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Luigi Beccali

Full name: Luigi Beccali
Nickname(s): Nini
Gender: Male
Height: 5-6.5 (169 cm)
Weight: 139 lbs (63 kg)
Born: November 19, 1907 in Milano, Milano, Italy
Died: August 29, 1990 in Daytona Beach, Florida, United States
Affiliations: Pro Patria Milano, Milano (ITA)
Country: ITA Italy
Sport: Athletics

Medals: 1 Gold, 1 Bronze (2 Total)

Biography

Luigi Beccali was the first Italian to win an Olympic gold in a track race, and the first to win a European Championship title in Athletics. Coached by Dino Nai, a university veterinary lecturer, and representing Pro Patria Milano, he made his debut at the Amsterdam Games but was only fourth in his 1500 m heat. Although he combined athletics with work, he managed to train twice a day, emulating professional training schedules. "Why do they go so fast today, compared to us 40 years ago?" he told Gazzetta dello Sport in 1974. "Because they train more, or rather, it’s the only thing they do. We also had to work. I had already understood then how things were and I trained more than the others, even secretly. Taking advantage of my job situation (I was a council surveyor, responsible for road maintenance, so I was on the road, unsupervised), I would go to the track and allow myself a few kilometres. Then in the afternoon, at the Giuriati track, I would work on speed." The high point of his career was the Los Angeles Games, coming from behind (last 300 m in 41.7) to take the gold in the 1500 m. A year later, he equalled the World Record winning at the Universiad in Turin in 3:49.2. Just a few days later, on 17 September 1933, he became the sole record holder bettering the record at the Milan Arena to 3:49.0, which remained an Italian record for 23 years. In Berlin 1936 he did not manage to repeat his Los Angeles victory; he was outrun after 500 m and settled into third place behind Jack Lovelock and Glenn Cunningham. He moved to the United States and finished his running career in 1941, then became a wine trader. During his career, Beccali also won a gold (1934) and a bronze (1938) in the 1500 m at the European Championships, as well as 10 Italian titles (eight in the 1500 m, one in the 800 m, one in the 5000 m).

Personal Best: 1500 – 3:49.0 (1933).

Results

Games Age City Sport Event Team NOC Rank Medal
1928 Summer 20 Amsterdam Athletics Men's 1,500 metres Italy ITA 4 h1 r1/2
1932 Summer 24 Los Angeles Athletics Men's 1,500 metres Italy ITA 1 Gold OR
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Athletics Men's 1,500 metres Italy ITA 3 Bronze

Men's 1,500 metres

Games Age City Sport Country Phase Unit Rank T(H)
1928 Summer 20 Amsterdam Athletics Italy Round One Heat One 4
1932 Summer 24 Los Angeles Athletics Italy Final 1 OR 3:51.2
1932 Summer 24 Los Angeles Athletics Italy Round One Heat Three 1 QU 3:59.6
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Athletics Italy Final 3 3:49.2
1936 Summer 28 Berlin Athletics Italy Round One Heat Three 1 QU 3:55.6
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