| Event type

1,500 metres, Men

Date4 – 6 August 1948
LocationEmpire Stadium, Wembley, London
Participants36 from 22 countries

The top milers during World War II were Arne Andersson and Gunder Hägg, both Swedish, but neither was eligible for the 1948 Olympics, having been declared professionals for accepting expense money. The early favorite at London was another Swede, Lennart Strand, who had led the world list in 1947 over both the mile and 1,500 metres, and had been European Champion in 1946. Two of the other favorites were also Swedish, Henry Eriksson and Gösta Bergkvist, who had been 2nd and 3rd in the 1947 1,500 metre list. Eriksson had also finished second at the 1946 European Championships. The Swedes were looking to sweep the medals in the 1,500, despite the absence of Andersson and Hägg.

Started in a cold rain, the final saw Belgium’s Marcel Hansenne take off at a suicidal pace, running 58.3 for the first lap and opening up a big lead. He was caught by the three Swedes shortly after finishing the second lap in the lead. Eriksson took the lead at 1,000 metres, with Strand on his heels. Together they were alone in the lead with 300 metres remaining. Despite his stronger sprint, Strand could never close the gap on Eriksson, although they ran shoulder-to-shoulder until 50 metres from the tape. Eriksson held on to win comfortably in the final straight. Strand barely held off the Dutchman, Wim Slijkhuis, who closed very quickly, passing Bergkvist on the final straight, and preventing a Swedish sweep. Slijkhuis attempted to pass Strand on the inside near the finish but Strand pulled over and bumped Slijkhuis, knocking him briefly off the track.

Although we are quite certain of the above, and of the first six finishers, places 7-12 in the final have been disputed for years and numerous orders of the runners’ finishes have been published. Here are some of the versions that are seen. Volker Kluge, in his monumental series, Olympische Sommerspiele: Die Chronik II, has as follows: 7) Sándor Garay, 8) Erik Jørgensen, 9) Josy Barthel, 10) Don Gehrmann, 11) Marcel Hansenne, 12) Denis Johansson. Ekkehard zur Megede in The Olympic Century has the following: 7) Don Gehrmann, 8) Erik Jørgensen, 9) Denis Johansson, 10) Josy Barthel, 11) Marcel Hansenne, 12) Sándor Garay. Zur Megede appears to have used material from Bob Sparks, late President of the ATFS, who looked at photofinishes of the race. In 1948 Track & Field News published the following results: 7) Erik Jørgensen, 8) Don Gehrmann, 9) Denis Johansson, 10) Josy Barthel, 11) Marcel Hansenne, 12) Sándor Garay. The results we have used are based on information from Richard Hymans, British athletics statistical expert, who has also looked at photos and films of the race, and whose results differ slightly from all the above. We have supplemented this by various descriptions from multiple national sources, including a Swedish radio report of the finish of the race, which definitively gives Garay as placing seventh.

1194Henry ErikssonSWE3:53.8 (1 h3)3:49.8 (1)Gold
2195Lennart StrandSWE3:54.2 (1 h1)3:50.4 (2)Silver
3189Wim SlijkhuisNED3:52.4 (1 h2)3:50.4 (3)Bronze
4178Václav ČevonaTCH3:53.0 (2 h2)3:51.2 (4)
5193Gösta BergkvistSWE3:51.8 (1 h4)3:52.2 (5)
6187Bill NankevilleGBR3:55.8 (2 h3)3:52.6 (6)
7190Sándor GarayHUN3:53.0 (3 h4)3:54.4 (7)
8198Don GehrmannUSA3:54.8 (3 h1)3:54.5 (8)
9179Erik JørgensenDEN3:54.2 (2 h1)3:56.1 (9)
10161Josy BarthelLUX3:56.4 (3 h3)3:56.9 (10)
11151Marcel HansenneFRA3:52.8 (2 h4)4:02.0 (11)
12182Denis JohanssonFIN3:54.0 (3 h2)– (12)
4 h1 r1/2158Frits de RuijterNED3:55.2 (4 h1)
4 h2 r1/2146Jack HutchinsCAN3:54.4 (4 h2)
4 h3 r1/2185Jean VernierFRA3:57.6 (4 h3)
4 h4 r1/2199Roland SinkUSA3:53.2 (4 h4)
5 h1 r1/2183Olavi LuotoFIN3:58.0 (5 h1)
5 h2 r1/2188Doug WilsonGBR3:54.8 (5 h2)
5 h3 r1/2174Melchor PalmeiroARG4:01.6 (5 h3)
5 h4 r1/2191Kaare VeflingNOR3:54.6 (5 h4)
6 h1 r1/2184Henri KleinFRA3:59.8 (6 h1)
6 h2 r1/2197Clem EischenUSA4:00.2 (6 h2)
6 h3 r1/2159Óskar JónssonISL4:03.2 (6 h3)
6 h4 r1/2186Dick MorrisGBR3:55.8 (6 h4)
7 h1 r1/2171Cahit ÖnelTUR4:00.0est (7 h1)
7 h2 r1/2154Vasilios MavroidisGRE– (7 h2)
7 h3 r1/2170Rıza Maksut İşmanTUR– (7 h3)
7 h4 r1/2180Ingvard NielsenDEN4:01.7est (7 h4)
8 h1 r1/2181John Joe BarryIRL4:00.5est (8 h1)
8 h2 r1/2163Juan AdarragaESP4:03.7est (8 h2)
8 h4 r1/2196Heinz HublerSUI4:03.0est (8 h4)
9 h1 r1/2176Cliff SalmondCAN4:16.2est (9 h1)
9 h4 r1/2160Lee Yun-SeokKOR– (9 h4)
AC h1 r1/2162Antero MongrutPER– (AC h1)
AC h2 r1/2168Wilfred TullTTO– (AC h2)
AC h3 r1/2147Bill ParnellCAN– (DNF h3)
DNS142Bruno SchneiderAUT– (DNS h2)
DNS192Daniel PoyánESP– (DNS h3)
DNS141Adán TorresARG– (DNS h2)
DNS175Gaston ReiffBEL– (DNS h3)
DNS144Raymond RosierBEL– (DNS h4)
DNS166Hans StreuliSUI– (DNS h1)

Round One (4 August 1948 — 16:30)

Top three in each heat advanced to the final.

Heat One

PosOrdAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
11Lennart StrandSWE3:54.23:54.3Q
22Erik JørgensenDEN3:54.2Q
34Don GehrmannUSA3:54.8Q
43Frits de RuijterNED3:55.2
55Olavi LuotoFIN3:58.0
66Henri KleinFRA3:59.8
711Cahit ÖnelTUR4:00.0est
88John Joe BarryIRL4:00.5est
97Cliff SalmondCAN4:16.2est
AC9Antero MongrutPER
DNS10Hans StreuliSUI

Heat Two

PosOrdAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
12Wim SlijkhuisNED3:52.43:52.8Q
21Václav ČevonaTCH3:53.0Q
34Denis JohanssonFIN3:54.0Q
47Jack HutchinsCAN3:54.4
53Doug WilsonGBR3:54.8
611Clem EischenUSA4:00.2
78Vasilios MavroidisGRE
89Juan AdarragaESP4:03.7est
AC10Wilfred TullTTO
DNS6Bruno SchneiderAUT
DNS5Adán TorresARG

Heat Three

PosOrdAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
11Henry ErikssonSWE3:53.83:53.8Q
25Bill NankevilleGBR3:55.8Q
32Josy BarthelLUX3:56.4Q
43Jean VernierFRA3:57.6
54Melchor PalmeiroARG4:01.6
68Óskar JónssonISL4:03.2
710Rıza Maksut İşmanTUR
DNF7Bill ParnellCAN
DNS9Daniel PoyánESP
DNS6Gaston ReiffBEL

Heat Four

PosOrdAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
13Gösta BergkvistSWE3:51.83:51.8Q
21Marcel HansenneFRA3:52.8Q
32Sándor GarayHUN3:53.0Q
45Roland SinkUSA3:53.2
54Kaare VeflingNOR3:54.6
66Dick MorrisGBR3:55.8
78Ingvard NielsenDEN4:01.7est
810Heinz HublerSUI4:03.0est
99Lee Yun-SeokKOR
DNS7Raymond RosierBEL

Final (6 August 1948 — 17:00)

PosNrAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
1194Henry ErikssonSWE3:49.83:50.0
2195Lennart StrandSWE3:50.43:50.40
3189Wim SlijkhuisNED3:50.43:50.48
4178Václav ČevonaTCH3:51.23:51.37
5193Gösta BergkvistSWE3:52.23:52.05
6187Bill NankevilleGBR3:52.63:52.51
7190Sándor GarayHUN3:54.43:54.631
8198Don GehrmannUSA3:54.53:54.65
9179Erik JørgensenDEN3:56.13:56.28
10161Josy BarthelLUX3:56.93:57.14
11151Marcel HansenneFRA4:02.0
12182Denis JohanssonFIN


400 m58.3Marcel Hansenne
800 m2:02.6Marcel Hansenne
1200 m3:05.0Henry Eriksson