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| Event type

1,500 metres, Men

Date29 – 31 July 1976
StatusOlympic
LocationStade olympique, Parc olympique, Montréal, Québec
Participants42 from 28 countries

The 1976 Olympic 1,500 was one of the most eagerly awaited races among track fans. There were two leading contenders, with diametrically different running styles. On 2 February 1974, Tanzania’s Filbert Bayi won the greatest 1,500 run to that date, at the Commonwealth Games. His time of 3:32.16 was a world record, and he needed it to defeat John Walker of New Zealand, who placed second in 3:32.52, also surpassing the previous record. On 17 May 1975, at the International Freedom Games in Jamaica, Bayi then broke the world mile record with 3:51.0, but that mark would not last long. In Göteborg, Sweden, on 12 August, Walker became the first runner to break the 3:50 barrier, winning the mile in 3:49.4. Walker was a solid middle-distance runner with an excellent kick, while Bayi was an almost maniacal front runner who set what seemed to be suicidal paces. The Olympic match-up between them was highly anticipated.

But it never happened. Tanzania joined the African boycott of the Montréal Olympics and Bayi could not compete. In his absence, Walker seemed a cinch for the gold medal. But his 1976 form was not what it had been in 1974-75. He suffered from chronic compartment syndrome in both his lower legs, which would later require surgery, and he had to back off on his training, running shorter distances but of very high quality. Among the nine finalists in Montréal, only Ireland’s Eamonn Coghlan was a top miler, with many of the others being better known as 800 metre runners. The pace was quite slow, with Coghlan leading thru 800 and 1,200 metres in 2:03.15 and 3:01.23. Walker then took off on the backstretch and led out a 300 metre sprint. He quickly took the lead and his anerobic capacity held off the runners to win the gold medal, with Belgium’s Ivo Van Damme adding a silver medal to the one he had earned earlier in the 800. Before the end of the year, Van Damme was killed in a car crash. In his honor, the Ivo Damme Memorial athletics meeting is held annually in Brussels.

PosNrAthleteNOCR1SFFinal
1694John WalkerNZL3:36.87 (1 h3)3:39.65 (1 h1)3:39.17 (1)Gold
2103Ivo Van DammeBEL3:39.93 (2 h4)3:38.75 (3 h2)3:39.27 (2)Silver
3446Paul-Heinz WellmannFRG3:39.86 (1 h4)3:38.99 (5 h2)3:39.33 (3)Bronze
4514Eamonn CoghlanIRL3:39.87 (1 h5)3:38.60 (1 h2)3:39.51 (4)
5357Frank ClementGBR3:37.53 (2 h3)3:38.92 (4 h2)3:39.65 (5)
6970Rick WohlhuterUSA3:39.94 (3 h4)3:38.71 (2 h2)3:40.64 (6)
7371Dave MoorcroftGBR3:40.69 (2 h5)3:39.88 (3 h1)3:40.94 (7)
852Graham CrouchAUS3:37.97 (3 h3)3:39.86 (2 h1)3:41.80 (8)
9508János ZemenHUN3:44.27 (3 h1)3:39.94 (4 h1)3:43.02 (9)
5 h1 r2/3448Thomas WessinghageFRG3:37.93 (2 h2)3:40.06 (5 h1)
6 h1 r2/3375Steve OvettGBR3:37.89 (1 h2)3:40.34 (6 h1)
6 h2 r2/3320Francis GonzalezFRA3:38.59 (5 h3)3:40.73 (6 h2)
7 h1 r2/393Herman MignonBEL3:38.32 (4 h2)3:40.92 (7 h1)
7 h2 r2/3145Paul CraigCAN3:38.00 (4 h3)3:41.02 (7 h2)
8 h1 r2/3749Fernando MamedePOR3:37.98 (3 h2)3:42.59 (8 h1)
8 h2 r2/395Marc NevensBEL3:44.18 (1 h1)3:41.52 (8 h2)
9 h2 r2/3747Hélder de JesusPOR3:44.20 (2 h1)3:47.37 (9 h2)
AC h1 r2/3154Dave HillCAN3:41.24 (3 h5)– (AC h1)
4 h1 r1/3824Åke SvensonSWE3:44.42 (4 h1)
4 h4 r1/3519Niall O'ShaughnessyIRL3:40.12 (4 h4)
4 h5 r1/3416Karl FleschenFRG3:42.09 (4 h5)
5 h1 r1/3487Evert HovingNED3:45.00 (5 h1)
5 h2 r1/3921Mike DurkinUSA3:38.89 (5 h2)
5 h4 r1/3760Antonio ColónPUR3:43.51 (5 h4)
5 h5 r1/3801Rolf GysinSUI3:42.69 (5 h5)
6 h1 r1/3916Matt CentrowitzUSA3:45.02 (6 h1)
6 h2 r1/3779Gheorghe GhipuROU3:39.20 (6 h2)
6 h3 r1/3724Bronisław MalinowskiPOL3:41.67 (6 h3)
6 h4 r1/3816Ulf HögbergSWE3:47.96 (6 h4)
6 h5 r1/3222Luis MedinaCUB3:42.71 (6 h5)
7 h1 r1/3288Antti LoikkanenFIN3:45.32 (7 h1)
7 h2 r1/3631Günther HaslerLIE3:39.34 (7 h2)
7 h3 r1/3526Ágúst ÁsgeirssonISL3:45.47 (7 h3)
7 h4 r1/3174Peter SpirCAN3:59.60 (7 h4)
7 h5 r1/3682Lars Martin KaupangNOR3:44.59 (7 h5)
8 h1 r1/3236Ruben SørensenDEN3:45.39 (8 h1)
8 h2 r1/3286Markku LaineFIN3:45.32 (8 h2)
8 h3 r1/330Sheikr Al-ShabaniKSA4:08.70 (8 h3)
8 h4 r1/3485Emmanuel Saint-HilaireHAI4:23.41 (8 h4)
8 h5 r1/3471Spilios ZakharopoulosGRE3:45.12 (8 h5)
9 h2 r1/3653Francisco MenocalNCA4:12.47 (9 h2)
9 h5 r1/3698Muhammad SiddiquePAK3:45.59 (9 h5)
DNS638Mohamed MakdoufMAR– (DNS h1)
DNS553Carlo GrippoITA– (DNS h4)
DNS812Anders GärderudSWE– (DNS h3)

Round One (29 July 1976 — 16:40)

Top three and next three fastest advanced to the semi-finals.

Heat One

PosNrAthleteNOCTime (A)
195Marc NevensBEL3:44.18Q
2747Hélder de JesusPOR3:44.20Q
3508János ZemenHUN3:44.27Q
4824Åke SvensonSWE3:44.42
5487Evert HovingNED3:45.00
6916Matt CentrowitzUSA3:45.02
7288Antti LoikkanenFIN3:45.32
8236Ruben SørensenDEN3:45.39
DNS638Mohamed MakdoufMAR

Splits

400 m1:02.38
800 m2:06.07
1200 m3:03.72

Heat Two

PosNrAthleteNOCTime (A)
1375Steve OvettGBR3:37.89Q
2448Thomas WessinghageFRG3:37.93Q
3749Fernando MamedePOR3:37.98Q
493Herman MignonBEL3:38.32q
5921Mike DurkinUSA3:38.89
6779Gheorghe GhipuROU3:39.20
7631Günther HaslerLIE3:39.34
8286Markku LaineFIN3:45.32
9653Francisco MenocalNCA4:12.47

Splits

400 m58.15
800 m1:58.94
1200 m2:58.39

Heat Three

PosNrAthleteNOCTime (A)
1694John WalkerNZL3:36.87Q
2357Frank ClementGBR3:37.53Q
352Graham CrouchAUS3:37.97Q
4145Paul CraigCAN3:38.00q
5320Francis GonzalezFRA3:38.59q
6724Bronisław MalinowskiPOL3:41.67
7526Ágúst ÁsgeirssonISL3:45.47
830Sheikr Al-ShabaniKSA4:08.70
DNS812Anders GärderudSWE

Splits

400 m58.90
800 m1:58.35
1200 m2:56.31

Heat Four

PosNrAthleteNOCTime (A)
1446Paul-Heinz WellmannFRG3:39.86Q
2103Ivo Van DammeBEL3:39.93Q
3970Rick WohlhuterUSA3:39.94Q
4519Niall O'ShaughnessyIRL3:40.12
5760Antonio ColónPUR3:43.51
6816Ulf HögbergSWE3:47.96
7174Peter SpirCAN3:59.60
8485Emmanuel Saint-HilaireHAI4:23.41
DNS553Carlo GrippoITA

Splits

400 m1:00.95
800 m2:03.18
1200 m3:00.14

Heat Five

PosNrAthleteNOCTime (A)
1514Eamonn CoghlanIRL3:39.87Q
2371Dave MoorcroftGBR3:40.69Q
3154Dave HillCAN3:41.24Q
4416Karl FleschenFRG3:42.09
5801Rolf GysinSUI3:42.69
6222Luis MedinaCUB3:42.71
7682Lars Martin KaupangNOR3:44.59
8471Spilios ZakharopoulosGRE3:45.12
9698Muhammad SiddiquePAK3:45.59

Splits

400 m59.84
800 m2:01.73
1200 m3:01.13

Semi-Finals (30 July 1976 — 16:20)

Top four in each heat and next fastest advanced to the final.

Heat One

PosNrAthleteNOCTime (A)
1694John WalkerNZL3:39.65Q
252Graham CrouchAUS3:39.86Q
3371Dave MoorcroftGBR3:39.88Q
4508János ZemenHUN3:39.94Q
5448Thomas WessinghageFRG3:40.06
6375Steve OvettGBR3:40.34
793Herman MignonBEL3:40.92
8749Fernando MamedePOR3:42.59
AC154Dave HillCANDNF

Splits

400 m1:02.12
800 m2:01.57
1200 m3:00.55

Heat Two

PosNrAthleteNOCTime (A)
1514Eamonn CoghlanIRL3:38.60Q
2970Rick WohlhuterUSA3:38.71Q
3103Ivo Van DammeBEL3:38.75Q
4357Frank ClementGBR3:38.92Q
5446Paul-Heinz WellmannFRG3:38.99q
6320Francis GonzalezFRA3:40.73
7145Paul CraigCAN3:41.02
895Marc NevensBEL3:41.52
9747Hélder de JesusPOR3:47.37

Splits

400 m1:00.79
800 m1:59.56
1200 m2:58.69

Final (31 July 1976 — 18:00)

PosNrAthleteNOCTime (A)
1694John WalkerNZL3:39.17
2103Ivo Van DammeBEL3:39.27
3446Paul-Heinz WellmannFRG3:39.33
4514Eamonn CoghlanIRL3:39.51
5357Frank ClementGBR3:39.65
6970Rick WohlhuterUSA3:40.64
7371Dave MoorcroftGBR3:40.94
852Graham CrouchAUS3:41.80
9508János ZemenHUN3:43.02

Splits

400 m1:02.48
800 m2:03.15Eamonn Coghlan
1200 m3:01.23Eamonn Coghlan