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Athletics at the 1968 Ciudad de México Summer Games:

Men's 1,500 metres

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Host City: Ciudad de México, Mexico
Venue(s): University Olympic Stadium, Ciudad de México
Date Started: October 18, 1968
Date Finished: October 20, 1968

Gold: KEN Kip Keino
Silver: USA Jim Ryun
Bronze: FRG Bodo Tümmler

Summary

Going into 1968 the heavy favorite was considered to be the American Jim Ryun. Ryun had run at the 1964 Olympics while only a high schooler, but since the Tokyo Olympics, he had broken the mile world record, running 3:51.3 on 17 July 1966 at Berkeley, California. Then at the 1967 AAU Meet, he bettered that with 3:51.1. In July 1967 a dual meet between the USA and the British Commonwealth was planned in Los Angeles. Running for the Commonwealth team was Kenya’s Kip Keino, who was felt to be the best miler in the world, after Ryun. At that event, Ryun and Keino raced over 1,500 metres and Ryun shattered the field and world record with 3:33.1, Keino over four seconds behind. Ryun was felt to be unstoppable.

But the Olympics were in 1968, not 1966 or 1967, and they were held at the altitude of Mexico City. Further, early in 1968, Ryun fell ill with a mild case of mononucleosis which affected his training. He trained in Flagstaff, Arizona to try to acclimatize to altitude but his weakness from the mono made that difficult. Still he made the US Olympic team, and he had been so dominant in 1966-67 that he was considered a slight favorite for the 1,500. Ryun and Keino both passed thru to the final, but another important runner was also there, Keino’s Kenyan teammate, Ben Jipcho. Not considered a medal contender, Jipcho and Keino planned a strategic race trying to weaken Ryun’s deadly kick. Jipcho passed 400 metres in a suicidal 56.0 with Keino on his shoulder in 56.6. Ryun ran in third but was well back and the pace was felt to be far too fast for the 2,200 metre altitude. But Keino pushed on, taking the lead at 800 in 1:55.3. Ryun was 30 metres back. Keino ran his third lap in 58.1, passing 1,200 in 2:53.4, faster than world record pace. Nobody could keep up that pace, it was felt, but Ryun and the field were now so far behind that the race was over. Keino held on to win in an Olympic record 3:34.91, considered unreachable in that thin air. Ryun did win the silver medal, 25 metres back.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Kip Keino 28 Kenya KEN Gold OR
2 Jim Ryun 21 United States USA Silver
3 Bodo Tümmler 24 West Germany FRG Bronze
4 Harald Norpoth 26 West Germany FRG
5 John Whetton 27 Great Britain GBR
6 Jacky Boxberger 19 France FRA
7 Henryk Szordykowski 24 Poland POL
8 Josef Odložil 29 Czechoslovakia TCH
9 Tom Von Ruden 24 United States USA
10 Ben Jipcho 25 Kenya KEN
11 André Dehertoghe 27 Belgium BEL
12 Marty Liquori 19 United States USA
7 h1 r2/3 Franco Arese 24 Italy ITA
7 h2 r2/3 Oleg Rayko 23 Soviet Union URS
8 h1 r2/3 Arne Kvalheim 23 Norway NOR
8 h2 r2/3 Ahmed Issa 25 Chad CHA
9 h1 r2/3 John Boulter 27 Great Britain GBR
9 h2 r2/3 Hansrüedi Knill 28 Switzerland SUI
10 h1 r2/3 Edgard Salvé 22 Belgium BEL
10 h2 r2/3 Norm Trerise 21 Canada CAN
11 h1 r2/3 Mikhail Zhelobovsky 22 Soviet Union URS
11 h2 r2/3 Claude Nicolas 27 France FRA
12 h1 r2/3 Hamadi Haddou Morocco MAR
12 h2 r2/3 Arnd Krüger 24 West Germany FRG
AC h2 r2/3 Jorge Grosser 23 Chile CHI
6 h1 r1/3 Dave Bailey 23 Canada CAN
6 h2 r1/3 Renzo Finelli 23 Italy ITA
6 h3 r1/3 José Neri 22 Mexico MEX
6 h4 r1/3 Gianni Del Buono 25 Italy ITA
6 h5 r1/3 Matias Habtemichael 17 Ethiopia ETH
7 h1 r1/3 Róbert Honti 25 Hungary HUN
7 h2 r1/3 Ove Berg 24 Sweden SWE
7 h3 r1/3 Jorge González 23 Spain ESP
7 h4 r1/3 Peter Watson 21 Australia AUS
7 h5 r1/3 Anders Gärderud 22 Sweden SWE
8 h1 r1/3 Rudolf Klaban 30 Austria AUT
8 h2 r1/3 Tom Hansen 20 Denmark DEN
8 h3 r1/3 Ioannis Virvilis 27 Greece GRE
8 h4 r1/3 Maurice Benn 21 Great Britain GBR
8 h5 r1/3 Byron Dyce 20 Jamaica JAM
9 h1 r1/3 Julio Quevedo 28 Guatemala GUA
9 h2 r1/3 Ramasamy Subramaniam 28 Malaysia MAS
9 h3 r1/3 Xaver Frick, Jr. 22 Liechtenstein LIE
9 h4 r1/3 Pekka Vasala 20 Finland FIN
9 h5 r1/3 Jerzy Maluśki 22 Poland POL
10 h1 r1/3 Édouard Sagna 28 Senegal SEN
10 h2 r1/3 Miguel Núñez 20 Dominican Republic DOM
10 h3 r1/3 Alfredo Cubías 22 El Salvador ESA
10 h4 r1/3 Willie Ríos 19 Puerto Rico PUR
10 h5 r1/3 Frank Murphy 21 Ireland IRL
11 h1 r1/3 Emilio Barahona 19 Honduras HON
11 h4 r1/3 Jeff Payne 30 Bermuda BER
11 h5 r1/3 Rudi Simon 22 Belgium BEL
12 h5 r1/3 Arturo Córdoba 19 Honduras HON