Athletics at the 1988 Summer Olympics – Men's 800 metres

The men's 800 metres at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea had an entry list of 70 competitors from 53 nations, with nine qualifying heats (70), four second-round races (32) and two semifinals (16), before the final (8) took off on Monday September 26, 1988.[1] The maximum number of athletes per nation had been set at 3 since the 1930 Olympic Congress. The event was won by Paul Ereng of Kenya, the first time a Kenyan runner had won the 800 metres; the nation had previously taken silver in 1968 and bronze in 1964 and 1972. Joaquim Cruz of Brazil failed to defend his 1984 gold, finishing second; the silver medal made him the ninth man to win two medals in the event. Saïd Aouita took bronze, Morocco's first medal in the men's 800 metres.

Men's 800 metres
at the Games of the XXIV Olympiad
VenueOlympic Stadium
Dates23 September 1988 (heats)
24 September 1988 (quarterfinals)
25 September 1888 (semifinals)
26 September 1988 (final)
Competitors70 from 53 nations
Winning time1:43.55
1st place, gold medalist(s) Paul Ereng
2nd place, silver medalist(s) Joaquim Cruz
3rd place, bronze medalist(s) Saïd Aouita
← 1984
1992 →


The final started out as a battle for the pole as José Luiz Barbosa and his teammate Joaquim Cruz led through the first turn, with Nixon Kiprotich in close pursuit. Barbosa was the first across the break line but Kiprotich ran hard down the backstretch to demand the lead. At the beginning of the second turn, Cruz tried to get around Barbosa. He was successful for a moment, the Barbosa accelerated and moved onto challenging position on Kiprotich's shoulder. Coming off the second turn, Barbosa put a finishing move on Kiprotich, but it was only the first lap, Barbosa getting the bell at a fast 49.54. Johnny Gray, known for this kind of destructive first lap was back in a more conservative fifth place, just behind Peter Elliott. Through the third turn, Saïd Aouita came forward from lagging at the back to move into challenging position behind Elliott. Paul Ereng followed Aouita from the back. His head bobbing, Kiprotich strained past Barbosa down the backstretch, but Cruz and Elliott were right with him, the defending champion Cruz continuing and edging ahead in the middle of the final turn. Kiprotich faded while Elliott and Aouita were challenging on Cruz's shoulder. Weaving his way around Barbosa and then Kiprotich, Ereng moved behind Elliott. Coming off the turn, Cruz accelerated, opening a 2-metre gap on his three pursuers, but his departure left a gap between Elliott and the curb, which Ereng gladly raced through. With more speed than the others, Ereng drifted to the outside, passing a helpless Cruz, who could only turn and look at who was passing him. Ereng ran away for gold while Cruz struggled. Further to the outside, Aouita took a run at Elliott, but ran into his elbow. Deterred for a moment, Aouita took a second run at Elliott, edging ahead for bronze, but too far back to catch Cruz for silver.


This was the 21st appearance of the event, which is one of 12 athletics events to have been held at every Summer Olympics. Three finalists from 1984, including the champion, returned: gold medalist Joaquim Cruz of Brazil, fifth-place finisher Donato Sabia of Italy, and seventh-place finisher Johnny Gray of the United States. Saïd Aouita of Morocco was the favorite.[2]

Thirteen nations had never had a competitor in the men's 800 metres before: Andora, Angola, Bangladesh, Bermuda, the People's Republic of China, Chinese Taipei, the Cook Islands, Cyprus, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Qater, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Zaire all appeared in the event for the first time. Great Britain made its 20th appearance, most among all nations, having had no competitors in the event only in the 1904 Games in St. Louis.

Competition formatEdit

The 1988 edition of the men's 800 metres was run over four rounds, a format that appeared only in 1960 before returning in 1984. The "fastest loser" system introduced in 1964 was used for the first round. There were nine first-round heats, each with 7 or 8 athletes; the top three runners in each heat as well as the next five fastest overall advanced to the semifinals. There were four quarterfinals, each of 8 athletes; the top four runners in each advanced to the semifinals. There were two semifinals with 8 athletes each; the top four runners in each semifinal advanced to the eight-man final.[2][3]


Prior to the competition, the existing World and Olympic records were as follows.

World record   Sebastian Coe (GBR) 1:41.73 Florence, Italy 10 June 1981
Olympic record   Joaquim Cruz (BRA) 1:43.00 Los Angeles, United States 6 August 1984

No world or Olympic records were set during the competition.


All times are Korea Standard Time adjusted for daylight savings (UTC+10)

Date Time Round
Friday, 23 September 1988 14:00 Round 1
Saturday, 24 September 1988 15:10 Quarterfinals
Sunday, 25 September 1988 14:50 Semifinals
Monday, 26 September 1988 13:40 Final


Round 1Edit

The first round was held on Friday, 23 September 1988.

Heat 1Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Faouzi Lahbi   Morocco 1:47.82 Q
2 Nixon Kiprotich   Kenya 1:48.68 Q
3 Ryszard Ostrowski   Poland 1:49.04 Q
4 Moussa Fall   Senegal 1:49.14
5 Spyros Spyrou   Cyprus 1:49.84
6 Porfirio Méndez   Paraguay 1:50.72
7 Mansour Al-Baloushi   Oman 1:51.03
8 Yussuf Moli Yesky   Chad 1:57.97

Heat 2Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Babacar Niang   Senegal 1:47.65 Q
2 Steve Cram   Great Britain 1:47.77 Q
3 Donato Sabia   Italy 1:47.84 Q
4 Mohamed Ismail Youssef   Qatar 1:48.20
5 Yu Tae-Gyeong   South Korea 1:48.61
6 Eversley Linley   Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1:51.71
7 Lui Muavesi   Fiji 1:54.48
Haji Bakr Al-Qahtani   Saudi Arabia DSQ

Heat 3Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Johnny Gray   United States 1:48.83 Q
2 Ari Suhonen   Finland 1:48.90 Q
3 Ibrahim Okash   Somalia 1:48.97 Q
4 António Abrantes   Portugal 1:49.01
5 Mauricio Hernández   Mexico 1:49.03
6 Kenneth Dzekedzeke   Malawi 1:50.60
7 Lin Kuang-Liang   Chinese Taipei 1:52.95

Heat 4Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Vladimir Graudyn   Soviet Union 1:48.90 Q
2 Pablo Squella   Chile 1:48.99 Q
3 Alvaro Silva   Portugal 1:49.09 Q
4 Mark Everett   United States 1:49.86
5 Mike Watson   Bermuda 1:50.16
6 Syed Meshaq Rizvi   Pakistan 1:51.58
7 Manlio Molinari   San Marino 1:52.35
8 John Siguria   Papua New Guinea 1:56.12

Heat 5Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Saïd Aouita   Morocco 1:49.67 Q
2 Simon Hoogewerf   Canada 1:49.76 Q
3 Cheikh Tidiane Boye   Senegal 1:49.89 Q
4 Tracy Baskin   United States 1:50.38
5 Ado Maude   Nigeria 1:50.48
6 Eulucane Ndagijimana   Rwanda 1:52.08
7 Maher Abbas   Lebanon 1:53.76
8 David Sawyerr   Sierra Leone 1:57.88

Heat 6Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Peter Braun   West Germany 1:47.32 Q
2 Rob Druppers   Netherlands 1:47.48 Q
3 Tonino Viali   Italy 1:47.74 Q
4 Bobby Gaseitsiwe   Botswana 1:48.08
5 Agberto Guimarães   Brazil 1:48.49
6 Fahmi Abdul Wahab   North Yemen 1:55.24
7 Momodou Bello N'Jie   The Gambia 1:55.57
8 Nimley Twegbe   Liberia 1:58.43

Heat 7Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Peter Elliott   Great Britain 1:46.83 Q
2 Robin van Helden   Netherlands 1:46.99 Q
3 Juma Ndiwa   Kenya 1:47.11 Q
4 Tomás de Teresa   Spain 1:47.32 q
5 Ahmed Bel Kessam   Algeria 1:47.96 q
6 Duan Xiuquan   China 1:52.17
Kazanga Makok   Zaire DSQ
Tommy Asinga   Suriname DSQ

Heat 8Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Paul Ereng   Kenya 1:46.14 Q
2 José Luíz Barbosa   Brazil 1:46.32 Q
3 Slobodan Popović   Yugoslavia 1:46.49 Q
4 Colomán Trabado   Spain 1:46.76 q
5 Paul Osland   Canada 1:47.16 q
6 Mohamed Hossain Milzer   Bangladesh 1:51.16
7 Josep Graells   Andorra 1:53.34

Heat 9Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Joaquim Cruz   Brazil 1:47.16 Q
2 Tom McKean   Great Britain 1:47.24 Q
3 Melford Homela   Zimbabwe 1:47.36 Q
4 Réda Abdenouz   Algeria 1:47.67 q
5 Dale Jones   Antigua and Barbuda 1:49.31
6 João N'Tyamba   Angola 1:53.23
7 Oslen Barr   Guyana 1:55.95
8 William Taramai   Cook Islands 1:58.80


The quarterfinals were held on Saturday, 24 September 1988.

Quarterfinal 1Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Joaquim Cruz   Brazil 1:46.10 Q
2 Paul Ereng   Kenya 1:46.38 Q
3 Cheikh Boyé   Senegal 1:46.62 Q
4 Réda Abdenouz   Algeria 1:46.97 Q
5 Vladimir Graudyn   Soviet Union 1:47.07
6 Paul Osland   Canada 1:48.02
7 Tonino Viali   Italy 1:50.85
Ari Suhonen   Finland DNF

Quarterfinal 2Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Johnny Gray   United States 1:45.96 Q
2 Simon Hoogewerf   Canada 1:45.99 Q
3 José Luiz Barbosa   Brazil 1:46.20 Q
4 Ibrahim Okash   Somalia 1:46.55 Q
5 Rob Druppers   Netherlands 1:46.91
6 Juma Ndiwa   Kenya 1:47.27
7 Faouzi Lahbi   Morocco 1:47.32
Tom McKean   Great Britain 1:46.40 DSQ

Quarterfinal 3Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Saïd Aouita   Morocco 1:45.24 Q
2 Slobodan Popović   Yugoslavia 1:45.30 Q
3 Babacar Niang   Senegal 1:45.38 Q
4 Nixon Kiprotich   Kenya 1:45.68 Q
5 Pablo Squella   Chile 1:46.45
6 Steve Cram   Great Britain 1:46.47
7 Robin van Helden   Netherlands 1:46.61
8 Tomas de Teresa   Spain 1:48.01

Quarterfinal 4Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Donato Sabia   Italy 1:46.58 Q
2 Peter Elliott   Great Britain 1:46.61 Q
3 Alvaro Silva   Portugal 1:46.65 Q
4 Peter Braun   West Germany 1:46.86 Q
5 Ahmed Belkessam   Algeria 1:46.93
6 Ryszard Ostrowski   Poland 1:47.72
7 Colomán Trabado   Spain 1:48.12
8 Melford Homela   Zimbabwe 1:49.62


The semifinals were held on Sunday, 25 September 1988.

Semifinal 1Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Paul Ereng   Kenya 1:44.55 Q
2 Joaquim Cruz   Brazil 1:44.75 Q
3 Donato Sabia   Italy 1:44.90 Q
4 Peter Elliott   Great Britain 1:44.94 Q
5 Babacar Niang   Senegal 1:45.09
6 Slobodan Popović   Yugoslavia 1:45.11
7 Simon Hoogewerf   Canada 1:47.30
8 Peter Braun   West Germany 1:47.43

Semifinal 2Edit

Rank Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 Nixon Kiprotich   Kenya 1:44.71 Q
2 Saïd Aouita   Morocco 1:44.79 Q
3 José Luiz Barbosa   Brazil 1:44.99 Q
4 Johnny Gray   United States 1:45.04 Q
5 Alvaro Silva   Portugal 1:45.12
6 Cheikh Boyé   Senegal 1:45.93
7 Réda Abdenouz   Algeria 1:45.95
8 Ibrahim Okash   Somalia 1:46.62


Rank Athlete Nation Time
  Paul Ereng   Kenya 1:43.55
  Joaquim Cruz   Brazil 1:43.90
  Saïd Aouita   Morocco 1:44.06
4 Peter Elliott   Great Britain 1:44.12
5 Johnny Gray   United States 1:44.80
6 José Luiz Barbosa   Brazil 1:46.39
7 Donato Sabia   Italy 1:48.03
8 Nixon Kiprotich   Kenya 1:49.55

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Athletics at the 1988 Seoul Games: Men's 800 metres". Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b "800 metres, Men". Olympedia. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  3. ^ Official Report, vol. 2, pp. 224–26.

External linksEdit