Athletics at the 1908 Summer Olympics

For the first time virtually all the world’s best track & field athletes competed at the Olympic Games and 430 athletes from 21 countries took part. The United States won 16 gold medals, Great Britain and her Dominions won 9, and the only other country to win a gold medal was Sweden for whom Eric Lemming won both styles of the javelin.

Stringent qualifying conditions applied and for events up to 1,500 metres and both hurdle races only the winners advanced to the next round. This “sudden death” qualifying system produced some inconsistent results and in a number of cases athletes who would have been comfortable winners of other heats were eliminated. Certainly a system whereby a limited number of fastest losers advanced to the next rounds would have been preferable.

There is no evidence that all the marks in the qualifying round of the throwing events were actually measured. It seems likely that, if it was obviously apparent that a competitor had a better earlier mark, the officials did not bother to measure any subsequent inferior marks. Performances in the field events were measured in both the Imperial and Metric System.

The track was 1/3rd of a mile in circumference - 586 yards, 2 feet (536.45 metres). It was within the huge White City Stadium and was surrounded by the 660-yard cycle track, but surrounded the infield which contained the swimming pool, the area for the field events, wrestling, gymnastics, archery, and football (soccer) matches.

Events

Event Status Date Participants NOCs
100 metres, Men Olympic 20 – 22 July 1908 60 16
200 metres, Men Olympic 21 – 23 July 1908 43 15
400 metres, Men Olympic 21 – 25 July 1908 37 11
800 metres, Men Olympic 20 – 21 July 1908 38 11
1,500 metres, Men Olympic 13 – 14 July 1908 44 15
5 mile, Men Olympic 15 – 18 July 1908 35 14
Marathon, Men Olympic 24 July 1908 55 16
110 metres Hurdles, Men Olympic 21 – 25 July 1908 25 10
400 metres Hurdles, Men Olympic 20 – 22 July 1908 15 6
3,200 metres Steeplechase, Men Olympic 17 – 18 July 1908 24 6
1,600 metres Medley Relay, Men Olympic 24 – 25 July 1908 29 7
3 Mile, Team, Men Olympic 14 – 15 July 1908 28 6
3,500 metres Walk, Men Olympic 14 July 1908 25 8
10 mile Walk, Men Olympic 16 – 17 July 1908 25 8
High Jump, Men Olympic 21 July 1908 22 10
Standing High Jump, Men Olympic 23 July 1908 23 11
Pole Vault, Men Olympic 24 July 1908 15 7
Long Jump, Men Olympic 22 July 1908 32 9
Standing Long Jump, Men Olympic 20 July 1908 25 11
Triple Jump, Men Olympic 25 July 1908 20 8
Shot Put, Men Olympic 16 July 1908 25 8
Discus Throw, Men Olympic 16 July 1908 42 11
Discus Throw, Greek Style, Men Olympic 18 July 1908 23 8
Hammer Throw, Men Olympic 14 July 1908 19 8
Javelin Throw, Men Olympic 17 July 1908 16 6
Javelin Throw, Freestyle, Men Olympic 15 July 1908 33 9
431 (431/0) 20 (20/0)

Medals

Event Gold Silver Bronze
100 metres, Men Reggie WalkerRSA James RectorUSA Bobby KerrCAN
200 metres, Men Bobby KerrCAN Bobby CloughenUSA Nate CartmellUSA
400 metres, Men Wyndham HalswelleGBR
800 metres, Men Mel SheppardUSA Emilio LunghiITA Hanns BraunGER
1,500 metres, Men Mel SheppardUSA Harold WilsonGBR Norman HallowsGBR
5 mile, Men Emil VoigtGBR Eddie OwenGBR John SvanbergSWE
Marathon, Men Johnny HayesUSA Charles HefferonRSA Joe ForshawUSA
110 metres Hurdles, Men Forrest SmithsonUSA Johnny GarrelsUSA Art ShawUSA
400 metres Hurdles, Men Charles BaconUSA Harry HillmanUSA Jimmy TremeerGBR
3,200 metres Steeplechase, Men Arthur RussellGBR Arthur RobertsonGBR John EiseleUSA
1,600 metres Medley Relay, Men United StatesUSA GermanyGER HungaryHUN
3 mile, Team, Men Great BritainGBR United StatesUSA FranceFRA
3,500 metres Walk, Men George LarnerGBR Ernie WebbGBR Harry KerrANZ
10 mile Walk, Men George LarnerGBR Ernie WebbGBR Edward SpencerGBR
High Jump, Men Harry PorterUSA Con Leahy
István Somodi
Géo André
GBR
HUN
FRA
Standing High Jump, Men Ray EwryUSA John Biller
Kostas Tsiklitiras
USA
GRE
Pole Vault, Men A. C. Gilbert
Ed Cook
USA
USA
Clare Jacobs
Bruno Söderström
Ed Archibald
USA
SWE
CAN
Long Jump, Men Frank IronsUSA Dan KellyUSA Cal BrickerCAN
Standing Long Jump, Men Ray EwryUSA Kostas TsiklitirasGRE Martin SheridanUSA
Triple Jump, Men Tim AhearneGBR Garfield MacDonaldCAN Edvard LarsenNOR
Shot Put, Men Ralph RoseUSA Denis HorganGBR Johnny GarrelsUSA
Discus Throw, Men Martin SheridanUSA Merritt GiffinUSA Bill HorrUSA
Discus Throw, Greek Style, Men Martin SheridanUSA Bill HorrUSA Verner JärvinenFIN
Hammer Throw, Men John FlanaganUSA Matt McGrathUSA Con WalshCAN
Javelin Throw, Men Eric LemmingSWE Arne HalseNOR Otto NilssonSWE
Javelin Throw, Freestyle, Men Eric LemmingSWE Mikhail DorizasGRE Arne HalseNOR

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States USA 16 10 8 34
Great Britain GBR 7 7 3 17
Sweden SWE 2 0 3 5
Canada CAN 1 1 4 6
South Africa RSA 1 1 0 2
Greece GRE 0 3 0 3
Norway NOR 0 1 2 3
France FRA 0 1 1 2
Germany GER 0 1 1 2
Hungary HUN 0 1 1 2
Italy ITA 0 1 0 1
Australasia ANZ 0 0 1 1
Finland FIN 0 0 1 1