Athletics at the 1908 Summer Olympics – Men's 400 metres hurdles

The men's 400 metres hurdles was the longer of two hurdling events at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London. It was the third time the event had been featured at the Olympics. The Olympic record was beat three times in the course of the Games. The competition was held from Monday, July 20, 1908, to Wednesday, July 22, 1908. 15 runners from six nations competed.[1] NOCs could enter up to 12 athletes.[2] The event was won by Charles Bacon of the United States, defeating teammate and defending champion Harry Hillman by 0.3 seconds in the final. It was the third gold medal in three Games for the American team in the event. Hillman was the first man to earn multiple medals in the 400 metres hurdles. Jimmy Tremeer of Great Britain earned bronze, the first medal for the nation in the men's 400 metres hurdles.

Men's 400 metres hurdles
at the Games of the IV Olympiad
1908 Charles Bacon and Harry Hillman.JPG
Charles Bacon and Harry Hillman in the final.
VenueWhite City Stadium
DatesJuly 20 (quarterfinals)
July 21 (semifinals)
July 22 (final)
Competitors15 from 6 nations
Winning time55.0 WR
Medalists
1st place, gold medalist(s) Charles Bacon
 United States
2nd place, silver medalist(s) Harry Hillman
 United States
3rd place, bronze medalist(s) Jimmy Tremeer
 Great Britain
← 1904
1920 →

BackgroundEdit

This was the third time the event was held. Introduced along with the men's 200 metres hurdles in 1900, the men's 400 metres hurdles was still on the program while the 200 was not. The 400 metres version would be held in 1900, 1904, and 1908 before being left off for one Games in 1912; when the Olympics returned after World War I, the men's 400 metres hurdles was back and would continue to be contested at every Games thereafter. One of the four hurdlers from the 1904 Games returned: gold medalist Harry Hillman of the United States.[3]

Australasia, Great Britain, Hungary, and the Netherlands each made their debut in the event. The United States made its third appearance, the only nation to have competed at every edition of the event to that point.

Competition formatEdit

The competition consisted of three rounds: quarterfinals, semifinals, and a final. Ten sets of hurdles were set on the course. The hurdles were 3 feet (= 91.5 centimetre) tall and were placed 35 metres apart beginning 45 metres from the starting line.[4]

There were 12 quarterfinal heats scheduled, but only 11 actually were contested as one heat had no starters. There were only one or two hurdlers in each quarterfinal heat. The winner advanced in the 4 heats that had two runners. The 11 men who advanced were divided into four semifinal heats of 2 or 3 hurdlers each; again, only the fastest man advanced. The final had 4 competitors.[3]

RecordsEdit

These were the standing world and Olympic records (in seconds) prior to the 1908 Summer Olympics.

World record   Charles Bacon (USA) 55.8* Philadelphia, United States 6 July 1908
Olympic record   Walter Tewksbury (USA) 57.6** Paris, France 15 July 1900

* unofficial

** This track was 500 metres in circumference.

Harry Hillman had run 53.0 seconds in 1904 but he knocked over a hurdle and the hurdles were only 30 inches (76 cm) high.

In the first round Charles Bacon set a new Olympic record with 57.0 seconds. In the second round Hillman set a new record with 56.4 seconds. In the final Bacon set a new world record with 55.0 seconds. This record became the first official world record for the 400 metres hurdles.

ScheduleEdit

Date Time Round
Monday, 20 July 1908 16:45 Quarterfinals
Tuesday, 21 July 1908 16:00 Semifinals
Wednesday, 22 July 1908 15:30 Final

ResultsEdit

QuarterfinalsEdit

Quarterfinal 1Edit

There was no competition for Koops in the first heat.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Evert Koops   Netherlands walkover Q

Quarterfinal 2Edit

A tight race from start to finish, Coe won by about a metre.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Harry Coe   United States 58.8 Q
2 John Densham   Great Britain 59.0

Quarterfinal 3Edit

Bacon won easily, breaking Godfrey Shaw's 440 yards world record.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Charles Bacon   United States 57.0 Q, OR
2 Henry St Aubyn Murray   Australasia 59.8

Quarterfinal 4Edit

There was no competition for Harmer in the fourth heat.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Frederick Harmer   Great Britain walkover Q

Quarterfinal 5Edit

There was no competition for Burton in the fifth heat.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Geoffrey Burton   Great Britain walkover Q

Quarterfinal 6Edit

Dubois pulled up lame three-quarters of the way through the race, leaving Hillman with the win.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Harry Hillman   United States 59.2 Q
Georges Dubois   France DNF

Quarterfinal 7Edit

There was no competition for Groenings in the seventh heat.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Oswald Groenings   Great Britain walkover Q

Quarterfinal 8Edit

There was no competition for Gould in the eighth heat.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Wyatt Gould   Great Britain walkover Q

Quarterfinal 9Edit

There was no competition for Kovacs in the ninth heat.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Nándor Kovács   Hungary walkover Q

Quarterfinal 10Edit

There was no competition for Tremeer in the tenth heat.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Jimmy Tremeer   Great Britain walkover Q

Quarterfinal 11Edit

The eleventh heat was cancelled as there were no starters.

Quarterfinal 12Edit

In only the fourth actual race of the first round, and the third in which both runners finished, Burton won in the straight.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Leslie Burton   Great Britain 1:00.4 Q
2 Henri Meslot   France 1:01.0

SemifinalsEdit

Semifinal 1Edit

Koops fell; Hillman won easily, breaking Bacon's record that was set in the first round.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Harry Hillman   United States 56.4 Q, OR
2 Harry Coe   United States 57.0
Evert Koops   Netherlands DNF

Semifinal 2Edit

Bacon started off fast, and the other two runners dropped out at 200m.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Charles Bacon   United States 58.8 Q
Oswald Groenings   Great Britain DNF
Nándor Kovács   Hungary DNF

Semifinal 3Edit

Burton led after the hurdles, and won despite losing ground in the straight.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Leslie Burton   Great Britain 59.8 Q
2 Frederick Harmer   Great Britain 1:00.3
3 Wyatt Gould   Great Britain Unknown

Semifinal 4Edit

Burton retired, allowing Tremeer to win with a jog.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Jimmy Tremeer   Great Britain 1:00.6 Q
Geoffrey Burton   Great Britain DNF

FinalEdit

The final was held on Wednesday, July 22, 1908. Halfway into the race, it was clear that the only question was which American would win. Bacon and Hillman were even all the way until the straight, with Bacon just barely pulling ahead to win by two yards, as both of the Americans came in under the world record set by Hillman in the second round.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
  Charles Bacon   United States 55.0 WR
  Harry Hillman   United States 55.3
  Jimmy Tremeer   Great Britain 57.0
4 Leslie Burton   Great Britain 58.0

Results summaryEdit

Rank Athlete Nation Quarterfinals Semifinals Final Notes
  Charles Bacon   United States 57.0 58.8 55.0 WR
  Harry Hillman   United States 59.2 56.4 55.3
  Jimmy Tremeer   Great Britain Bye 1:00.6 57.0
4 Leslie Burton   Great Britain 1:00.4 59.8 58.0
5 Harry Coe   United States 58.8 57.0 Did not advance
6 Frederick Harmer   Great Britain Bye 1:00.3
7 Wyatt Gould   Great Britain Bye Unknown
8 Geoffrey Burton   Great Britain Bye DNF
Oswald Groenings   Great Britain Bye DNF
Evert Koops   Netherlands Bye DNF
Nándor Kovács   Hungary Bye DNF
12 John Densham   Great Britain 59.0 Did not advance
13 Henry St Aubyn Murray   Australasia 59.8
14 Henri Meslot   France 1:01.0
15 Georges Dubois   France DNF

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Athletics at the 1908 London Summer Games: Men's 400 metres Hurdles". sports-reference.com. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  2. ^ Official report, p. 32.
  3. ^ a b "400 metres Hurdles, Men". Olympedia. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  4. ^ Official Report, p. 62.

External linksEdit