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Athletics at the 1904 St. Louis Summer Games:

Men's 400 metres

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Host City: St. Louis, United States
Venue(s): Francis Field, Washington University, St. Louis
Date Started: August 29, 1904
Date Finished: August 29, 1904
Format: Final only.

Gold: USA Harry Hillman
Silver: USA Frank Waller
Bronze: USA Herman Groman


[Harry Hillman] was probably the favorite although Canada's [Percival Molson] would also be closely watched, based on his victory over Hillman at the 1904 Canadian championships. There were no heats, as the thirteen runners started together, with twelve men on the line, and one, unknown soul forced to start behind the front line. [Herman Groman] went into the lead at 70 metres, and quickly opened a gap. The field immediately sorted itself out into two groups. At 200 metres Hillman, who had been running third, took the lead, while [Joseph Fleming] left the second pack and joined the main group. Into the last turn, [George Poage] tried to pass but was cut off by Fleming and [Frank Waller]. The final sprint involved Hillman, Waller, Groman, Fleming and [Meyer Prinstein], as Poage fell back. Hillman powered ahead to win by about three yards over Waller, with Groman on Waller's heels and Fleming and Prinstein finishing almost together, another two yards back.

Though Percival Molson failed to place, he would achieve his fame later, but it would cost him his life. Molson, the great-grandson of John Molson, founder of Molson Breweries of Canada, attended McGill, from which he graduated in 1900, after serving as president of his senior class and gaining every athletic honor the university could offer. When World War I broke out, he joined the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, and fought for them at the Battle of Mount Sorrel in 1916. He was wounded during the battle and returned home, receiving the Military Cross for his efforts. He insisted he be allowed to rejoin the company and on 5 July 1917, while fighting on the outskirts of Avion, France, he was hit by mortar fire while attempting to rescue a fallen friend. Both were killed. In his honor, the main athletic stadium at McGill University is known as the Percival Molson Memorial Stadium.

View a Phase of this EventFinal Standings

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal T
1 Harry Hillman 22 United States USA Gold 49.2 OR
2 Frank Waller 20 United States USA Silver 49.9
3 Herman Groman 21 United States USA Bronze 50.0
4 Joseph Fleming 20 United States USA
5 Meyer Prinstein 25 United States USA
6 George Poage 23 United States USA
AC Clyde Blair 22 United States USA
AC Percy Molson 23 Canada CAN
AC Paul Pilgrim 20 United States USA
AC Johannes Runge 26 Germany GER
AC George Underwood 19 United States USA
AC Howard Valentine 22 United States USA