You Are Here > SR/Olympics > Athletes > Wyndham Halswelle

Wyndham Halswelle

Full name: Wyndham Halswelle
Gender: Male
Born: May 30, 1882 in Mayfair, Greater London, Great Britain
Died: March 31, 1915 in Neuve-Chapelle, Pas-de-Calais, France
Affiliations: Edinburgh Harriers, Edinburgh (GBR)
Country: GBR Great Britain
Sport: Athletics

Medals: 1 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze (3 Total)

Biography

After a notable athletic career at Charterhouse and the RMC, Sandhurst Wyndham Halswelle was commissioned into the Highland Light Infantry in 1901. While the Regiment was in South Africa, Halswelle's ability was noticed by Jimmy Curran, a former professional athlete who later coached at Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania where he guided the great James "Ted" Meredith to Olympic honors in 1912. When the HLI returned to Edinburgh from the Boer War, Curran persuaded his young subaltern to take up the sport in earnest. The results were quick and encouraging and in his first year of serious competition, Halswelle won the 1904 Army 880 yards championship.

In 1905 he turned to quarter-miling and won the AAA and Scottish titles in addition to finishing first in the Scotland vs. Ireland match. The following year, Halswelle won medals in both the 400 and 800 metres at the Olympic Games in Athens and on his return for the British season he won the 100 yards, 220 yards, 440 yards and the 880 yards – all on the same afternoon – at the Scottish Championships. Halswelle also won the 1906 AAA 440 yards title in 48.8 seconds, which was easily his finest performance to date. After winning the 100 yards and 200 yards at the 1907 Scottish Championships, Halswelle broke down in the 440 yards and did not complete again that summer but in the Olympic year of 1908 he soon showed that the setback was behind him. He set a world record of 31.2 seconds for 300 yards and then posted a British 440 yards record of 48.4 seconds before facing the work's best at the Olympic Games. Halswelle had the fastest time in both the heats and the semi-finals and in the final he faced three Americans, John Carpenter, William Robbins and John B. Taylor.

The race was not run in lanes and the starter warned the runners against jostling, but subsequently events were to show that the warning was not heeded. Coming into the home-straight, Halswelle made a move to pass Carpenter who responded by starting on a crab-like course across the track and within 30 metres he had forced Halswelle to within 18 inches of the outside edge of the track. At this point, one of the umpires signaled to the judges to break the tape and after an hour of deliberation a verdict of "No Race" was declared and Carpenter was disqualified. A re-run, in lanes this time, was ordered but Robbins and Taylor, who were both entitled to compete, sided with Carpenter and refused to run, so Halswelle appeared alone and won the 1908 Olympic 400 metre title on a walk-over.

The whole incident soured Halswelle's attitude of the sport and as he was also under pressure from his senior officers, who felt he was being exploited, Halswelle made a farewell appearance at the 1908 Glasgow Rangers Sport and never ran again. At the age of 32, Captain Wyndham Halswelle was killed by a sniper's bullet in France.

Personal Bests: 100y – 10.2 (1907); 100 – 11.1 (1906); 220y – 23.0 (1908); 440y – 48.4 (1908); 880y – 1:59.4 (1905).

Results

Games Age City Sport Event Team NOC Rank Medal
1906 Summer 23 Athina Athletics Men's 100 metres Great Britain GBR 3 h3 r2/3
1906 Summer 23 Athina Athletics Men's 400 metres Great Britain GBR 2 Silver
1906 Summer 23 Athina Athletics Men's 800 metres Great Britain GBR 3 Bronze
1908 Summer 25 London Athletics Men's 400 metres Great Britain GBR 1 Gold

Men's 100 metres

Games Age City Sport Country Phase Unit Rank
1906 Summer 23 Athina Athletics Great Britain Semi-Finals Heat Three 3
1906 Summer 23 Athina Athletics Great Britain Round One Heat Six 2 QU

Men's 400 metres

Games Age City Sport Country Phase Unit Rank MB T
1906 Summer 23 Athina Athletics Great Britain Final 2 4 yds bh
1906 Summer 23 Athina Athletics Great Britain Round One Heat Four 1 QU 54.0
1908 Summer 25 London Athletics Great Britain Re-run Final 1 walkover 50.0
1908 Summer 25 London Athletics Great Britain Original Final 2
1908 Summer 25 London Athletics Great Britain Semi-Finals Heat Two 1 QU/OR 48.8/440y 48.4
1908 Summer 25 London Athletics Great Britain Round One Heat Fifteen 1 QU 49.4

Men's 800 metres

Games Age City Sport Country Phase Unit Rank MB
1906 Summer 23 Athina Athletics Great Britain Final 3 10 yds bh2
1906 Summer 23 Athina Athletics Great Britain Round One Heat Two 2 QU 2 yds bh