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Athletics at the 1948 London Summer Games:

Men's 1,500 metres

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Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): Empire Stadium, Wembley, London
Date Started: August 4, 1948
Date Finished: August 6, 1948

Gold: SWE Henry Eriksson
Silver: SWE Lennart Strand
Bronze: NED Wim Slijkhuis

Summary

The top milers during World War II were Arne Andersson and Gunder Hägg, both Swedish, but neither was eligible for the 1948 Olympics, having been declared professionals for accepting expense money. The early favorite at London was another Swede, Lennart Strand, who had led the world list in 1947 over both the mile and 1,500 metres, and had been European Champion in 1946. Two of the other favorites were also Swedish, Henry Eriksson and Gösta Bergkvist, who had been 2nd and 3rd in the 1947 1,500 metre list. Eriksson had also finished second at the 1946 European Championships. The Swedes were looking to sweep the medals in the 1,500, despite the absence of Andersson and Hägg.

Started in a cold rain, the final saw Belgium’s Marcel Hansenne take off at a suicidal pace, running 58.3 for the first lap and opening up a big lead. He was caught by the three Swedes shortly after finishing the second lap in the lead. Eriksson took the lead at 1,000 metres, with Strand on his heels. Together they were alone in the lead with 300 metres remaining. Despite his stronger sprint, Strand could never close the gap on Eriksson, although they ran shoulder-to-shoulder until 50 metres from the tape. Eriksson held on to win comfortably in the final straight. Strand barely held off the Dutchman, Wim Slijkhuis, who closed very quickly, passing Bergkvist on the final straight, and preventing a Swedish sweep. Slijkhuis attempted to pass Strand on the inside near the finish but Strand pulled over and bumped Slijkhuis, knocking him briefly off the track.

Although we are quite certain of the above, and of the first six finishers, places 7-12 in the final have been disputed for years and numerous orders of the runners’ finishes have been published. Here are some of the versions that are seen. Volker Kluge, in his monumental series, Olympische Sommerspiele: Die Chronik II, has as follows: 7) Sándor Garay, 8) Erik Jørgensen, 9) Josy Barthel, 10) Don Gehrmann, 11) Marcel Hansenne, 12) Denis Johansson. Ekkehard zur Megede in The Olympic Century has the following: 7) Don Gehrmann, 8) Erik Jørgensen, 9) Denis Johansson, 10) Josy Barthel, 11) Marcel Hansenne, 12) Sándor Garay. Zur Megede appears to have used material from Bob Sparks, late President of the ATFS, who looked at photofinishes of the race. In 1948 Track & Field News published the following results: 7) Erik Jørgensen, 8) Don Gehrmann, 9) Denis Johansson, 10) Josy Barthel, 11) Marcel Hansenne, 12) Sándor Garay. The results we have used are based on information from Richard Hymans, British athletics statistical expert, who has also looked at photos and films of the race, and whose results differ slightly from all the above. We have supplemented this by various descriptions from multiple national sources, including a Swedish radio report of the finish of the race, which definitively gives Garay as placing seventh.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Henry Eriksson 28 Sweden SWE Gold
2 Lennart Strand 27 Sweden SWE Silver
3 Wim Slijkhuis 25 Netherlands NED Bronze
4 Václav Čevona 26 Czechoslovakia TCH
5 Gösta Bergkvist 28 Sweden SWE
6 Bill Nankeville 23 Great Britain GBR
7 Sándor Garay 28 Hungary HUN
8 Don Gehrmann 20 United States USA
9 Erik Jørgensen 28 Denmark DEN
10 Josy Barthel 21 Luxembourg LUX
11 Marcel Hansenne 31 France FRA
12 Denis Johansson 20 Finland FIN
4 h1 r1/2 Frits de Ruijter 31 Netherlands NED
4 h2 r1/2 Jack Hutchins 22 Canada CAN
4 h3 r1/2 Jean Vernier 25 France FRA
4 h4 r1/2 Roland Sink 22 United States USA
5 h1 r1/2 Olavi Luoto 21 Finland FIN
5 h2 r1/2 Doug Wilson 28 Great Britain GBR
5 h3 r1/2 Melchor Palmeiro Argentina ARG
5 h4 r1/2 Kaare Vefling 28 Norway NOR
6 h1 r1/2 Henri Klein 28 France FRA
6 h2 r1/2 Clem Eischen 21 United States USA
6 h3 r1/2 Óskar Jónsson 23 Iceland ISL
6 h4 r1/2 Richard Morris 27 Great Britain GBR
7 h1 r1/2 Cahit Önel 20 Turkey TUR
7 h2 r1/2 Vasilios Mavroidis 21 Greece GRE
7 h3 r1/2 Rıza Maksut İşman 34 Turkey TUR
7 h4 r1/2 Ingvard Nielsen 23 Denmark DEN
8 h1 r1/2 John Joe Barry 22 Ireland IRL
8 h2 r1/2 Juan Adarraga 24 Spain ESP
8 h4 r1/2 Karl-Heinz Hubler 19 Switzerland SUI
9 h1 r1/2 Cliff Salmond Canada CAN
9 h4 r1/2 Lee Yun-Seok South Korea KOR
AC h1 r1/2 Antero Mongrut Peru PER
AC h2 r1/2 Wilfred Tull 30 Trinidad and Tobago TTO
AC h3 r1/2 Bill Parnell 20 Canada CAN