Host City: Stockholm, Sweden
Venue(s): Stockholm Olympic Stadium, Stockholm
Date Started: July 14, 1912
Date Finished: July 15, 1912
This was the first time this event was on the Olympic program. In 1908, a 1,600 metre medley relay (200, 200, 400, 800) had been contested at the London Olympics. The world record for the 4 x 400 relay was 3:18.2 which had been set on 4 September 1911 by the Irish-American Athletic Club of New York.
With four of the five 400 metre finalists, the United States was heavily favored. There were three heats, and the U.S., Great Britain, and France advanced to the final, with Britain posting the fastest qualifying time - 3:19.0.
The final was no contest as the favored Americans shattered the world record, running 3:16.6. Britain was hampered when their lead-off runner, George Nicol, pulled up and limped most of his lap, allowing France to garner the silver medal.
Britain’s third runner was James Soutter. Shortly after the Olympics, in 1913, he forsook track athletics in favor of the gospel ministry and was ordained the minister of the Scots Kirk in Nairobi, the first Scottish minister in Kenya. He returned to Scotland in 1917 and became minister of the parish of Whitekirk and Tynninghame, East Lothian where he served until he retired in 1949. In early August 1966, he oddly disappeared one day, and was never found, being presumed dead on 8 August 1966.