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Athletics at the 1908 London Summer Games:

Men's Hammer Throw

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Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): White City Stadium, London
Date Started: July 14, 1908
Date Finished: July 14, 1908

Gold: USA John Flanagan
Silver: USA Matt McGrath
Bronze: CAN Con Walsh


[Matt McGrath] (USA) led the qualifiers with 167-11 (51.18), while [John Flanagan] (USA) was in second place with 165-2 (50.36). In the final, Flanagan improved on his last throw to 170-4¼ (51.92) to repeat his victories of 1900 and 1904. Flanagan commented on his victory 20 years later, )It was, without doubt, one of the most satisfying competition wins of my life. Matt McGrath tended to be a little arrogant and I had the feeling he believed he was certain to win. When it all came down to my last throw I knew I had to put everything into it and as it turned out I did. If I have any regret at all now, it is that I was not competing for Ireland on that day.)

John Flanagan had won the Olympic title in 1900 and 1904 and was then considered the greatest hammer thrower of the 20th century. He set 18 marks considered as world records between 1896 and 1909. Flanagan would win seven AAU hammer championships and six titles with the 56-lb. weight. Of Irish birth (Kilbreedy, County Limerick), he had emigrated to the United States in 1897. Amazingly for a man of his size (5'10" [1.78 metres], 220 lbs. [100 kg.]), he finished second in both the high and long jump and the all-around at the 1895 Irish Championships.

By 1908, Matt McGrath (USA) was becoming Flanagan's rival for hammer throw supremacy. He first appeared on the national scene in 1907, finishing 2nd in the AAU championship, but he was a world-class hammer thrower until 1928, winning seven AAU titles (the last in 1926), setting two world records, and winning three Olympic medals - silvers in 1908 and 1924, and a gold in 1912. In his defense, it was noted that he had injured his knee in the spring of 1908 and was not fully recovered from that by the time of the Olympics.

Interestingly, all three medal winners were born in Ireland and with Scotsman, [Tom Nicolson], finishing in fourth place, it was a memorable day for Celtic throwers. The bronze medalist, [Con Walsh], had been born in Carriganimma, County Cork, but spent most of his athletic career in Canada, and may have had the most potential of any of the throwers. The 1920 Olympic hammer champion, [Paddy Ryan] (USA), commented on Walsh in a 1958 interview, )Con liked the good life and as far as he was concerned training was not part of the good life. He could have beaten the lot of us but he never bothered with any serious training. He was lazy but thoroughly enjoyed competition and was a wonderful man to know at all times.)

View a Phase of this EventFinal StandingsFinal RoundQualifying Round

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal D(M) D(I)
1 John Flanagan 40 United States USA Gold 51.92 170-4¼ OR
2 Matt McGrath 32 United States USA Silver 51.18 167-11
3 Con Walsh 23 Canada CAN Bronze 48.51 159-1½
4 Tom Nicolson 28 Great Britain GBR 48.09 157-9¼
5 Lee Talbott 20 United States USA 47.86 157-0¼
6 Bill Horr 27 United States USA 46.95 154-0¼
7 Simon Gillis 28 United States USA 45.59 149-6½
8 Eric Lemming 28 Sweden SWE 43.06 141-3
9 Alan Fyffe 23 Great Britain GBR 37.35 122-6¼
AC Robert Lindsay-Watson 21 Great Britain GBR
AC Benjamin Sherman 27 United States USA
AC Jack Murray Great Britain GBR
AC Robert Olsson 25 Sweden SWE
AC Harald Agger 19 Denmark DEN
AC Ernest May 29 Great Britain GBR
AC István Mudin 26 Hungary HUN
AC Julius Wagner 25 Switzerland SUI
AC Ludwig Uettwiller 21 Germany GER
AC Henry Leeke 28 Great Britain GBR