Athletics at the 1896 Summer Olympics – Men's 100 metres

The men's 100 metres race was the first event run at the modern Olympics, on 6 April 1896. It was the shortest race on the Athletics at the 1896 Summer Olympics programme. 21 athletes were entered in the first round, divided into three heats of seven runners, but six of them later withdrew. The top two athletes in each heat advanced to the final, which took place on 10 April.

Men's 100 metres
at the Games of the I Olympiad
100m sprint 1896 Olympics.jpg
100 metres, heat 2
VenuePanathenaic Stadium
Dates6 April (first round)
10 April (final)
Competitors15 from 8 nations
1st, gold medalist(s) Thomas Burke
 United States
2nd, silver medalist(s) Fritz Hofmann
3rd, bronze medalist(s) Alajos Szokolyi
3rd, bronze medalist(s) Francis Lane
 United States
1900 →

15 athletes from 8 nations competed.


This was the standing world record (in seconds) prior to the 1896 Summer Olympics.

World Record 10.8[a]   Luther Cary Paris (FRA) July 4, 1891
  Cecil Lee Brussels (BEL) September 25, 1892
  Étienne De Re Brussels (BEL) August 4, 1893
  L. Atcherley Frankfurt/Main (GER) April 13, 1895
  Harry Beaton Rotterdam (NED) August 28, 1895
  1. ^ unofficial

In the first heat, Francis Lane set the inaugural Olympic Record of 12.2 seconds, tied in Heat 2 by Thomas Curtis. Thomas Burke then ran 11.8 seconds, which stood as the Olympic Record until the 1900 Olympics.



The first round of heats took place on 6 April. The first heat of the 100 metres was the first competition held in the Games. Francis Lane won the first heat, thus becoming the first winner of a modern Olympic race. All heats were won by athletes from the United States.

Heat 1Edit

Rank Name Nation Time Notes
1 Francis Lane   United States 12.2 Q
2 Alajos Szokolyi   Hungary 12.8 Q
3 Charles Gmelin   Great Britain 12.9
4 Alphonse Grisel   France Unknown
5 Kurt Doerry   Germany Unknown

Heat 2Edit

Rank Name Nation Time Notes
1 Thomas Curtis   United States 12.2 Q
2 Alexandros Chalkokondylis   Greece 12.8 Q
3 Launceston Elliot   Great Britain 12.9
4 Eugen Schmidt   Denmark Unknown
5 George Marshall   Great Britain Unknown

Heat 3Edit

Both Burke and Hofmann were more well known for middle-distance events rather than sprinting. Burke's time of 11.8s became the standing Olympic record. It is not clear which athlete received which place between the fourth and fifth finishers.

Rank Name Nation Time Notes
1 Thomas Burke   United States 11.8 Q
2 Fritz Hofmann   Germany 12.6 Q
3 Friedrich Traun   Germany 13.5
4–5 Georgios Gennimatas   Greece Unknown
4–5 Henrik Sjöberg   Sweden Unknown


The final of the 100 metre race, run on 10 April, involved the six runners who had finished in the top two of their preliminary heats. Thomas Curtis withdrew to save himself for the 110 metre hurdles, which was the next race on the program and which he won. Burke beat his companion from the third heat, Hofmann, by two meters. Lane and Szokolyi dead-heated for third place, with Chalkokondylis six inches behind them. Lane and Szokolyi are both considered to be bronze medallists by the International Olympic Committee.

Rank Name Nation Time
  Thomas Burke   United States 12.0
  Fritz Hofmann   Germany 12.2
  Francis Lane   United States 12.6
  Alajos Szokolyi   Hungary 12.6
5 Alexandros Chalkokondylis   Greece 12.6
Thomas Curtis   United States DNS


  • Lampros, S.P.; Polites, N.G.; De Coubertin, Pierre; Philemon, P.J. & Anninos, C. (1897). The Olympic Games: BC 776 – AD 1896. Athens: Charles Beck. (Digitally available at
  • Mallon, Bill & Widlund, Ture (1998). The 1896 Olympic Games. Results for All Competitors in All Events, with Commentary. Jefferson: McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0379-9. (Excerpt available at
  • Smith, Michael Llewellyn (2004). Olympics in Athens 1896. The Invention of the Modern Olympic Games. London: Profile Books. ISBN 1-86197-342-X.
  • Wallechinsky, David (1984). The Complete Book of the Olympics. Crawfordsville, Indiana: R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company. ISBN 0-14-006632-2.