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Josef Imbach (15 December 1894 – 14 September 1964) was a Swiss sprinter who competed in the Olympic Games in 1920 and 1924. In 1924 he set an unofficial world record for men's 400 metres in the Olympic quarterfinals, but tripped and fell in the final.

Olympic careerEdit

Imbach in 1921

At the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp Imbach represented Switzerland in the 100 m and 200 m dashes and the 4 × 100 m relay, but did not qualify for the final in any of these events.[1]

Four years later in Paris Imbach competed in the 400 m, winning his heat in 51.8 and then his quarter-final in 48.0.[1] The latter time was an Olympic record and an unofficial world record.[2][nb 1] In his semi-final, Imbach placed second to the eventual gold medalist, Eric Liddell, in 48.3.[1] In the final Imbach went out hard, but tripped on the ropes used to separate the lanes, fell and failed to finish.[3][6]

Imbach also ran in the 4 × 100 m relay as part of the Swiss team; Switzerland was disqualified in the final.[1]


  1. ^ The previous Olympic and world record for men's 400 m was 48.2 by Charles Reidpath from the 1912 Olympics;[2][3] however, the world record for the slightly longer 440 yd (402.3 m) race was 47.4 by Ted Meredith.[3] Imbach's 48.0 was the best by a European amateur at either distance (Beauchamp Day, a professional, had run 440 yards in 47.8),[4][5] but although record lists for the metric and imperial distances were kept separately, Imbach's 48.0 was never ratified as either a world record or a European record since Liddell's 47.6 from the final superseded it.[3][4]


  1. ^ a b c d "Josef Imbach Bio, Stats and Results". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b Les Jeux de la VIIIE Olympiade Paris 1924: Rapport Officiel (PDF) (in French). French Olympic Committee. p. 108. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d Jukola, Martti (1935). Huippu-urheilun historia (in Finnish). Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö.
  4. ^ a b García, José María. "Progresión de los Récords de Europa al Aire Libre" (PDF) (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  5. ^ Sparks, Bob (31 December 2002). "European Records Progression (Men)". Archived from the original on 18 February 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  6. ^ Butler, Mark (ed.). IAAF Athletics Statistics Book: Games of the XXX Olympiad London 2012. IAAF Communications Department. p. 69.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)