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Athletics at the 1896 Athina Summer Games:

Men's 400 metres

Athletics at the 1896 Summer Games: Next Summer Games


Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Panathenaic Stadium, Athina
Date Started: April 6, 1896
Date Finished: April 7, 1896

Gold: USA Tom Burke
Silver: USA Herbert Jamison
Bronze: GBR Charles Gmelin


The two best one-lap runners in 1896 were [Tom Burke] of the United States and Edgar Bredin of Britain. Burke had beaten Bredin at the 1895 [New York AC]-[London AC] meet, but Bredin was the co-holder of the world record with 48.5 for 440 yards. In early 1896, however, as so aptly put by Montague Shearman, Bredin )voluntarily joined the professional ranks, a step which was received with great surprise, as he was a gentleman by birth and education).

The heats of the 400 metres were held on 6 April. The race was slightly over one lap in length, with no lanes to separate the runners. There were two heats with seven runners coming to the start. In heat one, [Herbert Jamison] (USA) won, defeating [Fritz Hofmann] and [Kurt Doerry] of Germany, trailed by France's [Alphonse Grisel]. There was a false start in this heat, and Hofmann and Grisel were penalized two yards for their indiscretion. The second heat was won by the favorite, Tom Burke, who defeated Britain's [Charles Gmelin] and [Frantz Reichel] of France.

The finals followed on the next day, 7 April. Burke won very easily, in 54.2, with Jamison trailing him by as much as 15 metres. Third-place is disputed in later sources, with some listing Gmelin and some Hofmann, but Gmelin definitely finished 3rd per 1896 sources.

View a Phase of this EventFinal StandingsFinalRound One

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Tom Burke 21 United States USA Gold OR
2 Herbert Jamison 20 United States USA Silver
3 Charles Gmelin 23 Great Britain GBR Bronze
4 Fritz Hofmann 24 Germany GER
3 h2 r1/2 Frantz Reichel 25 France FRA
AC h1 r1/2 Alphonse Grisel France FRA
AC h1 r1/2 Kurt Doerry 21 Germany GER