Host City: London, Great Britain
Date Started: July 13, 1908
Date Finished: July 25, 1908
Participants: 431 (431 men and 0 women) from 20 countries
Youngest Participant: Victor Jacquemin (16 years, 130 days)
Oldest Participant: John Flanagan (40 years, 170 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Mel Sheppard and Martin Sheridan (3 medals)
Most Medals (Country): United States (34 medals)
For the first time virtually all the world's best track & field athletes competed at the Olympic Games and 430 athletes from 21 countries took part. The United States won 16 gold medals, Great Britain and her Dominions won 9, and the only other country to win a gold medal was Sweden for whom Eric Lemming won both styles of the javelin.
Stringent qualifying conditions applied and for events up to 1,500 metres and both hurdle races only the winners advanced to the next round. This "sudden death" qualifying system produced some inconsistent results and in a number of cases athletes who would have been comfortable winners of other heats were eliminated. Certainly a system whereby a limited number of fastest losers advanced to the next rounds would have been preferable.
There is no evidence that all the marks in the qualifying round of the throwing events were actually measured. It seems likely that, if it was obviously apparent that a competitor had a better earlier mark, the officials did not bother to measure any subsequent inferior marks. Performances in the field events were measured in both the Imperial and Metric System.
The track was 1/3rd of a mile in circumference - 586 yards, 2 feet (536.45 metres). It was within the huge White City Stadium and was surrounded by the 660-yard cycle track, but surrounded the infield which contained the swimming pool, the area for the field events, wrestling, gymnastics, archery, and football (soccer) matches.