Athletics at the 1904 Summer Olympics – Men's 800 metres

The men's 800 metres was a track and field athletics event held as part of the Athletics at the 1904 Summer Olympics programme. It was the third time the event was held. 13 runners from 3 nations participated. The competition was held on September 1, 1904. The event was won by Jim Lightbody of the United States, the nation's first title in the 800 metres. The United States, with 10 of the 13 runners, swept the medals—the first sweep of the 800 metres podium.

Men's 800 metres
at the Games of the III Olympiad
VenueFrancis Field
DatesSeptember 1
Competitors13 from 3 nations
Winning time1:56.0 OR
1st place, gold medalist(s) Jim Lightbody
 United States
2nd place, silver medalist(s) Howard Valentine
 United States
3rd place, bronze medalist(s) Emil Breitkreutz
 United States
← 1900
1908 →


This was the third appearance of the event, which is one of 12 athletics events to have been held at every Summer Olympics. None of the runners from 1900 returned. There was no clear favorite, "but Jim Lightbody . . . was not one of the prominent names mentioned."[1]

Canada appeared in the event for the first time. The United States and Germany each made their second appearance, matching France, Great Britain, and Hungary for the most among all nations.

Competition formatEdit

In contrast to the previous editions in 1896 and 1900, the 1904 version of the 800 metres consisted of a single round rather than heats and a final.[1]


These were the standing world and Olympic records (in minutes) prior to the 1904 Summer Olympics.

World record   Charles Kilpatrick (USA) 1:53.4 (y)(u) New York City, United States 21 September 1895
Olympic record   David Hall (USA) 1:59.0(*) Paris, France 14 July 1900

(*) This track was 500 metres in circumference.

Jim Lightbody set a new Olympic record with 1:56.0.


Date Time Round
Thursday, 1 September 1904 Final


Cohn led early, with Breitkreutz and Runge behind him. Lightbody started slowest. About halfway, Runge took the lead and Lightbody began to push forward. Breitkreutz took the lead over Runge (who had also run the 800 metres handicap event earlier in the day due to confusion), with Underwood second, before the final straight. Lightbody finished his last-to-first push, winning by 2 yards over Valentine, who also made a late push.[1]

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
  Jim Lightbody   United States 1:56.0 OR
  Howard Valentine   United States 1:56.3
  Emil Breitkreutz   United States 1:56.4
4 George Underwood   United States 1:56.5 Time approximate
5 Johannes Runge   Germany 1:57.1 Time approximate
6 Frank Verner   United States Unknown
7–13 George Bonhag   United States Unknown
Harvey Cohn   United States Unknown
Peter Deer   Canada Unknown
Lacey Hearn   United States Unknown
John J. Joyce   United States Unknown
James Peck   Canada Unknown
Paul Pilgrim   United States Unknown


  1. ^ a b c "800 metres, Men". Olympedia. Retrieved 6 August 2020.