Joaquim Cruz

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 1
Bronze 0
Total 2
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameJoaquim•Carvalho Cruz
Used nameJoaquim•Cruz
Born12 March 1963 in Taguatinga, Distrito Federal (BRA)
Measurements187 cm / 74 kg
AffiliationsNebraska Cornhuskers, Lincoln (USA) / Nike, Beaverton (USA) / Reebok, Canton (USA) / União Esportiva Funilense, Cosmópolis (BRA)
NOC Brazil


Joaquim Cruz began running as a 13-year-old, and soon set a junior world record of 1:44.3 for 800 metres in 1981. In 1983 he received a scholarship to the University of Oregon and won the NCAA 800 metre title that same year, adding a bronze medal at the 1983 World Championships. In 1984, Cruz won a rare 800 m/1,500 m double at the NCAA Championships and went to the 1984 Olympics as a favorite in the 800 m, along with world record holder Seb Coe of Great Britain. In the 800 metre final, Cruz crossed the line in 1:43.00, breaking Alberto Juantorena’s Olympic record and making him the first Brazilian Olympic track and field gold medalist since triple jumper Adhemar Ferreira da Silva, who won gold in 1952 and 1956.

After the Olympics, on a European tour, Cruz had one of the great stretches in 800 metre running. At the Weltklasse meet in Zurich he won in 1:42.34, becoming only the second runner in history to break 1:43, and setting a Brazilian record. Two days later he ran 1:42.41 at the Van Damme Memorial in Brussels, and then two days after that, at a meeting in Köln (Cologne), Cruz ran the second fastest 800 meters in history, his time of 1:41.77 only four hundredths of a second short of Coe’s world record. By the end of 1984, Cruz was NCAA champion, Olympic champion, undefeated in all seven of his 800 metre finals, had run the 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th fastest 800 metre times in history, and easily ranked #1 in the world for 800 meters in 1984 by Track & Field News. In 1985 Cruz continued to impress, winning six of his eight 800 metre races, the last three of which were won under 1:43, and again ranked #1 in the world for the year.

Injuries later hindered his training and he never again reached the peaks of 1984-85. He won gold at the 1987 Pan American Games in the 1,500 and a silver in the 800 at the 1988 Olympics, but Achilles’ tendon problems kept him out of competition for several years. He returned to international meets in 1993, with little success, although he did win the 1,500 metres at the 1995 Pan American Games.

Personal Bests: 800 – 1:41.77 (1984); 1500 – 3:34.63 (1988).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1984 Summer Olympics Athletics BRA Joaquim Cruz
800 metres, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 1 h4 r1/3
1988 Summer Olympics Athletics BRA Joaquim Cruz
800 metres, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 7 h3 r1/3
1996 Summer Olympics Athletics BRA Joaquim Cruz
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 8 h2 r1/3

Other participations

Games Role NOC As
1996 Summer Olympics Flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony BRA Joaquim Cruz

Special Notes