| Event type

1,500 metres Freestyle, Men

Date21 – 22 July 1980
LocationPlavatelny basseyn, Sportivny kompleks Olimpiysky, Moskva
Participants17 from 11 countries

In 1954 Roger Bannister became the first man to run one mile under four minutes. In the 1,500 freestyle the similar barrier was 15 minutes, or the equivalent of one minute per 100. Although Brian Goodell was close in Montréal, recording 15:02.40, that world record still stood as the Moscow Olympics opened. The clear favorite was Vladimir Salnikov, World Champion in 1978, who would later win the 400 free in Moscow, and it was anticipated that the barrier was in trouble. He had last been defeated in the 1500 by Goodell back in September 1977, had won 21 consecutive 1500 races, had the eight fastest performances since Montréal, and been under 15:10 six times.

Salnikov opened with 58.53, followed by his second 100 in 1:00.74, which was his slowest 100 split of the race. At 1000 metres he was six seconds ahead of Goodell’s pace in his world record. Through 1100 metres he turned in 11:01.15 and the crowd began to roar, Salnikov later stating, “The public’s roar at 1100 metres really helped me. I was still flying the last 100 metres.” His next three 100s were all done in under a minute, but at 1400 he was tantalizingly outside the minute per 100 pace, going through in 14:00.22. Salnikov came home in 58.05 to break through the barrier, recording 14:58.27 for the gold medal, finishing 16 seconds clear of teammate Aleksandr Chayev.

1Vladimir SalnikovURS15:08.25 (1 h3)14:58.27 (1)Gold
2Aleksandr ChayevURS15:20.68 (1 h2)15:14.30 (2)Silver
3Max MetzkerAUS15:21.63 (3 h2)15:14.49 (3)Bronze
4Rainer StrohbachGDR15:17.93 (2 h3)15:15.29 (4)
5Borut PetričYUG15:31.53 (2 h1)15:21.78 (5)
6Rafael EscalasESP15:20.99 (2 h2)15:21.88 (6)
7Zoltán WladárHUN15:31.06 (1 h1)15:26.70 (7)
8Eduard PetrovURS15:32.32 (3 h1)15:28.24 (8)
9Sándor NagyHUN15:34.84 (4 h1)
10Daniel MachekTCH15:39.73 (4 h2)
11Simon GrayGBR15:43.17 (3 h3)
12Darjan PetričYUG15:47.49 (4 h3)
13Andy AstburyGBR15:54.32 (5 h3)
14Djan MadrugaBRA15:56.20 (6 h3)
15Marcelo JucáBRA16:01.11 (5 h1)
16Diego QuirogaECU16:01.41 (6 h1)
17José María LarrañagaPER16:27.90 (7 h3)
DNSKevin WilliamsonIRL– (DNS h1)
DNSAbdelhakim BitatALG– (DNS h2)
DNSIstván KoczkaHUN– (DNS h2)
DNSJean-Marie FrançoisVEN– (DNS h2)

Round One (21 July 1980 — 10:00)

Fastest eight advanced to the final.

Heat One

15Zoltán WladárHUN15:31.06Q
24Borut PetričYUG15:31.53Q
33Eduard PetrovURS15:32.32Q
46Sándor NagyHUN15:34.84
52Marcelo JucáBRA16:01.11
61Diego QuirogaECU16:01.41
DNS7Kevin WilliamsonIRL

Heat Two

14Aleksandr ChayevURS15:20.68Q
25Rafael EscalasESP15:20.99Q
33Max MetzkerAUS15:21.63Q
42Daniel MachekTCH15:39.73
DNS1Abdelhakim BitatALG
DNS6István KoczkaHUN
DNS7Jean-Marie FrançoisVEN

Heat Three

14Vladimir SalnikovURS15:08.25Q
23Rainer StrohbachGDR15:17.93Q
32Simon GrayGBR15:43.17
47Darjan PetričYUG15:47.49
56Andy AstburyGBR15:54.32
65Djan MadrugaBRA15:56.20
71José María LarrañagaPER16:27.90

Final (22 July 1980 — 19:00)

14Vladimir SalnikovURS14:58.27WR
23Aleksandr ChayevURS15:14.30
32Max MetzkerAUS15:14.49
45Rainer StrohbachGDR15:15.29
51Borut PetričYUG15:21.78
66Rafael EscalasESP15:21.88
77Zoltán WladárHUN15:26.70
88Eduard PetrovURS15:28.24