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400 metres at the Olympics

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Title: 400 metres at the Olympics  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: 4×400 metres relay at the Olympics, 400 metres at the Olympics, 400 metres, Ray Barbuti, Paul Pilgrim
Collection: 400 Metres, 400 Metres at the Olympics, Athletics Events at the Olympics
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400 metres at the Olympics

400 metres
at the Olympic Games
The 2012 Olympic men's 400 m final
Sport Athletics
Gender Men and women
Years held Men: 18962012
Women: 19642012
Olympic record
Men 43.49 Michael Johnson (1996)
Women 48.25 Marie-José Pérec (1996)
Reigning champion
Men  Kirani James (GRN)
Women  Sanya Richards-Ross (USA)

The 400 metres at the Summer Olympics has been contested since the first edition of the multi-sport event. The men's 400 m has been present on the Olympic athletics programme since 1896 but nearly seventy years passed before the introduction of the women's 400 m, which has been held continuously since the 1964 Games. It is the most prestigious 400 m race at elite level. The competition format typically has two qualifying rounds leading to a final race between eight athletes.

The Olympic records for the event were both set in 1996: Michael Johnson holds the men's record of 43.49 seconds and Marie-José Pérec is the women's record holder with 48.25 seconds. The men's world record has been broken several times at the Olympics: in 1912, 1932, 1960, and 1968. Irena Szewińska is the only person to break the women's world record at the competition, doing so in 1976.

Only two athletes have won the event twice: Marie-José Pérec became the first to defend the title in 1996, then Michael Johnson followed with victories in 1996 and 2000. No athlete has won more than three medals. Several medalists in the event have also had success in the 200 metres at the Olympics: Johnson, Perec, Szewińska and Valerie Brisco-Hooks have all won titles at both distances. Athletes chosen for the event almost always form part of their nation's team for the 4×400 metres relay at the Olympics.

The United States is by far the most successful nation in the event, with 21 gold medals and 44 medals in total. The next most successful nation is Great Britain with three gold among its 13 medals. The 1908 men's 400 metres saw the only walkover in Olympic history, as the American finalists refused to compete in a re-run due to British rules.[1]


  • Medal summary 1
    • Men 1.1
      • Multiple medalists 1.1.1
      • Medals by country 1.1.2
    • Women 1.2
      • Multiple medalists 1.2.1
      • Medalists by country 1.2.2
  • Intercalated Games 2
  • Non-canonical Olympic events 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Medal summary


Games Gold Silver Bronze
1896 Athens
 Thomas Burke (USA)  Herbert Jamison (USA)  Charles Gmelin (GBR)
1900 Paris
 Maxie Long (USA)  William Holland (USA)  Ernst Schultz (DEN)
1904 St. Louis
 Harry Hillman (USA)  Frank Waller (USA)  Herman Groman (USA)
1908 London
 Wyndham Halswelle (GBR) None awarded None awarded
1912 Stockholm
 Charles Reidpath (USA)  Hanns Braun (GER)  Edward Lindberg (USA)
1920 Antwerp
 Bevil Rudd (RSA)  Guy Butler (GBR)  Nils Engdahl (SWE)
1924 Paris
 Eric Liddell (GBR)  Horatio Fitch (USA)  Guy Butler (GBR)
1928 Amsterdam
 Ray Barbuti (USA)  James Ball (CAN)  Joachim Büchner (GER)
1932 Los Angeles
 Bill Carr (USA)  Ben Eastman (USA)  Alex Wilson (CAN)
1936 Berlin
 Archie Williams (USA)  Godfrey Brown (GBR)  James LuValle (USA)
1948 London
 Arthur Wint (JAM)  Herb McKenley (JAM)  Mal Whitfield (USA)
1952 Helsinki
)JAM(  Herb McKenley (JAM)  Ollie Matson (USA)
1956 Melbourne
 Charles Jenkins (USA)  Karl-Friedrich Haas (EUA)  Voitto Hellstén (FIN)
 Ardalion Ignatyev (URS)
1960 Rome
 Otis Davis (USA)  Carl Kaufmann (EUA)  Malcolm Spence (RSA)
1964 Tokyo
 Mike Larrabee (USA)  Wendell Mottley (TRI)  Andrzej Badeński (POL)
1968 Mexico City
 Lee Evans (USA)  Larry James (USA)  Ron Freeman (USA)
1972 Munich
 Vincent Matthews (USA)  Wayne Collett (USA)  Julius Sang (KEN)
1976 Montreal
 Alberto Juantorena (CUB)  Fred Newhouse (USA)  Herman Frazier (USA)
1980 Moscow
 Viktor Markin (URS)  Rick Mitchell (AUS)  Frank Schaffer (GDR)
1984 Los Angeles
 Alonzo Babers (USA)  Gabriel Tiacoh (CIV)  Antonio McKay (USA)
1988 Seoul
 Steve Lewis (USA)  Butch Reynolds (USA)  Danny Everett (USA)
1992 Barcelona
 Quincy Watts (USA)  Steve Lewis (USA)  Samson Kitur (KEN)
1996 Atlanta
 Michael Johnson (USA)  Roger Black (GBR)  Davis Kamoga (UGA)
2000 Sydney
 Michael Johnson (USA)  Alvin Harrison (USA)  Greg Haughton (JAM)
2004 Athens
 Jeremy Wariner (USA)  Otis Harris (USA)  Derrick Brew (USA)
2008 Beijing
 LaShawn Merritt (USA)  Jeremy Wariner (USA)  David Neville (USA)
2012 London
 Kirani James (GRN)  Luguelín Santos (DOM)  Lalonde Gordon (TRI)

Multiple medalists

Rank Athlete Nation Olympics Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Johnson, MichaelMichael Johnson  United States (USA) 1996–2000 2 0 0 2
2 Lewis, SteveSteve Lewis  United States (USA) 1988–1992 1 1 0 2
2 Wariner, JeremyJeremy Wariner  United States (USA) 2004–2008 1 1 0 2
4 McKenley, HerbHerb McKenley  Jamaica (JAM) 1948–1952 0 2 0 2
5 Butler, GuyGuy Butler  Great Britain (GBR) 1920–1924 0 1 1 2

Medals by country

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  United States (USA) 19 13 11 38
2  Great Britain (GBR) 2 3 2 7
3  Jamaica (JAM) 2 2 1 5
4=  South Africa (RSA) 1 0 1 2
4=  Soviet Union (URS) 1 0 1 2
6=  Cuba (CUB) 1 0 0 1
6=  Grenada (GRN) 1 0 0 1
8  Germany (GER)[nb] 0 3 1 4
9=  Canada (CAN) 0 1 1 2
9=  Trinidad and Tobago (TRI) 0 1 1 2
11=  Australia (AUS) 0 1 0 1
11=  Ivory Coast (CIV) 0 1 0 1
11=  Dominican Republic (DOM) 0 1 0 1
14  Kenya (KEN) 0 0 2 2
15=  Denmark (DEN) 0 0 1 1
15=  East Germany (GDR) 0 0 1 1
15=  Finland (FIN) 0 0 1 1
15=  Poland (POL) 0 0 1 1
15=  Sweden (SWE) 0 0 1 1
15=  Uganda (UGA) 0 0 1 1


Games Gold Silver Bronze
1964 Tokyo
 Betty Cuthbert (AUS)  Ann Packer (GBR)  Judy Amoore (AUS)
1968 Mexico City
 Colette Besson (FRA)  Lillian Board (GBR)  Natalya Pechonkina (URS)
1972 Munich
 Monika Zehrt (GDR)  Rita Wilden (FRG)  Kathy Hammond (USA)
1976 Montreal
 Irena Szewińska (POL)  Christina Brehmer (GDR)  Ellen Streidt (GDR)
1980 Moscow
 Marita Koch (GDR)  Jarmila Kratochvílová (TCH)  Christina Lathan (GDR)
1984 Los Angeles
 Valerie Brisco-Hooks (USA)  Chandra Cheeseborough (USA)  Kathy Smallwood-Cook (GBR)
1988 Seoul
 Olga Bryzgina (URS)  Petra Müller (GDR)  Olga Nazarova (URS)
1992 Barcelona
 Marie-José Pérec (FRA)  Olga Bryzgina (EUN)  Ximena Restrepo (COL)
1996 Atlanta
 Marie-José Pérec (FRA)  Cathy Freeman (AUS)  Falilat Ogunkoya (NGR)
2000 Sydney
 Cathy Freeman (AUS)  Lorraine Graham (JAM)  Katharine Merry (GBR)
2004 Athens
 Tonique Williams-Darling (BAH)  Ana Guevara (MEX)  Natalya Antyukh (RUS)
2008 Beijing
 Christine Ohuruogu (GBR)  Shericka Williams (JAM)  Sanya Richards (USA)
2012 London
 Sanya Richards-Ross (USA)  Christine Ohuruogu (GBR)  DeeDee Trotter (USA)

Multiple medalists

Rank Athlete Nation Olympics Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Pérec, Marie-JoséMarie-José Pérec  France (FRA) 1992–1996 2 0 0 2
2= Bryzgina, OlgaOlga Bryzgina  Soviet Union (URS)
 Unified Team (EUN)
1988–1992 1 1 0 2
2= Freeman, CathyCathy Freeman  Australia (AUS) 1996–2000 1 1 0 2
2= Ohuruogu, ChristineChristine Ohuruogu  Great Britain (GBR) 2008–2012 1 1 0 2
5 Richards-Ross, SanyaSanya Richards-Ross  United States (USA) 2008–2012 1 0 1 2
6 Lathan, ChristinaChristina Lathan  East Germany (GDR) 1976–1980 0 1 1 2

Medalists by country

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  France (FRA) 3 0 0 3
2  East Germany (GDR) 2 2 2 6
3  United States (USA) 2 1 3 6
4  Australia (AUS) 2 1 1 4
5  Great Britain (GBR) 1 3 2 6
6  Soviet Union (URS) 1 0 2 3
7=  Poland (POL) 1 0 0 1
7=  Bahamas (BAH) 1 0 0 1
9  Jamaica (JAM) 0 2 0 2
10=  Czechoslovakia (TCH) 0 1 0 1
10=  Mexico (MEX) 0 1 0 1
10=  Unified Team (EUN) 0 1 0 1
10=  West Germany (FRG) 0 1 0 1
14=  Colombia (COL) 0 0 1 1
14=  Nigeria (NGR) 0 0 1 1
14=  Russia (RUS) 0 0 1 1

Intercalated Games

The 1906 Intercalated Games were held in Athens and at the time were officially recognised as part of the Olympic Games series, with the intention being to hold a games in Greece in two-year intervals between the internationally-held Olympics. However, this plan never came to fruition and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) later decided not to recognise these games as part of the official Olympic series. Some sports historians continue to treat the results of these games as part of the Olympic canon.[2]

At this event a men's 400 m was held and Paul Pilgrim, a 1904 Olympic gold medalist in the 4-mile team race, won the competition. Wyndham Halswelle, later the 1908 Olympic champion in the 800 metres, was the runner-up while Australia's Nigel Barker was the bronze medalist.[3]

Games Gold Silver Bronze
1906 Athens
 Paul Pilgrim (USA)  Wyndham Halswelle (GBR)  Nigel Barker (AUS)

Non-canonical Olympic events

In addition to the main 1900 Olympic men's 400 metres, a handicap competition was contested seven days after the final. Twenty men entered, with Hungary's Pál Koppán, Germany's Albert Werkmüller and Dave Hall of the United States being the only non-French entrants. Koppán was the victor with a handicap of 35 m, Werkmüller was second with a handicap of 35 m, and Frenchman André Lemonnier took third with a 26 m handicap.[4][5]

Two professionals-only events were also held in 1900. The 400 metres world record holder Edgar Bredin won with a time of 53.2 seconds, ahead of Legrain of France (possibly Paul Legrain) and his compatriot Jules Bouchoux. A handicap professional race was also held but the results have not been located.[5][6]

A handicap John Peck of Canada came third off a six-yard headstart.[5]

These events are no longer considered part of the official Olympic history of the 400 metres or the athletics programme in general. Consequently, medals from these competitions have not been assigned to nations on the all-time medal tables.[5]


Participation and athlete data
  • Athletics Men's 400 metres Medalists. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 2014-02-07.
  • Athletics Women's 400 metres Medalists. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 2014-02-07.
Olympic record progressions
  • Mallon, Bill (2012). TRACK & FIELD ATHLETICS - OLYMPIC RECORD PROGRESSIONS. Track and Field News. Retrieved on 2014-02-07.
  1. ^ London 1908 Olympic Games. Britannica. Retrieved on 2014-05-25.
  2. ^ 1906 Athina Summer Games. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 2014-01-26.
  3. ^ Athletics at the 1906 Athina Summer Games: Men's 400 metres. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 2014-01-26.
  4. ^ Athletics at the 1900 Paris Summer Games: Men's 400 metres, Handicap. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 2014-06-28.
  5. ^ a b c d Handicap Olympic Athletics Events. GBR Athletics. Retrieved on 2014-04-18.
  6. ^ Athletics at the 1900 Paris Summer Games: Men's 400 metres, Professionals. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 2014-06-28.

External links

  • IAAF 400 metres homepage
  • Official Olympics website
  • Olympic athletics records from Track & Field News
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