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| Event type

400 metres, Men

Date28 – 29 November 1956
StatusOlympic
LocationMelbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Victoria
Participants43 from 23 countries

In 1955, American Lou Jones had set the world record of 45.4 in winning the Pan American Games. But that mark was specious, as it was set at the altitude of Ciudad de México. Still, Jones had won the US Olympic Trials and was favored. He was expected to be pushed by his teammate, Charlie Jenkins, the 1955 AAU Champion, and 1954 European Champion, Ardalion Ignatyev (URS). In the final, Jones was drawn in the outside lane and led by two metres at the 200 mark. But Ignatyev caught him by 300 metres as Jones tied up and was never again a factor. Jenkins had started slowly but had plenty left. He caught Ignatyev with 50 metres left and won by two metres over Germany’s Karl-Friedrich Haas. Ignatyev tied for third with Finland’s Voitto Hellstén. The final time (46.7 for Jenkins) was slow, but the day was windy and the final and semi-finals were held on the same day, for the last time at the Olympics.

PosNrAthleteNOCR1QFSFFinal
1116Charlie JenkinsUSA48.7 (3 h3)47.5 (3 h4)46.1 (1 h2)46.7 (1)Gold
268Karl-Friedrich HaasGER47.2 (1 h5)47.3 (2 h4)46.2 (3 h2)46.8 (2)Silver
=393Voitto HellsténFIN48.4 (1 h4)46.8 (1 h3)46.1 (2 h2)47.0 (=3)Bronze
=3119Ardalion IgnatyevURS48.6 (1 h6)46.8 (1 h2)46.8 (1 h1)47.0 (=3)Bronze
5117Lou JonesUSA48.1 (1 h1)47.4 (1 h1)47.3 (3 h1)48.1 (5)
6114Malcolm SpenceRSA47.7 (1 h3)47.1 (2 h3)47.2 (2 h1)48.3 (6)
4 h1 r3/478Mel SpenceJAM47.9 (2 h8)47.3 (3 h3)47.5 (4 h1)
4 h2 r3/489Kevan GosperAUS48.0 (1 h7)46.7 (1 h4)46.2 (4 h2)
5 h1 r3/499Peter HigginsGBR47.9 (1 h8)47.4 (3 h2)47.7 (5 h1)
5 h2 r3/4100John SalisburyGBR47.7 (3 h5)47.4 (2 h1)47.3 (5 h2)
6 h1 r3/483Iván RodríguezPUR48.8 (3 h7)47.5 (3 h1)47.7 (6 h1)
6 h2 r3/477Mal SpenceJAM48.2 (2 h7)47.4 (2 h2)47.4 (6 h2)
4 h1 r2/492Terry TobaccoCAN47.9 (1 h2)47.7 (4 h1)
4 h2 r2/460Graham GipsonAUS47.7 (2 h5)47.4 (4 h2)
4 h3 r2/495Pierre HaarhoffFRA49.8 (3 h6)47.6 (4 h3)
4 h4 r2/4103George KerrJAM49.7 (2 h6)47.7 (4 h4)
5 h1 r2/497Jürgen KühlGER48.7 (2 h3)48.0 (5 h1)
5 h2 r2/494Jacques DegatsFRA48.3 (2 h2)48.7 (5 h2)
5 h3 r2/4118Jim LeaUSA48.3 (3 h2)48.1 (5 h3)
5 h4 r2/4101Mike WheelerGBR49.3 (2 h4)47.9 (5 h4)
6 h2 r2/490Murray CockburnCAN49.0 (2 h1)49.5 (6 h2)
6 h3 r2/4105Kibet BoitKEN49.3 (3 h4)49.1 (6 h3)
6 h4 r2/496Jean-Paul Martin du GardFRA48.3 (3 h8)48.2 (6 h4)
3 h1 r1/4111Abdullah KhanPAK49.0 (3 h1)– (DNS h1)
4 h1 r1/4121Konstantin GrachovURS49.4 (4 h1)
4 h2 r1/4104Bartonjo RotichKEN48.8 (4 h2)
4 h3 r1/4301Abebe HailouETH49.0 (4 h3)
4 h4 r1/491Laird SloanCAN50.0 (4 h4)
4 h5 r1/471Milkha SinghIND48.9 (4 h5)
4 h6 r1/4646Kamau WanyokeKEN50.6 (4 h6)
4 h7 r1/4106Gérard RasquinLUX50.6 (4 h7)
4 h8 r1/4629John GoodmanAUS48.5 (4 h8)
5 h1 r1/4302Beyene LegesseETH50.7 (5 h1)
5 h2 r1/4675Jaime AparicioCOL49.0 (5 h2)
5 h3 r1/4110Abdul Karim AmuNGR49.4 (5 h3)
5 h4 r1/4115Somsak Thonf Ar-RamTHA53.4 (5 h4)
5 h7 r1/4107Abdul Rahim bin AhmedMAL50.8 (5 h7)
5 h8 r1/4303Ajanew BayeneETH51.3 (5 h8)
6 h2 r1/4271Pablo SomblingoPHI49.4 (6 h2)
6 h7 r1/4668George JohnsonLBR54.8 (6 h7)
7 h2 r1/4109Kenneth PereraMAL– (7 h2)
AC h1 r1/479Kanji AkagiJPN48.4 (AC h1)
AC h8 r1/498Horst MannGER– (AC h8)
DNS695Joseph NarmahLBR– (DNS h3)
DNS677Ruben GuevaraCOL– (DNS h5)
DNS122Yury BashlikovURS– (DNS h5)
DNS678Alfonso MuñozCOL– (DNS h4)
DNS108Manikavagasam HarichandraMAL– (DNS h5)
DNS113Ilie SavelROU– (DNS h6)
DNS85René WeberSUI– (DNS h6)
DNS623Václav JanečekTCH– (DNS h6)
DNS625Jaroslav JirásekTCH– (DNS h3)
DNS624Josef TrousilTCH– (DNS h7)
DNS50Mike AgostiniTTO– (DNS h1)
DNS51Joe GoddardTTO– (DNS h4)
DNS52Edmund TurtonTTO– (DNS h8)

Round One (28 November 1956 — 15:00)

Top three in each heat advanced to the quarter-finals.

Heat One

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
12Lou JonesUSA48.148.30Q
27Murray CockburnCAN49.049.07Q
34Abdullah KhanPAK49.049.19Q
41Konstantin GrachovURS49.449.58
53Beyene LegesseETH50.750.83
AC5Kanji AkagiJPN48.448.54DQ
DNS6Mike AgostiniTTO

Heat Two

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
17Terry TobaccoCAN47.947.92Q
25Jacques DegatsFRA48.348.32Q
32Jim LeaUSA48.348.41Q
41Bartonjo RotichKEN48.848.90
53Jaime AparicioCOL49.049.14
66Pablo SomblingoPHI49.449.50
74Kenneth PereraMAL51.96

Heat Three

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
14Malcolm SpenceRSA47.747.77Q
21Jürgen KühlGER48.748.74Q
36Charlie JenkinsUSA48.748.82Q
47Abebe HailouETH49.049.18
52Abdul Karim AmuNGR49.449.57
DNS5Joseph NarmahLBR
DNS3Jaroslav JirásekTCH

Heat Four

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
13Voitto HellsténFIN48.448.52Q
21Mike WheelerGBR49.349.37Q
35Kibet BoitKEN49.349.48Q
46Laird SloanCAN50.050.18
54Somsak Thonf Ar-RamTHA53.453.61
DNS7Alfonso MuñozCOL
DNS2Joe GoddardTTO

Heat Five

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
15Karl-Friedrich HaasGER47.247.29Q
21Graham GipsonAUS47.747.87Q
34John SalisburyGBR47.747.95Q
46Milkha SinghIND48.949.07
DNS3Ruben GuevaraCOL
DNS7Yury BashlikovURS
DNS2Manikavagasam HarichandraMAL

Heat Six

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
12Ardalion IgnatyevURS48.648.69Q
25George KerrJAM49.749.74Q
37Pierre HaarhoffFRA49.849.99Q
46Kamau WanyokeKEN50.650.74
DNS3Ilie SavelROU
DNS1René WeberSUI
DNS4Václav JanečekTCH

Heat Seven

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
14Kevan GosperAUS48.048.07Q
26Mal SpenceJAM48.248.31Q
37Iván RodríguezPUR48.848.86Q
43Gérard RasquinLUX50.650.76
52Abdul Rahim bin AhmedMAL50.850.93
61George JohnsonLBR54.8
DNS5Josef TrousilTCH

Heat Eight

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
13Peter HigginsGBR47.947.98Q
21Mel SpenceJAM47.948.00Q
35Jean-Paul Martin du GardFRA48.348.39Q
47John GoodmanAUS48.548.73
54Ajanew BayeneETH51.351.53
AC2Horst MannGERDNF
DNS6Edmund TurtonTTO

Quarter-Finals (28 November 1956 — 17:35)

Top three in each heat advanced to the semi-finals.

Heat One

PosNrAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
1117Lou JonesUSA47.447.42Q
2100John SalisburyGBR47.447.60Q
383Iván RodríguezPUR47.547.64Q
492Terry TobaccoCAN47.747.79
597Jürgen KühlGER48.048.23
DNS111Abdullah KhanPAK

Heat Two

PosNrAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
1119Ardalion IgnatyevURS46.846.88Q
277Mal SpenceJAM47.447.42Q
399Peter HigginsGBR47.447.43Q
460Graham GipsonAUS47.447.45
594Jacques DegatsFRA48.748.79
690Murray CockburnCAN49.549.74

Heat Three

PosNrAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
193Voitto HellsténFIN46.846.85Q
2114Malcolm SpenceRSA47.147.08Q
378Mel SpenceJAM47.347.38Q
495Pierre HaarhoffFRA47.647.82
5118Jim LeaUSA48.148.33
6105Kibet BoitKEN49.149.18

Heat Four

PosNrAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
189Kevan GosperAUS46.746.83Q
268Karl-Friedrich HaasGER47.347.37Q
3116Charlie JenkinsUSA47.547.63Q
4103George KerrJAM47.747.79
5101Mike WheelerGBR47.948.05
696Jean-Paul Martin du GardFRA48.248.37

Semi-Finals (29 November 1956 — 15:00)

Top three in each heat advanced to the final.

Heat One

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
11Ardalion IgnatyevURS46.846.93Q
23Malcolm SpenceRSA47.247.27Q
32Lou JonesUSA47.347.32Q
46Mel SpenceJAM47.547.58
55Peter HigginsGBR47.747.65
64Iván RodríguezPUR47.747.86

Heat Two

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
11Charlie JenkinsUSA46.146.19Q
26Voitto HellsténFIN46.146.20Q
35Karl-Friedrich HaasGER46.246.29Q
44Kevan GosperAUS46.246.45
53John SalisburyGBR47.347.47
62Mal SpenceJAM47.447.52

Final (29 November 1956 — 17:30)

PosLaneAthleteNOCTime (H)Time (A)
14Charlie JenkinsUSA46.746.86
25Karl-Friedrich HaasGER46.847.12
=33Voitto HellsténFIN47.047.15
=32Ardalion IgnatyevURS47.047.15
56Lou JonesUSA48.148.35
61Malcolm SpenceRSA48.348.40