| Event type

110 metres Hurdles, Men

Date21 – 25 July 1908
LocationWhite City Stadium, London
Participants25 from 10 countries

The Olympic record was 15.4, set by Al Kraenzlein in Paris in 1900. The world record was 15.2, co-held by America’s Johnny Garrells and Art Shaw. The Americans were the top hurdlers in the world, and it is instructive to look at the winners of their recent major meets. Forrest Smithson had won the 1907 AAU title, while in 1908, Art Shaw won that event. At the 1908 American Olympic Trial Meets, four different hurdlers won: Smithson (Western), Garrells (Central), Shaw (IC4A), and Leonard Howe of Yale (Eastern). Garrells had also won the IC4A crown in 1907.

This race was not run on the cinder track but on a grass track in the infield of the White City Stadium. Fourteen heats resulted in the elimination of only 11 competitors. In the second round, Forrest Smithson equalled the Olympic record and then set a world record of 15.0 in the final. The four American finalists were undoubtedly the best in the field but, surprisingly, they had never raced against each other before.

A well-known photograph suggests that Smithson won the final carrying a Bible in his left hand, and this false rumor has been oft repeated. But this was, in fact, a posed photograph taken to support Smithson’s protest against Sunday competition. Precisely to whom this protest was directed is not clear. The Olympic final was held on a Saturday, and Sunday competition was virtually unknown in England at the time. Smithson was a devoutly religious man and, after winning the 1909 AAU hurdles title, he became a minister.

1Forrest SmithsonUSA15.8 (1 h10)15.4 (1 h2)15.0 (1)GoldWR
2Johnny GarrelsUSA16.2 (1 h2)16.2 (1 h4)15.7est (2)Silver
3Art ShawUSA15.6 (1 h14)15.6 (1 h1)15.8est (3)Bronze
4William RandUSA15.8 (1 h5)15.8 (1 h3)16.0est (4)
2 h1 r2/3Eric HusseyGBR16.8 (1 h11)16.5est / at 6 yards (2 h1)
2 h2 r2/3William KnyvettGBR– (1 h7)15.6est (2 h2)
2 h3 r2/3Alfred HealeyGBR15.8 (1 h1)15.9est / at 1 foot (2 h3)
2 h4 r2/3Cecil KinahanGBR16.8 (1 h12)17.5est / at 10 yards (2 h4)
3 h1 r2/3Wallis WaltersGBR17.8 (1 h6)16.9est / at 2 yards (3 h1)
3 h2 r2/3Leonard HoweUSA15.8 (1 h13)15.8est (3 h2)
3 h3 r2/3Laurence KielyGBR– (1 h4)– (3 h3)
4 h1 r2/3Oswald GroeningsGBR16.4 (1 h3)– (4 h1)
4 h3 r2/3Tim AhearneGBR– (1 h9)– (4 h3)
1 h8 r1/3Fernand HalbartBEL– (1 h8)
2 h1 r1/3Henry MurrayANZ16.3est / at 4 yards (2 h1)
2 h2 r1/3Arthur HalliganGBR17.1est / at 7 yards (2 h2)
2 h3 r1/3Georgios SkoutaridisGRE17.0est / at 5 yards (2 h3)
2 h5 r1/3Kenneth PowellGBR16.2est / at 3 yards (2 h5)
2 h10 r1/3Nándor KovácsHUN17.2est / at 10 yards (2 h10)
2 h12 r1/3Oscar GuttormsenNOR18.2est / at 10 yards (2 h12)
2 h13 r1/3Edward LeaderGBR16.1est / at 1½ yards (2 h13)
3 h1 r1/3Doug StupartRSA– (3 h1)
3 h5 r1/3Ted SavageCAN– (3 h5)
AC h6 r1/3Oscar LemmingSWE– (DNF h6)
AC h11 r1/3Wilhelm BlystadNOR– (DNF h11)
DNSFrancis RodSUI
DNSFrank NatwickUSA
DNSEmile HautekeetBEL
DNSIván MedgyessyHUN
DNSDouglas RobbinsUSA
DNSJohn HartranftUSA
DNSEugène SteinerFRA
DNSAlex GordonGBR
DNSGeorges DurbecFRA
DNSErnő KéméndyHUN
DNSPaul CazenaveFRA
DNSCharles HervocheFRA
DNSAxel LjungSWE
DNSGeorge BarberCAN
DNSCal BrickerCAN
DNSGarfield MacDonaldCAN
DNSRagnar StenbergFIN
DNSEugène ChoiselFRA
DNSLouis LescaFRA
DNSHenri MeslotFRA
DNSÖdön HolitsHUN
DNSEmilio BrambillaITA
DNSAlfredo PaganiITA
DNSEvert KoopsNED
DNSJulius WagnerSUI
DNSKarl FryksdahlSWE
DNSKnut LindbergSWE
DNSNorman PattersonUSA
DNSVincent DunckerRSA

Round One1 (23 July 1908 — 15:30)

Winner in each heat advanced to the semi-finals.

Heat One

1Alfred HealeyGBR15.8Q
2Henry MurrayANZ16.3est / at 4 yards2
3Doug StupartRSA

Heat Two

1Johnny GarrelsUSA16.2Q
2Arthur HalliganGBR17.1est / at 7 yards

Heat Three

1Oswald GroeningsGBR16.4Q
2Georgios SkoutaridisGRE17.0est / at 5 yards

Heat Four

1Laurence KielyGBRQwalkover

Heat Five

1William RandUSA15.8Q
2Kenneth PowellGBR16.2est / at 3 yards
3Ted SavageCAN

Heat Six

1Wallis WaltersGBR17.8Q
DNFOscar LemmingSWE

Heat Seven

1William KnyvettGBRQwalkover

Heat Eight

1Fernand HalbartBELQwalkover

Heat Nine

1Tim AhearneGBRQwalkover

Heat Ten

1Forrest SmithsonUSA15.8Q
2Nándor KovácsHUN17.2est / at 10 yards

Heat Eleven

1Eric HusseyGBR16.8Q
DNFWilhelm BlystadNOR

Heat Twelve

1Cecil KinahanGBR16.8Q
2Oscar GuttormsenNOR18.2est / at 10 yards

Heat Thirteen

1Leonard HoweUSA15.8Q
2Edward LeaderGBR16.1est / at 1½ yards

Heat Fourteen

1Art ShawUSA15.6Qwalkover

Semi-Finals3 (24 July 1908 — 11:30)

Winner in each heat advanced to the final.

Heat One

1Art ShawUSA15.6Q
2Eric HusseyGBR16.5est / at 6 yards
3Wallis WaltersGBR16.9est / at 2 yards
4Oswald GroeningsGBR

Heat Two

1Forrest SmithsonUSA15.4Q=OR
2William KnyvettGBR15.6est
3Leonard HoweUSA15.8est

Heat Three

1William RandUSA15.8Q
2Alfred HealeyGBR15.9est / at 1 foot
3Laurence KielyGBR
4Tim AhearneGBR

Heat Four

1Johnny GarrelsUSA16.2Q
2Cecil KinahanGBR17.5est / at 10 yards

Final (25 July 1908 — 11:30)

1Forrest SmithsonUSA15.0WR
2Johnny GarrelsUSA15.7est
3Art ShawUSA15.8est
4William RandUSA16.0est