Filbert Bayi Sanka (born June 23, 1953) is a Tanzanian former middle-distance runner[2] who competed throughout the 1970s. He set the world records for 1500 metres in 1974 and the mile in 1975. His world record in the 1500 m was also the Commonwealth Games record until 2022.

Filbert Bayi
Bayi in 1975
Personal information
Born (1953-06-22) June 22, 1953 (age 71)
Karatu, Arusha Region, Tanganyika Territory
Height1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight59 kg (130 lb)
Country Tanzania
SportAthletics/Track, Mid-distance running
Event(s)800 metres, 1500 metres, mile, 5000 metres, steeplechase
Achievements and titles
Personal bests
Medal record
Representing  Tanzania
Olympic Games
Silver medal – second place 1980 Moscow 3000 m steeplechase
Commonwealth Games
Gold medal – first place 1974 Christchurch 1500 m
Silver medal – second place 1978 Edmonton 1500 m
All-Africa Games
Gold medal – first place 1973 Lagos 1500 m
Gold medal – first place 1978 Algiers 1500 m

Running career


Born in a small village of Karatu, near Arusha, Tanzania, he had to run eight miles every day to and from school as a boy.[3] His greatest moment was arguably the 1500 m final at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand, when he won the gold medal ahead of New Zealand runner John Walker and Kenyan Ben Jipcho. Bayi set a new world record of 3 min 32.16 s, ratified by the IAAF as 3:32.2, and Walker went under the old world record set by Jim Ryun as well. Third place Jipcho, fourth place Rod Dixon, and fifth place Graham Crouch also ran the fourth, fifth, and seventh fastest 1500 m times to that date. It is still classed as one of the greatest 1500 m races of all time. There was no jockeying for position in the race; Bayi led from the beginning in a fast pace and was 20 metres ahead at 800 metres, the other runners strung out in a line behind him.

"Think about the change that occurred in the 1500m at Christchurch. The 1500m was usually a slow race and then a sprint [at the finish]. But in 1974 I changed that from the beginning to the end. And not many people have thought about that."

— Filbert Bayi[4]

In 1975, Bayi broke Ryun's eight-year-old mile record by clocking 3:51.0[5] in Kingston, Jamaica on 17 May. The record was short-lived as Walker became history's first sub-3:50 miler on 12 August of the same year, running 3:49.4 at Gothenburg.

It was hoped that the Bayi-Walker clash would continue but, because Tanzania boycotted the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, it never materialized.[6] However, since Bayi was suffering from a bout of malaria shortly before the Olympics, he may not have been able to challenge Walker even had there been no boycott.

Bayi won a silver medal in the 3000 m steeplechase at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. He ran 8:12.5 behind Bronisław Malinowski.[7]

He won the 1500 m race at the 1973 All-Africa Games, with Kipchoge Keino gaining silver. Bayi successfully defended his title at the 1978 All-Africa Games.

Later life


After retirement Bayi has spent much effort in setting up the Filbert Bayi Foundation which aims to guide young sporting talent in Tanzania. It is based in Mkuza, about 50 km from Dar es Salaam. The complex also aims to educate young people about HIV and AIDS, plus ways of getting out of poverty. The foundation started in 2003. Bayi has also opened a Primary and Nursery school based in Kimara, as well as the Secondary school which is based in Kibaha. The schools have been partnered with Barlby High School as part of the Dreams and Teams project set up by the British Council/Youth Sport Trust. The school hosted students from Barlby High School in January and February 2008.[citation needed] Bayi is also a member of the IAAF Technical Committee[8] and is Secretary-General of the Tanzanian Olympic Committee.[4]

International competitions

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing   Tanzania
1972 Olympic Games Munich, West Germany 46th (h) 1500 m 3:45.4
31st (h) 3000 m s'chase 8:41.4
1973 All-Africa Games Lagos, Nigeria 1st 1500 m 3:37.23
1974 British Commonwealth Games Christchurch, New Zealand 4th 800 m 1:45.32
1st 1500 m 3:32.16
1978 All-Africa Games Algiers, Algeria 1st 1500 m 3:36.21
Commonwealth Games Edmonton, Canada 2nd 1500 m 3:35.59
1980 Olympic Games Moscow, Soviet Union 2nd 3000 m s'chase 8:12.48


  1. ^ a b "Filbert BAYI - Athlete Profile". IAAF.
  2. ^ Moore, Kenny (May 1998). Best Efforts. Cedarwinds. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-915297-10-8. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
  3. ^ Webster, Jim (3 February 1974). "World record to Tanzania". The Sun-Herald. No. 43. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Bayi's record may be gone but it should never be forgotten". HeraldScotland.
  5. ^ milerman, (17 November 2009). "1975 Miracle Mile: Filbert Bayi runs 3:51.0" – via YouTube.
  6. ^ "The Montreal Olympics boycott". Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Filbert Bayi Bio, Stats, and Results" Archived 2013-09-22 at the Wayback Machine. Olympics at
  8. ^ "IAAF: Committees".

Preceded by Men's 1500 m World Record Holder
February 2, 1974 – August 15, 1979
Succeeded by
Men's Mile World Record Holder
May 17, 1975 – August 12, 1975
Succeeded by