You Are Here > > > > > Men's 400 metres

Athletics at the 1896 Athina Summer Games:

Men's 400 metres

Athletics at the 1896 Summer Games: Next Summer Games


Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Panathenaic Stadium, Athina
Date Started: April 6, 1896
Date Finished: April 7, 1896

Gold: USA Tom Burke
Silver: USA Herbert Jamison
Bronze: GBR Charles Gmelin
Support us without the ads? Go Ad-Free!


The two best one-lap runners in 1896 were Tom Burke of the United States and Edgar Bredin of Britain. Burke had beaten Bredin at the 1895 [New York AC]-[London AC] meet, but Bredin was the co-holder of the world record with 48.5 for 440 yards. In early 1896, however, as so aptly put by Montague Shearman, Bredin "voluntarily joined the professional ranks, a step which was received with great surprise, as he was a gentleman by birth and education".

The heats of the 400 metres were held on 6 April. The race was slightly over one lap in length, with no lanes to separate the runners. There were two heats with seven runners coming to the start. In heat one, Herbert Jamison (USA) won, defeating Fritz Hofmann and Kurt Doerry of Germany, trailed by France's Alphonse Grisel. There was a false start in this heat, and Hofmann and Grisel were penalized two yards for their indiscretion. The second heat was won by the favorite, Tom Burke, who defeated Britain's Charles Gmelin and Frantz Reichel of France.

The finals followed on the next day, 7 April. Burke won very easily, in 54.2, with Jamison trailing him by as much as 15 metres. Third-place is disputed in later sources, with some listing Gmelin and some Hofmann, but Gmelin definitely finished 3rd per 1896 sources.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Tom Burke 21 United States USA Gold OR
2 Herbert Jamison 20 United States USA Silver
3 Charles Gmelin 23 Great Britain GBR Bronze
4 Fritz Hofmann 24 Germany GER
3 h2 r1/2 Frantz Reichel 25 France FRA
AC h1 r1/2 Alphonse Grisel France FRA
AC h1 r1/2 Kurt Doerry 21 Germany GER