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Athletics at the 1968 Ciudad de México Summer Games:

Men's 400 metres

Athletics at the 1968 Summer Games: Previous Summer Games ▪ Next Summer Games


Host City: Ciudad de México, Mexico
Venue(s): University Olympic Stadium, Ciudad de México
Date Started: October 16, 1968
Date Finished: October 18, 1968

Gold: USA Lee Evans
Silver: USA Larry James
Bronze: USA Ron Freeman


The US was dominant in this event in 1968. They had six the fastest 10 men in the world and at the Olympic Trials, both [Lee Evans] and [Larry James] bettered the world record with hand times of 44.0. A US sweep seemed possible, as the third US runner, [Ron Freeman], had recorded 44.6 in the Trials. After the tumult that followed the 200 metre victory ceremony, in which [Tommie Smith] and [John Carlos], were expelled from the Olympics by the US Olympic Committee, Evans wanted to withdraw from the final. But Smith and Carlos convinced Evans to run – they were college teammates at San Jose State. Evans started quickly in the final and expected to have a lead coming to the homestraight. But he was worried when he saw that James was right on his shoulder. He pulled away slightly, but James then closed to only a metre back at the finish, as both lowered the world record with Evans finishing in 43.86 and James in 43.97 – the first time anyone had run under 44 seconds for 400 metres. Freeman completed the US sweep.

Evans' time was officially 43.8, as the official times were only to the tenth of a second in 1968. His automatic time in 1968 was 43.79, but the 1968 automatic times had a built-in 0.05 second delay to allow for response time. This no longer is used, making his actual time 43.84. However, in the early 1970s when the IAAF starting using 1/100ths times for record purposes, they redefined the torso (when crossing the line) to not include the neck, which made Evans' time 43.86 after re-reading the photo finish timer. The mark lasted as a world record until 1988 when [Butch Reynolds] ran 43.29 at the Weltklasse in Zürich.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Lee Evans 21 United States USA Gold WR
2 Larry James 20 United States USA Silver
3 Ron Freeman 21 United States USA Bronze
4 Amadou Gakou 28 Senegal SEN
5 Martin Jellinghaus 23 West Germany FRG
6 Tegegne Bezabeh 27 Ethiopia ETH
7 Andrzej Badeński 25 Poland POL
8 Amos Omolo 31 Uganda UGA
5 h1 r3/4 Sam Bugri 25 Ghana GHA
5 h2 r3/4 Jan Werner 22 Poland POL
6 h1 r3/4 Helmar Müller 29 West Germany FRG
6 h2 r3/4 Munyoro Nyamau 25 Kenya KEN
7 h1 r3/4 Claver Kamanya 21 Tanzania TAN
7 h2 r3/4 Jean-Claude Nallet 21 France FRA
8 h1 r3/4 Wolfgang Müller 25 East Germany GDR
8 h2 r3/4 Ross MacKenzie 22 Canada CAN
5 h1 r2/4 Musa Dogon Yaro 23 Nigeria NGR
5 h2 r2/4 Jan Balachowski 19 Poland POL
5 h3 r2/4 Clifton Forbes 22 Jamaica JAM
5 h4 r2/4 Martin Winbolt-Lewis 21 Great Britain GBR
6 h1 r2/4 Colin Campbell 22 Great Britain GBR
6 h2 r2/4 Rodobaldo Díaz 26 Cuba CUB
6 h3 r2/4 Daniel Rudisha 23 Kenya KEN
6 h4 r2/4 Michael Zerbes 24 East Germany GDR
7 h1 r2/4 Naftali Bon 23 Kenya KEN
7 h2 r2/4 Juan Carlos Dyrzka 27 Argentina ARG
7 h3 r2/4 Gilles Bertould 19 France FRA
7 h4 r2/4 Mamman Makama 21 Nigeria NGR
8 h1 r2/4 Sergio Bello 26 Italy ITA
8 h4 r2/4 Pedro Grajales 28 Colombia COL
3 h1 r1/4 Christian Nicolau 21 France FRA
3 h8 r1/4 Sergio Ottolina 25 Italy ITA
5 h1 r1/4 Manfred Kinder 30 West Germany FRG
5 h2 r1/4 Angelo Hussein Sudan SUD
5 h3 r1/4 Ramon Magariños 20 Spain ESP
5 h4 r1/4 Howard Davies 24 Great Britain GBR
5 h5 r1/4 José Jacinto Hidalgo 25 Venezuela VEN
5 h6 r1/4 Eddy Téllez 24 Cuba CUB
5 h7 r1/4 Don Domansky 22 Canada CAN
5 h8 r1/4 George Simon 25 Trinidad and Tobago TTO
6 h1 r1/4 Ezra Burnham 21 Barbados BAR
6 h2 r1/4 Victor Asirvatham 28 Malaysia MAS
6 h3 r1/4 Anthony Egwunyenga 25 Nigeria NGR
6 h4 r1/4 Jacques Pennewaert 28 Belgium BEL
6 h5 r1/4 Carlos Martínez 23 Cuba CUB
6 h6 r1/4 Noel Carroll 26 Ireland IRL
6 h7 r1/4 Melesio Piña 20 Mexico MEX
6 h8 r1/4 Omar Ghizlat 18 Morocco MAR
7 h3 r1/4 Francisco Menocal 22 Nicaragua NCA
7 h4 r1/4 José Astacio 21 El Salvador ESA
7 h5 r1/4 Tony Harper 29 Bermuda BER
7 h6 r1/4 José L'Oficial 20 Dominican Republic DOM
7 h7 r1/4 Leslie Miller 20 Bahamas BAH
7 h8 r1/4 Kun Min-Mu 26 Chinese Taipei TPE
8 h7 r1/4 Yoyaga Dit Coulibaly 29 Cote d'Ivoire CIV