Athletics at the 1936 Summer Olympics – Men's 800 metres

The men's 800 metres event at the 1936 Summer Olympic Games took place between August 2 and August 4. Forty-two athletes from 23 nations competed.[1] The maximum number of athletes per nation had been set at 3 since the 1930 Olympic Congress. The final was won by American John Woodruff.[2]

Men's 800 metres
at the Games of the XI Olympiad
VenueOlympiastadion: Berlin, Germany
DatesAugust 2 (heats)
August 3 (semifinals)
August 4 (final)
Competitors42 from 23 nations
Winning time1:52.9 WR
1st place, gold medalist(s) John Woodruff
 United States
2nd place, silver medalist(s) Mario Lanzi
3rd place, bronze medalist(s) Phil Edwards
← 1932
1948 →

Woodruff's win broke a streak of four British victories in the 800 metres and started a streak of four American victories. (Great Britain missed the podium entirely.) It was the United States' first title in the event since 1912, and fourth overall. Mario Lanzi's silver was Italy's second medal in the event, after another silver in 1908. Phil Edwards repeated his bronze performance from 1932, becoming the third man to win a second medal in the 800 metres.


With all runners starting from a crouch position, in the middle of the straightaway, the only returning medalist from 1932, Phil Edwards rushed to the lead. Down the backstretch he was joined by John Woodruff. For the second day in a row, the Nazi home crowd was seeing two black North Americans leading a final after Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe winning the 100 metres. Along the home stretch, Kazimierz Kucharski came along the outside, with Brian MacCabe in tow, effectively boxing Woodruff on the rail. Sensing the danger, Woodruff slowed, dropping to sixth place but giving himself free running room. With a long relaxed stride, the tall Woodruff ran around the outside and past Edwards into the lead. Heading into the final turn, Edwards again accelerated into the lead, but Woodruff stayed with him as both separated from Kucharski and Chuck Hornbostel. With the trailers struggling, a path down the rail opened up for Mario Lanzi to run past them on the inside. Through the turn, Edwards was unable to break Woodruff. Coming off the turn, it was Woodruff's long stride that took the advantage over the smaller Edwards. Now it was Edwards who was struggling as Woodruff pulled away with only half the straightaway to the finish. Lanzi seized the opportunity to run past Edwards on the outside, but there was no time to run after Woodruff.


This was the 10th appearance of the event, which is one of 12 athletics events to have been held at every Summer Olympics. Three finalists from 1932 returned: bronze medalist Phil Edwards of Canada (who was also the fourth-place finisher in 1928), sixth-place finisher Chuck Hornbostel of the United States, and seventh-place finisher Jack Powell of Great Britain. Along with Edwards, Rudolf Harbig of Germany and John Woodruff of the United States were the favorites.[1]

Peru and Yugoslavia appeared in the event for the first time. Great Britain and the United States each made their ninth appearance, tied for the most among all nations.

Competition formatEdit

There were again enough competitors to return to the three-round format introduced in 1912 (after a two-round version in 1932). There were six first-round heats, each with between 6 and 8 athletes; the top four runners in each heat advanced to the semifinals. There were three semifinals with 8 athletes each; the top three runners in each semifinal advanced to the nine-man final.[1][3]


These were the standing world and Olympic records (in minutes) prior to the 1936 Summer Olympics.

World record   Ben Eastman (USA) 1:49.8y Princeton, United States 16 June 1934
Olympic record   Tommy Hampson (GBR) 1:49.7 Los Angeles, United States 2 August 1932

No world or Olympic records were set during the competition.


Date Time Round
Sunday, 2 August 1936 16:00 Round 1
Monday, 3 August 1936 17:15 Semifinals
Tuesday, 4 August 1936 17:45 Final


Round 1Edit

The fastest four runners in each of the six heats advanced to the semifinal round.

Heat 1Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Phil Edwards   Canada 1:53.7 Q
2 Chuck Hornbostel   United States 1:53.7 Q
3 Jean Verhaert   Belgium 1:54.3 Q
4 Ferenc Temesvári   Hungary 1:55.0 Q
5 Pierre Hemmer   Luxembourg 1:56.3
6 Rudolf Harbig   Germany 1:56.8
7 Francisco Váldez   Peru Unknown
8 Stavros Velkopoulos   Greece Unknown
Erik Wennberg   Sweden DNS

Heat 2Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Harry Williamson   United States 1:56.2 Q
2 Ab Conway   Canada 1:56.2 Q
3 Pat Boot   New Zealand 1:56.6 Q
4 Emil Hübscher   Austria 1:57.3 Q
5 Emil Goršek   Yugoslavia 1:59.5
6 Carlos Marcenaro   Peru 2:00.8
Abu Al-Yazid El-Halawani   Egypt DNS
René Morel   France DNS
Ossi Teileri   Finland DNS

Heat 3Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Brian MacCabe   Great Britain 1:54.5 Q
2 Raymond Petit   France 1:54.8 Q
3 Hjalmar Johannessen   Norway 1:54.9 Q
4 Ewald Mertens   Germany 1:55.1 Q
5 Clarke Scholtz   South Africa 1:57.6
6 Toshinao Tomie   Japan 1:59.9
7 Stanislav Otáhal   Czechoslovakia Unknown
8 Gyan Bhalla   India Unknown
Fritz Sollberger   Switzerland DNS

Heat 4Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Gerald Backhouse   Australia 1:57.7 Q
2 Miklós Szabó   Hungary 1:57.8 Q
3 John Woodruff   United States 1:58.7 Q
4 Frank Handley   Great Britain 1:58.9 Q
5 Evžen Rošický   Czechoslovakia 1:59.5
6 Paul Martin   Switzerland 2:00.0
7 Charles Stein   Luxembourg Unknown
Francisc Nemeș   Romania DNS
Eric Ny   Sweden DNS

Heat 5Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Jack Powell   Great Britain 1:56.0 Q
2 Mario Lanzi   Italy 1:56.1 Q
3 Franz Eichberger   Austria 1:56.3 Q
4 József Vadas   Hungary 1:56.5 Q
5 Willie Botha   South Africa 1:57.0
6 Grigorios Georgakopoulos   Greece 1:57.3
7 Jack Liddle   Canada Unknown
Miguel Castro   Chile DNS
Luis Pratsmasó   Spain DNS

Heat 6Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Juan Carlos Anderson   Argentina 1:55.1 Q
2 Kazimierz Kucharski   Poland 1:55.7 Q
3 Wolfgang Dessecker   Germany 1:56.0 Q
4 René Soulier   France 1:56.1 Q
5 William Lindeque   South Africa 1:56.4
6 Kumao Aochi   Japan 1:56.8
Jia Lianren   Republic of China DNS
Karlo Nikhazi   Yugoslavia DNS
Enrique Piferrer   Spain DNS


The fastest three runners in each of the three heats advanced to the final round.

Semifinal 1Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 John Woodruff   United States 1:52.7 Q
2 Kazimierz Kucharski   Poland 1:54.7 Q
3 Juan Carlos Anderson   Argentina 1:54.8 Q
4 Miklós Szabó   Hungary 1:55.1
5 Wolfgang Dessecker   Germany 1:55.3
6 Franz Eichberger   Austria 1:56.2
7 Pat Boot   New Zealand Unknown
8 Frank Handley   Great Britain Unknown

Semifinal 2Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Harry Williamson   United States 1:53.1 Q
2 Gerald Backhouse   Australia 1:53.2 Q
3 Phil Edwards   Canada 1:53.2 Q
4 Jack Powell   Great Britain 1:54.8
5 Ewald Mertens   Germany 1:54.9
6 René Soulier   France 1:56.8
7 Emil Hübscher   Austria Unknown
8 József Vadas   Hungary Unknown

Semifinal 3Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Chuck Hornbostel   United States 1:53.2 Q
2 Mario Lanzi   Italy 1:54.1 Q
3 Brian MacCabe   Great Britain 1:55.4 Q
4 Raymond Petit   France 1:55.7
5 Ab Conway   Canada 1:55.9
6 Hjalmar Johannessen   Norway 1:56.0
7 Ferenc Temesvári   Hungary Unknown
8 Jean Verhaert   Belgium Unknown


Rank Athlete Nation Time
  John Woodruff   United States 1:52.9
  Mario Lanzi   Italy 1:53.3
  Phil Edwards   Canada 1:53.6
4 Kazimierz Kucharski   Poland 1:53.8
5 Chuck Hornbostel   United States 1:54.6
6 Harry Williamson   United States 1:55.8
7 Juan Carlos Anderson   Argentina Unknown
8 Gerald Backhouse   Australia Unknown
9 Brian MacCabe   Great Britain Unknown


  1. ^ a b c "800 metres, Men". Olympedia. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Athletics at the 1936 Berlin Summer Games: Men's 800 metres". Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  3. ^ Official Report, pp. 627–29.