Luigi Beccali

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 1
Total 2
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameLuigi•Beccali
Used nameLuigi•Beccali
Born19 November 1907 in Milano, Milano (ITA)
Died29 August 1990 in Rapallo, Genova (ITA)
Measurements169 cm / 63 kg
AffiliationsPro Patria Milano, Milano (ITA)
NOC Italy


Luigi Beccali was the first Italian to win an Olympic gold in a track race, and the first to win a European Championship title in Athletics. Coached by Dino Nai, a university veterinary lecturer, and representing Pro Patria Milano, he made his debut at the Amsterdam Games but was only fourth in his 1500 m heat. Although he combined athletics with work, he managed to train twice a day, emulating professional training schedules. “Why do they go so fast today, compared to us 40 years ago?” he told Gazzetta dello Sport in 1974. “Because they train more, or rather, it’s the only thing they do. We also had to work. I had already understood then how things were and I trained more than the others, even secretly. Taking advantage of my job situation (I was a council surveyor, responsible for road maintenance, so I was on the road, unsupervised), I would go to the track and allow myself a few kilometres. Then in the afternoon, at the Giuriati track, I would work on speed.” The high point of his career was the Los Angeles Games, coming from behind (last 300 m in 41.7) to take the gold in the 1500 m. A year later, he equalled the World Record winning at the Universiad in Turin in 3:49.2. Just a few days later, on 17 September 1933, he became the sole record holder bettering the record at the Milan Arena to 3:49.0, which remained an Italian record for 23 years. In Berlin 1936 he did not manage to repeat his Los Angeles victory; he was outrun after 500 m and settled into third place behind Jack Lovelock and Glenn Cunningham. He moved to the United States and finished his running career in 1941, then became a wine trader. During his career, Beccali also won a gold (1934) and a bronze (1938) in the 1500 m at the European Championships, as well as 10 Italian titles (eight in the 1500 m, one in the 800 m, one in the 5000 m). In honor of his sporting achievements, Beccali was awarded a gold medal by the Italian Olympic Committee.

Personal Best: 1500 – 3:49.0 (1933).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1928 Summer Olympics Athletics ITA Luigi Beccali
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 4 h1 r1/2
1932 Summer Olympics Athletics ITA Luigi Beccali
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
4 × 400 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) Italy DNS
1936 Summer Olympics Athletics ITA Luigi Beccali
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 3 Bronze
4 × 400 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) Italy DNS

Special Notes