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Bob Tisdall

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameRobert Morton Newburgh "Bob"•Tisdall
Used nameBob•Tisdall
Nick/petnamesThe Irish Wonder
Born16 May 1907 in Nuwara Eliya (SRI)
Died27 July 2004 in Nambour, Queensland (AUS)
Measurements186 cm / 74 kg
AffiliationsAchilles Club, (GBR)
NOC(s) Ireland


A year before the 1932 Olympics, nobody would have even considered Bob Tisdall for the Olympic gold in the 400 m hurdles. While a decent sprinter and high hurdler at Cambridge University, where he majored in agriculture and forestry, Tisdall had never contested the event until, early in 1932, he asked the president of the Irish NOC to send him to Los Angeles for that event. He met the qualifying standard in his second attempt, winning the Irish championship in the event. In 1931 Tisdall had won four events in the Oxbridge meet – the 440 yards, long jump, shot put, and 120 yard hurdles. He was Irish champion in the 120 yard hurdles in 1930 and in the 440 yards hurdles in 1932, but he was not considered of world caliber. But once in Los Angeles, Tisdall was unbeatable. In the final, he even bettered the world record to win the gold medal. He received the medal, but not the record, as Tisdall had knocked over the final hurdle, which was not allowed by the rules of the day for record purposes.

Born in Sri Lanka, raised in Ireland and educated in England, Tisdall emigrated to South Africa at the end of 1933 and while there helped to form the South African-Irish Regiment during World War II. He later lived in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), Kenya and Tanzania before returning to Ireland and eventually settling in Nambour, in Queensland, Australia. He participated in the torch relay for the Sydney Olympics, aged 93.

Personal Bests: 400H – 51.67 (1932); Dec – 6398 (1932).


Games Discipline (Sport) Event Status Team Pos Representing 2nd NOC As
1932 Summer Olympics Athletics 400 metres Hurdles, Men Olympic 1 Gold IRL Bob Tisdall
  Decathlon, Men Olympic 8

Olympic Records

Records may have been broken subsequently during the same competition.
Games Date Sport Event Phase Mark Pos
1932 Summer Olympics 31 July 1932 Athletics 400 metres Hurdles, Men Round One, Heat Two 54.63 WR 1
1932 Summer Olympics 31 July 1932 Athletics 400 metres Hurdles, Men Semi-Finals, Heat Two 52.8 1
1932 Summer Olympics 1 August 1932 Athletics 400 metres Hurdles, Men Final 51.8 1
1932 Summer Olympics 5 August 1932 Athletics Decathlon, Men (400 metres) 400 metres 969.92 1