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Cycling at the 1948 London Summer Games:

Men's Sprint

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Events:
Phases:

Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): Herne Hill Velodrome, London
Date Started: August 7, 1948
Date Finished: August 9, 1948
Format: Two laps of the track, or 920 metres.

Gold: ITA Mario Ghella
Silver: GBR Reg Harris
Bronze: DEN Axel Schandorff

Summary

The 1947 World Champion was Britain’s Reg Harris and he was considered a heavy favorite, especially in the British press. The Manchester Guardian wrote that he “may well be regarded as almost certain to carry off the Olympic title.” He was helped by the fact that the rider he defeated in the 1947 World final was Holland’s Cor Bijster, who had turned professional in late 1947. For the first time the match sprint was conducted as best two of three races in phases besides the final – from the quarter-finals onwards. All the quarter- and semi-finals were decided in two straight races. Harris defeated Australia’s Charles Bazzano in one semi, while Italy’s Mario Ghella swept Denmark’s Axel Schandorff in the other semi. In the second race of his semi, Ghella had shown his potential with an 11.9 finish, the fastest time of any race in London. The final was not close, but it was not what the British expected. In the first race, Ghella rode away to a five-length victory, when Harris made a tactical error leaving room for the Italian to pass on the inside. Harris eased up when he was beaten, saving himself for the next two races. But that would not happen. The second race saw the same result, the younger Italian easily winning by two lengths to take the gold medal. Schandorff won the bronze by defeating Bazzano in two straight races. A few weeks later, Ghella won the World Championship in the sprint, defeating Schandorff in the final, with Harris placing third, defeating his Olympic tandem partner, Alan Bannister. Harris turned professional and won the World Sprint title in 1949, the first time that was ever won by a néo-pro. He would defend that title in 1950 and 1951, and won again in 1954, and would place second in 1956. Amazingly, in 1974, he came out of retirement and won the British sprint championship.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Mario Ghella 19 Italy ITA Gold
2 Reg Harris 28 Great Britain GBR Silver
3 Axel Schandorff 23 Denmark DEN Bronze
4 Charlie Bazzano 24 Australia AUS
5T Jack Heid 24 United States USA
5T Mario Masanés 20 Chile CHI
5T Leonel Rocca 33 Uruguay URU
5T Emile Van De Velde Belgium BEL
2 h1 r3/6 Julio César León 23 Venezuela VEN
2 h2 r3/6 Jan Hijzelendoorn 19 Netherlands NED
2 h3 r3/6 Jacques Bellenger 20 France FRA
2 h4 r3/6 Erich Welt 20 Austria AUT
2 h5 r3/6 Reinaldo Paseiro 23 Cuba CUB
2 h6 r3/6 Clodomiro Cortoni 25 Argentina ARG
2 h7 r3/6 Jean Roth 24 Switzerland SUI
2 h8 r3/6 Bob Lacourse 21 Canada CAN
2 h1 r2/6 Adolfo Romero Mexico MEX
2 h2 r2/6 Rusi Mulla Feroze India IND
2 h3 r2/6 Muhammad Naqi Mallick 20 Pakistan PAK
2 h4 r2/6 Compton Gonsalves 21 Trinidad and Tobago TTO
2 h5 r2/6 Manthos Kaloudis Greece GRE
3 h5 r2/6 Laddie Lewis Guyana GUY
2 h2 r1/6 Howard Wing 32 China CHN