Athletics at the 1920 Summer Olympics

Track & field athletics was the most highly awaited sport on the Olympic program. It was contested in the Stadium of the Royal Beerschot Athletic Club, usually known as the Beerschot Stadium. The stadium could hold approximately 29,500 people. The track was slightly under 389.80 metres in length and was wet and soft throughout the Olympics, leading to rather poor times.

The competition in Antwerp was still quite good in track & field. Among Olympic competition, only Stockholm rivalled it and it was now becoming apparent that the Olympics were attracting a truly international field. Track & field had been contested at the 1919 Inter-Allied Championships, and national championships had been held in 1919 and 1920 in both the United States and Great Britain. Still, because of the dearth of recent competition, due to World War I, it was difficult to choose favorites in many of the events.

In general, times were never published in 1920, and possibly not taken, for the non-winners. Later sources have often listed times for the non-winners, but these are almost certainly estimates. We have not used them. Rather, we have listed margins between places, based on contemporary 1920 newspaper reports. We have then derived our own estimates, based on these margins and the average speed of the races.

Events

Event Status Date Participants NOCs
100 metres, Men Olympic 15 – 16 August 1920 60 22
200 metres, Men Olympic 19 – 20 August 1920 48 22
400 metres, Men Olympic 19 – 20 August 1920 37 16
800 metres, Men Olympic 15 – 17 August 1920 40 17
1,500 metres, Men Olympic 18 – 19 August 1920 29 12
5,000 metres, Men Olympic 16 – 17 August 1920 38 16
10,000 metres, Men Olympic 19 – 20 August 1920 34 17
Marathon, Men Olympic 22 August 1920 48 17
110 metres Hurdles, Men Olympic 17 – 18 August 1920 24 15
400 metres Hurdles, Men Olympic 15 – 16 August 1920 19 9
3,000 metres Steeplechase, Men Olympic 18 – 20 August 1920 16 6
4 x 100 metres Relay, Men Olympic 21 – 22 August 1920 52 13
4 x 400 metres Relay, Men Olympic 22 – 23 August 1920 24 6
3,000 metres, Team, Men Olympic 21 – 22 August 1920 31 6
3,000 metres Walk, Men Olympic 20 – 21 August 1920 22 12
10 kilometer Walk, Men Olympic 17 – 18 August 1920 23 13
Cross-Country, Individual, Men Olympic 23 August 1920 47 12
Cross-Country, Team, Men Olympic 23 August 1920 41 7
High Jump, Men Olympic 15 – 17 August 1920 22 9
Pole Vault, Men Olympic 18 – 20 August 1920 16 7
Long Jump, Men Olympic 17 – 18 August 1920 29 11
Triple Jump, Men Olympic 19 – 21 August 1920 21 8
Shot Put, Men Olympic 17 – 18 August 1920 20 10
56-pound Weight Throw, Men Olympic 20 – 21 August 1920 12 4
Discus Throw, Men Olympic 21 – 22 August 1920 17 8
Hammer Throw, Men Olympic 18 August 1920 12 5
Javelin Throw, Men Olympic 15 August 1920 25 12
Pentathlon, Men Olympic 16 August 1920 19 8
Decathlon, Men Olympic 20 – 21 August 1920 23 11
509 (509/0) 25 (25/0)

Medals

Event Gold Silver Bronze
100 metres, Men Charley PaddockUSA Morris KirkseyUSA Harry EdwardGBR
200 metres, Men Allen WoodringUSA Charley PaddockUSA Harry EdwardGBR
400 metres, Men Bevil RuddRSA Guy ButlerGBR Nils EngdahlSWE
800 metres, Men Albert HillGBR Earl EbyUSA Bevil RuddRSA
1,500 metres, Men Albert HillGBR Philip BakerGBR Larry ShieldsUSA
5,000 metres, Men Joseph GuillemotFRA Paavo NurmiFIN Eric BackmanSWE
10,000 metres, Men Paavo NurmiFIN Joseph GuillemotFRA James WilsonGBR
Marathon, Men Hannes KolehmainenFIN Jüri LossmanEST Valerio ArriITA
110 metres Hurdles, Men Tommy ThomsonCAN Hal BarronUSA Fred MurrayUSA
400 metres Hurdles, Men Frank LoomisUSA John NortonUSA Gus DeschUSA
3,000 metres Steeplechase, Men Percy HodgeGBR Pat FlynnUSA Ernesto AmbrosiniITA
4 × 100 metres Relay, Men United StatesUSA FranceFRA SwedenSWE
4 × 400 metres Relay, Men Great BritainGBR South AfricaRSA France 1FRA
3,000 metres, Team, Men United StatesUSA Great BritainGBR SwedenSWE
3,000 metres Walk, Men Ugo FrigerioITA George ParkerAUS Richard RemerUSA
10 kilometres Walk, Men Ugo FrigerioITA Joe PearmanUSA Charlie GunnGBR
Cross-Country, Individual, Men Paavo NurmiFIN Eric BackmanSWE Heikki LiimatainenFIN
Cross-Country, Team, Men FinlandFIN Great BritainGBR SwedenSWE
High Jump, Men Dick LandonUSA Harold MullerUSA Bo EkelundSWE
Pole Vault, Men Frank FossUSA Henry PetersenDEN Ed MyersUSA
Long Jump, Men William PeterssonSWE Carl JohnsonUSA Erik AbrahamssonSWE
Triple Jump, Men Ville TuulosFIN Folke JanssonSWE Erik AlmlöfSWE
Shot Put, Men Ville PörhöläFIN Elmer NiklanderFIN Harry LiversedgeUSA
56-pound Weight Throw, Men Pat McDonaldUSA Paddy RyanUSA Carl Johan LindSWE
Discus Throw, Men Elmer NiklanderFIN Armas TaipaleFIN Gus PopeUSA
Hammer Throw, Men Paddy RyanUSA Carl Johan LindSWE Basil BennettUSA
Javelin Throw, Men Jonni MyyräFIN Urho PeltonenFIN Paavo JohanssonFIN
Pentathlon, Men Eero LehtonenFIN Everett BradleyUSA Hugo LahtinenFIN
Decathlon, Men Helge LøvlandNOR Brutus HamiltonUSA Bertil OhlsonSWE

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States USA 9 12 8 29
Finland FIN 9 4 3 16
Great Britain GBR 4 4 4 12
Italy ITA 2 0 2 4
Sweden SWE 1 3 10 14
France FRA 1 2 1 4
South Africa RSA 1 1 1 3
Canada CAN 1 0 0 1
Norway NOR 1 0 0 1
Australia AUS 0 1 0 1
Denmark DEN 0 1 0 1
Estonia EST 0 1 0 1