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| Event type

400 metres, Men

Date29 August 1904
StatusOlympic
LocationFrancis Field, Washington University, St. Louis
Participants12 from 3 countries
FormatFinal only.
Olympic Record 49.4 / Maxey Long USA / 15 July 1900

Harry Hillman was probably the favorite although Canada’s Percival Molson would also be closely watched, based on his victory over Hillman at the 1904 Canadian championships. There were no heats, as the thirteen runners started together, with twelve men on the line, and one, unknown soul forced to start behind the front line. Herman Groman went into the lead at 70 metres, and quickly opened a gap. The field immediately sorted itself out into two groups. At 200 metres Hillman, who had been running third, took the lead, while Joseph Fleming left the second pack and joined the main group. Into the last turn, George Poage tried to pass but was cut off by Fleming and Frank Waller. The final sprint involved Hillman, Waller, Groman, Fleming and Meyer Prinstein, as Poage fell back. Hillman powered ahead to win by about three yards over Waller, with Groman on Waller’s heels and Fleming and Prinstein finishing almost together, another two yards back.

Though Percival Molson failed to place, he would achieve his fame later, but it would cost him his life. Molson, the great-grandson of John Molson, founder of Molson Breweries of Canada, attended McGill, from which he graduated in 1900, after serving as president of his senior class and gaining every athletic honor the university could offer. When World War I broke out, he joined the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and fought for them at the Battle of Mount Sorrel in 1916. He was wounded during the battle and returned home, receiving the Military Cross for his efforts. He insisted he be allowed to rejoin the company and on 5 July 1917, while fighting on the outskirts of Avion, France, he was hit by mortar fire while attempting to rescue a fallen friend. Both were killed. In his honor, the main athletic stadium at McGill University is known as the Percival Molson Memorial Stadium.

PosNrAthleteNOCTime
1155Harry HillmanUSA49.2GoldOR
2173Frank WallerUSA49.9Silver
3115Herman GromanUSA50.0Bronze
464Joseph FlemingUSA
5136Meyer PrinsteinUSA
6170George PoageUSA
AC117Clyde BlairUSA
AC23Percy MolsonCAN
AC154Paul PilgrimUSA
AC105Johannes RungeGER
AC152George UnderwoodUSA
AC153Howard ValentineUSA
DNS166Edwin ClappUSA
DNS17Frank DaveyUSA
DNS56Paul BehrensUSA
DNS129Phillips ComstockUSA
DNS28Frank LukemanCAN
DNS144Charles BaconUSA
DNS79Fay MoultonUSA
DNS160David MunsonUSA