Emil Voigt

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameEmil Robert•Voigt
Used nameEmil•Voigt
Born31 January 1883 in Ardwick, Greater Manchester, England (GBR)
Died15 October 1973 in Auckland (NZL)
Measurements165 cm / 53 kg
AffiliationsManchester AC, Manchester (GBR)
NOC Great Britain
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1


Born in Ardwick, Lancashire, England of German parentage, Emil Voigt retained for Great Britain the Olympic 5 miles title that Henry Hawtrey had won in 1906. Voigt was educated at Ross Place School, and later joined the Slade Harriers and the Manchester AC. By virtue of his win in the AAA 4 miles ten days earlier, Voigt was one of the favorites for the 1908 Olympic title, his main opposition came from John Svanberg of Sweden, the world record holder at 5,000 metres, and Charles Hefferon, the versatile holder of the South African mile record, who was to finish second in the marathon later in the Games. Voigt soon disposed of this foreign challenge and won the Olympic title with 70 yards to spare over fellow Mancunian Eddie Owen. Voigt later claimed that his victory was mainly due to his being a vegetarian, teetotaler, and non-smoker. Emil Voigt retained his AAA 4 mile title in 1909, and after winning the mile in 1910 he subsequently retired from competition.

A master engineer who spoke five languages, Voigt sailed for Australia in 1911, where he became one of the pioneers of radio, setting up his own broadcasting station specializing in wrestling commentaries, and he served for 12 years as President of the Australian Federation of Broadcasting Stations. He began to compete again, however briefly, and won the Victorian Championships in the mile in 1912. He started the “Olympic Self-Massage Course” and published a book, Self-Massage: The Way to Greater Health, Virility, and Happiness. While in Australia, Voigt also started Voigt & King, mechanical engineers, at Armadale. He moved back to England and during World War I ran a welding and brazing works in Manchester. Returning to Australia in 1921, he was active in politics and the development of radio and radio stations down under. He served as director and president of several radio stations and several associations of stations. In his bio in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, historian Chris Cunneen notes that Voigt was, “A restless, contradictory idealist, he had served Australia’s early wireless industry and fought in the cockpit of 1920s Sydney Labor politics.” His granddaughter commented of his political career, which was investigated by the Australian authorities, “He was thought to be a Marxist, but this was never proven. He did a lot to improve working conditions and help the underdog.” In 1948 Voigt moved to New Zealand, where he continued with his various business interests until his death at the age of 90.

Personal Bests: Mile – 4:19.8 (1910); 3 miles – 14:32.4 (1909); 4 miles – 19:47.4 (1908); 5 miles – 25:11.2 (1908); 10000 – 32:37.4 (1909).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1908 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Emil Voigt
5 miles, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold