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Athletics at the 1948 London Summer Games:

Men's Decathlon

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Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): Empire Stadium, Wembley, London
Date Started: August 5, 1948
Date Finished: August 6, 1948
Format: Scoring by 1934 point tables.

Gold: USA Bob Mathias
Silver: FRA Ignace Heinrich
Bronze: USA Floyd Simmons

Summary

The level of athletics competition after World War II was down somewhat, as would be expected. The 1948 Olympic decathlon was also affected by the absence of the man who was likely the best in the world in the late 40's – Heino Lipp. Lipp was Estonian but his country had been annexed by the Soviet Union and since the USSR did not compete in the Olympics until 1952, he could not compete at London. In addition, Lipp was labeled by Soviet authorities as a risk to defect and it is likely he would not have been allowed to travel, even if the USSR had sent a team to London. In Lipp's absence the favorite was probably the Frenchman, Ignace Heinrich. The 1948 AAU/Olympic Trials champion had been Bob Mathias, a 17-year-old who had competed in his first decathlon only two weeks before the AAU Meet. He had defeated Floyd "Chunk" Simmons and Irv "Moon" Mondschein, who had been 1-2 at the 1947 AAUs, but Mathias was thought to be too young to contend for the gold medal in London.

The Argentine, Enrique Kistenmacher, led after the first day with Heinrich second. The second day had miserable conditions, with cold, rainy weather present throughout. Mathias took the lead after the discus throw, although in that event, officials had lost the marker on his best throw, and he likely lost several feet, and points, because of that. He held on to win the event from there, with Heinrich placing second when he outran Simmons in the 1,500. Thru 2008, Mathias remains the youngest man to have won an Olympic gold medal in track & field athletics. Though Heino Lipp never was able to compete at the Olympics, when Estonia returned to the Olympics at Barcelona in 1992, he was chosen as the Estonian flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal P(1934T) P(1985T)
1 Bob Mathias 17 United States USA Gold 7,139 6.628
2 Ignace Heinrich 22 France FRA Silver 6,974 6.559
3 Floyd Simmons 25 United States USA Bronze 6,950 6.531
4 Enrique Kistenmacher 25 Argentina ARG 6,929 6.542
5 Erik Andersson 26 Sweden SWE 6,877 6.486
6 Peter Mullins 22 Australia AUS 6,739 6.334
7 Per Eriksson 23 Sweden SWE 6,731 6.391
8 Irving Mondschein 24 United States USA 6,715 6.331
9 Edward Adamczyk 26 Poland POL 6,712 6.336
10 Godtfred Holmvang 30 Norway NOR 6,663 6.324
11 Per Stavem 22 Norway NOR 6,552 6.153
12 Örn Clausen 19 Iceland ISL 6,444 6.110
13 Yrjö Mäkelä 21 Finland FIN 6,421 6.064
14 Pierre Sprécher 26 France FRA 6,401 6.136
15 Kjell Tånnander 21 Sweden SWE 6,325 6.017
16 Wacław Kuźmicki 27 Poland POL 6,153 5.898
17 Hannes Sonck 28 Finland FIN 6,142 5.883
18 Davorin Marčelja 24 Yugoslavia YUG 6,141 5.851
19 Witold Gerutto 35 Poland POL 6,106 5.756
20T Hernán Figueroa 20 Chile CHI 6,026 5.786
20T Hércules Azcune 19 Uruguay URU 6,026 5.781
22 Jacques Crétaine France FRA 5,829 5.604
23 Fritz Nussbaum 24 Switzerland SUI 5,808 5.641
24 Mario Recordón 26 Chile CHI 5,730 5.582
25 Lionel Fournier 31 Canada CAN 5,590 5.453
26 Albert Dayer 22 Belgium BEL 5,586 5.349
27 Oskar Gerber Switzerland SUI 5,558 5.403
28 Sayed Moukhtar Egypt EGY 5,031 5.000
AC Baldev Singh India IND DNF
AC Josef Seger Liechtenstein LIE DNF
AC Oto Rebula 26 Yugoslavia YUG DNF
AC Eduardo Julve 24 Peru PER DNF
AC René Kremer 23 Luxembourg LUX DNF
AC Gebhard Büchel 27 Liechtenstein LIE DNF
AC Armin Scheurer 30 Switzerland SUI DNF