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.
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.
|1||Bob Mathias||17||United States||USA||Gold||7,139||6.628|
|3||Floyd Simmons||25||United States||USA||Bronze||6,950||6.531|
|8||Irving Mondschein||24||United States||USA||6,715||6.331|