| Event type

10,000 metres, Men

Date17 February 1968 — 8:00
LocationL'Anneau de Vitesse, Grenoble
Participants28 from 13 countries
Olympic Record 15:46.6 WR / Knut Johannesen NOR / 27 February 1960
StarterLeif HjallumNOR
RefereeSven LåftmanSWE

Only a few weeks before Norway’s Fred Anton Maier had won the European Championship, taking the 5,000 and 10,000 in the process. A distance specialist, Maier had set the last four world records in the 10K, including two in January 1968, and had already won the 5,000 in Grenoble. He seemed on form for a sure gold medal. He started in the first pair and his time of 15:23.9 was 26+ seconds under the Olympic record, only 3.6 seconds above his world record, and was the second fastest time ever. The gold seemed to be his. A challenger was thought to be Kees Verkerk (NED), but when he finished in 15:33.9 in the third pair, Maier seemed home free. But then Sweden’s Johnny Höglin started in the seventh pair. Though he had competed internationally since 1965, he had no significant reputation at any distance, and had never sniffed a podium before. But he hung on to Maier’s pace, almost equal to it through 8,400 metres. And he hung on, gradually pulling ahead in the next three laps, and finishing in 15:23.6 for one of the most improbable speed skating gold medals ever.

A few weeks later Maier would win the World Championships, and the 5 and 10K at that tournament. In 1968 he set seven world records, won both the European and World Championships and the 5 and 10K at both tournaments, won the 5,000 Olympic gold medal, but missed the one he wanted most. For Höglin, this was his career. He would mount the podium only one other time in a major international, at 1,500 metres at the 1974 European Championships. The bronze medalist, another Swede, was even more surprising. Örjan Sandler had competed around the world since 1964. But until the 1968 Winter Olympics, he had never finished better than 10th at any distance in any major meet.

17OJohnny HöglinSWE15:23.6GoldOR
21IFred Anton MaierNOR15:23.9SilverOR
312IÖrjan SandlerSWE15:31.8Bronze
411OPer Willy GuttormsenNOR15:32.6
53OKees VerkerkNED15:33.9
62OJonny NilssonSWE15:39.6
713IMagne ThomassenNOR15:44.9
89OPeter NottetNED15:54.7
91OValery LavrushkinURS15:54.8
1013OStanislav SelyaninURS15:56.4
116OGünter TraubFRG16:01.3
127IJouko LaunonenFIN16:02.1
1314OJan BolsNED16:09.5
146IKimmo KoskinenFIN16:15.7
155IPaul EnockCAN16:21.2
1612OAnatoly MashkovURS16:22.1
174IHermann StrutzAUT16:24.9
189IJürgen TraubFRG16:33.8
193IRenato De RivaITA16:39.5
2014IRaimo HietalaFIN16:45.9
2110OBill LaniganUSA16:50.1
224OYoshiaki DemachiJPN16:54.6
2311IBob HodgesCAN17:01.9
248IGiancarlo GloderITA17:03.2
255OBill CoxUSA17:08.2
268OFrançois PerrenoudFRA17:10.2
272IGyörgy IvánkaiHUN17:36.2
2810IHirofumi OtsukaJPN17:38.8