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Athletics at the 1972 München Summer Games:

Men's 5,000 metres

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Host City: München, West Germany
Venue(s): Olympic Stadium, Olympic Park, München
Date Started: September 7, 1972
Date Finished: September 10, 1972

Gold: FIN Lasse Virén
Silver: TUN Mohamad Gammoudi
Bronze: GBR Ian Stewart

Summary

The 1971 European Champion was Finland’s Juha Väätäinen, who also won the 10K at that meet, the first dominant distance runner since the 1940s. But in the Olympic year, the best times had been posted by his countryman Lasse Virén. Väätäinen would compete in the 5,000 final but finish only 13th. Ethiopia’s Miruts Yifter was a contender but missed his heat when he mistook an entry gate and could not get into the stadium for the race. America’s Steve Prefontaine was expected to challenge and was a media favorite, because of brash predictions and front-running tactics. He vowed he would win the gold medal and would run the final mile under four minutes in doing so. The final was started at a slow pace. But with four laps remaining Pre began to follow his prediction, moving to the lead and pushing the pace dramatically. He ran the next three laps in 62.8, 61.0, and 60.4 and dropped everybody but Virén and the defending champion, Mohamed Gammoudi. Virén took the lead right at the bell lapand held off Gammoudi on the backstretch, pulling away to win fairly easily, running his last 400 in 56.0. As Pre had predicted, the final mile was run almost exactly in 4 minutes. But he had nothing left in the stretch and was passed at the last minute by Britain’s Ian Stewart, who won the bronze medal, Pre finishing in fourth. Over the next three years, Pre established himself as America’s greatest ever distance runner on the track, and would likely have challenged for a gold medal in Montréal. But in May 1975, coming home from a party, he overturned his sports car and was killed when he was crushed beneath it. Virén completed the 5K/10K double in München, having won the 10,000 a few days earlier.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Lasse Virén 23 Finland FIN Gold OR
2 Mohamad Gammoudi 34 Tunisia TUN Silver
3 Ian Stewart 23 Great Britain GBR Bronze
4 Steve Prefontaine 21 United States USA
5 Miel Puttemans 24 Belgium BEL
6 Harald Norpoth 30 West Germany FRG
7 Per Halle 23 Norway NOR
8 Nikolay Sviridov 34 Soviet Union URS
9 Frank Eisenberg 28 East Germany GDR
10 Javier Álvarez 28 Spain ESP
11 Ian McCafferty 27 Great Britain GBR
12 Dave Bedford 22 Great Britain GBR
13 Juha Väätäinen 31 Finland FIN
AC Mariano Haro 32 Spain ESP
3 h1 r1/2 Ben Jipcho 29 Kenya KEN
3 h5 r1/2 Josef Jánský 31 Czechoslovakia TCH
4 h1 r1/2 Anders Gärderud 25 Sweden SWE
4 h3 r1/2 Dušan Moravčík 24 Czechoslovakia TCH
4 h4 r1/2 Tolossa Kotu 19 Ethiopia ETH
4 h5 r1/2 George Young 35 United States USA
5 h1 r1/2 Mike Keogh 21 Ireland IRL
5 h2 r1/2 Grant McLaren 24 Canada CAN
5 h3 r1/2 Paul Mose 23 Kenya KEN
5 h4 r1/2 Willy Polleunis 24 Belgium BEL
5 h5 r1/2 Edmundo Warnke 21 Chile CHI
6 h1 r1/2 René Goris 26 Belgium BEL
6 h2 r1/2 Pedro Miranda 24 Mexico MEX
6 h3 r1/2 Tapio Kantanen 23 Finland FIN
6 h4 r1/2 Nikolay Puklakov 27 Soviet Union URS
6 h5 r1/2 Bob Finlay 29 Canada CAN
7 h1 r1/2 Arne Risa 28 Norway NOR
7 h2 r1/2 Vladimir Afonin 24 Soviet Union URS
7 h3 r1/2 Tony Benson 30 Australia AUS
7 h4 r1/2 Mario Pérez 33 Mexico MEX
7 h5 r1/2 Keisuke Sawaki 28 Japan JPN
8 h1 r1/2 Takaharu Koyama 24 Japan JPN
8 h2 r1/2 Raymond Zembri 23 France FRA
8 h3 r1/2 Boualem Rahoui 23 Algeria ALG
8 h4 r1/2 Len Hilton 24 United States USA
8 h5 r1/2 Bronisław Malinowski 21 Poland POL
9 h1 r1/2 Carlos Lopes 25 Portugal POR
9 h2 r1/2 Dick Quax 24 New Zealand NZL
9 h3 r1/2 Tekle Fetinsa 26 Ethiopia ETH
9 h4 r1/2 Wolfgang Riesinger 21 West Germany FRG
9 h5 r1/2 Jürgen May 30 West Germany FRG
10 h1 r1/2 Esau Adenji 28 Cameroon CMR
10 h2 r1/2 Gert Kærlin 22 Denmark DEN
10 h3 r1/2 Dick Tayler 24 New Zealand NZL
10 h4 r1/2 Knut Børø 23 Norway NOR
10 h5 r1/2 Gavin Thorley 25 New Zealand NZL
11 h1 r1/2 P. C. Suppiah 23 Singapore SIN
11 h2 r1/2 Carlos Cuque 26 Guatemala GUA
11 h3 r1/2 Eddie Sequeira 30 India IND
11 h4 r1/2 Jørn Lauenborg 27 Denmark DEN
11 h5 r1/2 Hikmet Şen 30 Turkey TUR
12 h3 r1/2 John Hartnett 22 Ireland IRL
12 h4 r1/2 Evans Mogaka 22 Kenya KEN
12 h5 r1/2 Fritz Rüegsegger 22 Switzerland SUI
13 h3 r1/2 Abdullah Al-Mabrouk 19 Saudi Arabia KSA
13 h4 r1/2 Damiano Musonda 27 Zambia ZAM
13 h5 r1/2 Usaia Sotutu 23 Fiji FIJ