Abel Kiviat

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games • Competed in Olympic Games (non-medal events)
Full nameAbel Richard•Kiviat
Used nameAbel•Kiviat
Born23 June 1892 in Manhattan, New York, New York (USA)
Died24 August 1991 in Lakehurst, New Jersey (USA)
Measurements172 cm / 66 kg
AffiliationsI-AAC, Queens, New York (USA)
NOC United States
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 1
Bronze 0
Total 2


Born the son of a peddler in New York’s lower East Side, Abel Kiviat took up track in 1909, his senior year at Curtis High School. That year, when barely 17, he won the Canadian mile championship in 4:23.2 and from then on his successes were legion. Kiviat became one of the greatest indoor runners of all time and, despite his casual training methods and his inelegant bow-legged running style, he was also a record-breaker outdoors. Indoors, he won the AAU 600 y twice and the 1,000 y three times; at the outdoor championships he won the mile in 1911, 1912, and 1914. He also won the AAU cross-country title in 1913 when he led his Irish-American AC team to the team title. During his build-up for the 1912 Olympics he set three 1,500 m world records in 13 days, culminating with a mark of 3:55.8 at the Olympic Trials when he continued on to the mile post, where he was clocked in 4:15.6, which was only 0.2 seconds outside the world record. Kiviat arrived in Stockholm as the favorite for the 1,500 m title, but he was surprised by the home stretch drive of Oxford undergraduate Arnold Jackson and he took second in a photo from his teammate Norman Taber. However, Kiviat’s world record held and remained unbeaten for five more years. After seeing front line service with the army in France, he continued his athletic career until 1925. He coached track briefly but maintained a lifelong interest in the sport, officiating at major meets for more than 60 years and serving as chief press steward at the Penn Relays and many Madison Square Garden meets.

Kiviat also competed in the 1912 Olympic Baseball demonstration event.

Personal Bests: 1500 – 3:55.8 (1912); Mile – 4:15.6 (1912); 3000 – unknown.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1912 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Abel Kiviat
1,500 metres, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
3,000 metres, Team, Men (Olympic) United States 1 Gold
Baseball (Baseball/Softball) USA Abel Kiviat
Baseball, Men (Olympic (non-medal)) United States 1
Baseball, Men (Olympic (non-medal)) US East "Olympics" 1