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Charles Bennett

Full name: Charles Bennett
Gender: Male
Born: December 28, 1870 in Shapwick, Dorset, Great Britain
Died: December 16, 1950 in Bournemouth, Bournemouth, Great Britain
Affiliations: Portsmouth Harriers, Portsmouth (GBR)
Country: GBR Great Britain
Sport: Athletics

Medals: 2 Gold, 1 Silver (3 Total)


Charles Bennett of Finchley Harriers, a railway engine driver at Bournemouth Central Station and known as The Shapwick Express, won the AAA 4 mile title in 1897 and in 1899 he was the National cross-country champion and won both the AAA 4 miles and 10 miles on the track. Early in 1900 he retained his cross country crown, but by the summer he had developed a certain measure of speed and defeated a rather undistinguished field to take the AAA mile title. His winning time of 4:28.2 seconds did not augur well for his Olympic chances but 1900 was not a vintage year for milers and the best time recorded in the world that year was a modest 4:24.4 seconds by the American [John Cregan]. Cregan withdrew from the 1,500 metres at the Paris Olympics on sabbatical grounds and Bennett’s main challenger was [Henry Deloge], the local idol and the world record holder at 1,000 metres. There were no heats for the 1,500 metres and after a close race Bennett beat Deloge by two metres in 4:06.2 seconds. This was said at the time to be a world record, although clearly many athletes had passed the 1,500 metres mark in a faster time during the course of a mile race. Nevertheless Bennett achieved the distinction of being the first British athlete to win an Olympic track and field event.

Bennett won a second gold medal and set a second world record seven days later when he led Britain to victory in the 5000 metres team race and he had, in the interim, won a silver medal in the longer of the two steeplechase events. Despite his two world records and his Olympic titles, Charles Bennett remains a much under-rated athlete, particularly in historical rather than temporal terms. His performance at Paris in July 1900 was possibly the finest double by a British athlete since Fred Elborough achieved the remarkable feat of breaking the world record for both the 220 yards and the 880 yards in one afternoon in October 1876.

Bennett’s Olympic season closed in October with a challenge match against [Alfred Tysoe] at Belle Vue, Manchester. Tysoe was the AAA and Olympic champion at 880 yards/800 metres and Bennett held identical titles at the mile/1500 metres distance, and a meeting was arranged over three-quarters of a mile, which was mid-way between their championship distances, to decide which of these two fine athletes was Britain’s leading middle-distance runner. Tyson won a close race in 3:13.0 seconds but Bennett’s British record of 3:10.6 seconds survived.

Personal Bests: 1500 – 4:06.2 (1900); Mile – 4:24.2 (1899); 2 miles – 9:35.0 (1898); 5000 – 15:20.0 (1900); 4 miles – 19:48.0 (1899).


Games Age City Sport Event Team NOC Rank Medal
1900 Summer 29 Paris Athletics Men's 1,500 metres Great Britain GBR 1 Gold WR
1900 Summer 29 Paris Athletics Men's 4,000 metres Steeplechase Great Britain GBR 2 Silver
1900 Summer 29 Paris Athletics Men's 5,000 metres, Team Amateur Athletic Association GBR 1 Gold

Men's 1,500 metres

Games Age City Sport Country Phase Unit Rank T
1900 Summer 29 Paris Athletics Great Britain Final Standings 1 WR 4:06.2

Men's 4,000 metres Steeplechase

Games Age City Sport Country Phase Unit Rank MB
1900 Summer 29 Paris Athletics Great Britain Final Standings 2 1½ yds bh

Men's 5,000 metres, Team

Games Age City Sport Team NOC Phase Unit Rank TP IP ST
1900 Summer 29 Paris Athletics Amateur Athletic Association GBR Final Standings 1 26 points 1 15:29.2
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