Athletics at the 1920 Summer Olympics – Men's 400 metres hurdles

The men's 400 metres hurdles event was part of the track and field athletics programme at the 1920 Summer Olympics. The competition was held on Sunday, August 15, 1920, and on Monday, August 16, 1920. 19 runners from 9 nations competed.[1] Nations were limited to 4 hurdlers each. The event was won by Frank Loomis of the United States, the fourth consecutive victory (in four appearances of the event) by an American. The United States secured its second sweep in the event, and first with other nations competing (only Americans had run in 1900), with John Norton taking silver and August Desch bronze.

Men's 400 metres hurdles
at the Games of the VII Olympiad
Frank Loomis en finale du 400 mètres haies des JO de 1920.jpg
Frank Loomis in the final
VenueOlympisch Stadion
DatesAugust 15–16
Competitors19 from 9 nations
Winning time54.0 WR
1st place, gold medalist(s) Frank Loomis
 United States
2nd place, silver medalist(s) John Norton
 United States
3rd place, bronze medalist(s) August Desch
 United States
← 1908
1924 →


This was the fourth time the event was held. It had been introduced along with the men's 200 metres hurdles in 1900, with the 200 being dropped after 1904 and the 400 being held through 1908 before being left off the 1912 programme. However, 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.

There was no favorite in the event, which was not a common competition (and had not been held at the previous Games).[2]

Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Finland, South Africa, and Sweden each made their debut in the event. The United States made its fourth appearance, the only nation to have competed at every edition of the event to that point.

Competition formatEdit

As in 1908, 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 centimetres) tall and were placed 35 metres apart beginning 45 metres from the starting line, resulting in a 40 metres home stretch after the last hurdle.

There were 5 quarterfinal heats, with between 2 and 5 athletes each. The top 2 men in each quarterfinal advanced to the semifinals. The 10 semifinalists were divided into 2 semifinals of 5 athletes each, with the top 3 in each semifinal advancing to the 6-man final.[2]


These were the standing world and Olympic records (in seconds) prior to the 1920 Summer Olympics.

World record   John Norton (USA) 54.2 Pasadena, United States 26 June 1920
Olympic record   Charles Bacon (USA) 55.0 London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland 22 July 1908

Frank Loomis set a new world record with 54.0 seconds in the final.


Date Time Round
Sunday, 15 August 1920 11:30
Monday, 16 August 1920 14:30 Final



Quarterfinal 1Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 August Desch   United States 57.6 Q
2 Erik Wilén   Finland 58.4 Q
3 George Gray   Great Britain 58.8
4 František Marek   Czechoslovakia Unknown

Quarterfinal 2Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Wilfrid Kent-Hughes   Australia 57.2 Q
2 Gösta Bladin   Sweden 57.7 Q
3 František Kiehlmann   Czechoslovakia 59.9
Marcel Jarrety   France DNF
Attie van Heerden   South Africa DNF

Quarterfinal 3Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 John Norton   United States 57.6 Q
2 Edward Wheller   Great Britain 58.4 Q
3 Georg Lindström   Sweden 59.1
4 Albert Lucas   France Unknown

Quarterfinal 4Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Carl-Axel Christiernsson   Sweden 56.4 Q
2 Charles Daggs   United States 56.7 Q
3 Valdemar Wickholm   Finland 57.9
Omer Smet   Belgium DNF

Quarterfinal 5Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Frank Loomis   United States 55.8 Q
2 Géo André   France 55.9 Q


Semifinal 1Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 August Desch   United States 55.4 Q
2 Géo André   France 55.5 Q
3 John Norton   United States 56.2 Q
4 Gösta Bladin   Sweden 56.5
5 Wilfrid Kent-Hughes   Australia 56.9

Semifinal 2Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Frank Loomis   United States 55.4 Q
2 Carl-Axel Christiernsson   Sweden 55.7 Q
3 Charles Daggs   United States 55.8 Q
4 Edward Wheller   Great Britain Unknown
5 Erik Wilén   Finland Unknown


The final was held on Monday, August 16, 1920.

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
  Frank Loomis   United States 54.0 WR
  John Norton   United States 54.6
  August Desch   United States 54.7
4 Géo André   France 54.8
5 Carl-Axel Christiernsson   Sweden 55.4
6 Charles Daggs   United States 55.7

Results summaryEdit

Rank Athlete Nation Quarterfinals Semifinals Final Notes
  Frank Loomis   United States 55.8 55.4 54.0 WR
  John Norton   United States 57.6 56.2 54.6
  August Desch   United States 57.6 55.4 54.7
4 Géo André   France 55.9 55.5 54.8
5 Carl-Axel Christiernsson   Sweden 56.4 55.7 55.4
6 Charles Daggs   United States 56.7 55.8 55.7
7 Gösta Bladin   Sweden 57.7 56.5 Did not advance
8 Wilfrid Kent-Hughes   Australia 57.2 56.9
9 Edward Wheller   Great Britain 58.4 Unknown 4th in semifinal
10 Erik Wilén   Finland 58.4 Unknown 5th in semifinal
11 Valdemar Wickholm   Finland 57.9 Did not advance
12 George Gray   Great Britain 58.8
13 Georg Lindström   Sweden 59.1
14 František Kiehlmann   Czechoslovakia 59.9
15 Albert Lucas   France Unknown 4th in quarterfinal
František Marek   Czechoslovakia Unknown 4th in quarterfinal
17 Attie van Heerden   South Africa DNF
Marcel Jarrety   France DNF
Omer Smet   Belgium DNF


  1. ^ "Athletics at the 1920 Antwerp Summer Games: Men's 400 metres Hurdles". Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b "400 metres Hurdles, Men". Olympedia. Retrieved 8 January 2021.

External linksEdit

  • Belgium Olympic Committee (1957). Olympic Games Antwerp 1920: Official Report (in French).
  • Wudarski, Pawel (1999). "Wyniki Igrzysk Olimpijskich" (in Polish). Retrieved 16 August 2007.