VirénFIN Miel PuttemansBEL Miruts YifterETH
Marathon, Men Frank ShorterUSA Karel LismontBEL Mamo WoldeETH
110 metres Hurdles, Men Rod MilburnUSA Guy DrutFRA Tom HillUSA
400 metres Hurdles, Men John Akii-BuaUGA Ralph MannUSA Dave HemeryGBR
3,000 metres Steeplechase, Men Kip KeinoKEN Ben JipchoKEN Tapio KantanenFIN
4 × 100 metres Relay, Men United StatesUSA Soviet UnionURS West GermanyFRG
4 × 400 metres Relay, Men KenyaKEN Great BritainGBR FranceFRA
20 kilometres Walk, Men Peter FrenkelGDR Vladimir GolubnichyURS Hans-Georg ReimannGDR
50 kilometres Walk, Men Bernd KannenbergFRG Veniamin SoldatenkoURS Larry YoungUSA
High Jump, Men Jüri TarmakURS Stefan JungeGDR Dwight StonesUSA
Pole Vault, Men Wolfgang NordwigGDR Bob SeagrenUSA Jan JohnsonUSA
Long Jump, Men Randy WilliamsUSA Hans BaumgartnerFRG Arnie RobinsonUSA
Triple Jump, Men Viktor SaneyevURS Jörg DrehmelGDR Nélson PrudêncioBRA
Shot Put, Men Władysław KomarPOL George WoodsUSA Hartmut BriesenickGDR
Discus Throw, Men Ludvík DaněkTCH Jay SilvesterUSA Ricky BruchSWE
Hammer Throw, Men Anatoly BondarchukURS Jochen SachseGDR Vasily KhmelevskyURS
Javelin Throw, Men Klaus WolfermannFRG Jānis LūsisURS Bill SchmidtUSA
Decathlon, Men Nikolay AvilovURS Leonid LitvinenkoURS Ryszard KatusPOL
100 metres, Women Renate StecherGDR Raelene BoyleAUS Silvia ChivásCUB
200 metres, Women Renate StecherGDR Raelene BoyleAUS Irena SzewińskaPOL
400 metres, Women Monika ZehrtGDR Rita WildenFRG Kathy HammondUSA
800 metres, Women Hildegard FalckFRG Nijolė SabaitėURS Gunhild HoffmeisterGDR
1,500 metres, Women Lyudmila BraginaURS Gunhild HoffmeisterGDR Paola CacchiITA
100 metres Hurdles, Women Annelie EhrhardtGDR Valeria BufanuROU Karin BalzerGDR
4 × 100 metres Relay, Women West GermanyFRG East GermanyGDR CubaCUB
4 × 400 metres Relay, Women East GermanyGDR United StatesUSA West GermanyFRG
High Jump, Women Ulrike MeyfarthFRG Yordanka BlagoevaBUL Ilona GusenbauerAUT
Long Jump, Women Heide RosendahlFRG Diana YorgovaBUL Eva ŠuranováTCH
Shot Put, Women Nadezhda ChizhovaURS Margitta GummelGDR Ivanka HristovaBUL
Discus Throw, Women Faina MelnikURS Argentina MenisROU Vasilka StoevaBUL
Javelin Throw, Women Ruth FuchsGDR Jacqueline TodtenGDR Kate SchmidtUSA
Pentathlon, Women Mary PetersGBR Heide RosendahlFRG Burglinde PollakGDR

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Soviet Union URS 9 7 1 17
East Germany GDR 8 7 5 20
United States USA 6 8 8 22
West Germany FRG 6 3 2 11
Finland FIN 3 0 1 4
Kenya KEN 2 2 2 6
Great Britain GBR 1 1 2 4
Poland POL 1 0 2 3
Czechoslovakia TCH 1 0 1 2
Uganda UGA 1 0 0 1
Bulgaria BUL 0 2 2 4
Australia AUS 0 2 0 2
Belgium BEL 0 2 0 2
Romania ROU 0 2 0 2
France FRA 0 1 1 2
Tunisia TUN 0 1 0 1
Cuba CUB 0 0 2 2
Ethiopia ETH 0 0 2 2
Italy ITA 0 0 2 2
Austria AUT 0 0 1 1
Brazil BRA 0 0 1 1
Jamaica JAM 0 0 1 1
New Zealand NZL 0 0 1 1
Sweden SWE 0 0 1 1