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Athletics at the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Games:

Men's 5,000 metres

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Host City: Los Angeles, United States
Venue(s): Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
Date Started: August 2, 1932
Date Finished: August 5, 1932

Gold: FIN Lauri Lehtinen
Silver: USA Ralph Hill
Bronze: FIN Lasse Virtanen


This was the most controversial track & field event of the 1932 Olympics. The Finns were still favored, led by [Lauri Lehtinen], who had broken [Paavo Nurmi]’s world record in June at the Finnish Olympic Trials, with [Lauri “Lasse” Virtanen] also highly considered. In the final Lehtinen and Virtanen opened up quickly and pushed the pace from the beginning. By 4,000 metres they led with only America’s [Ralph Hill] in contact, but Virtanen dropped off the pace shortly thereafter. Hill and Lehtinen reached the bell lap together. On the final lap, Lehtinen led slightly until the home stretch. At that point, Hill moved to the second lane to try to pass Lehtinen but Lehtinen also moved out, blocking Hill. Hill then tried to move inside, but Lehtinen cut back and blocked that move as well. They crossed the line with Lehtinen leading by 30 cm. The pro-American crowd went crazy over the Finns move in the final straight, and Coliseum announcer Bill Henry finally had to quiet them with, “Ladies and gentlemen, please remember, these people are our guests.” Films of the race seemed to show that Lehtinen had interfered with Hill but no protest was lodged. Hill later graciously commented that although he had been blocked, he felt Lehtinen had enough reserve to win the race in any case. On the victory podium, Lehtinen tried to make amends by pulling Hill up to the top step, although he refused. Lehtinen did pin a Finnish flag on his sweater during the victory ceremony.

View a Phase of this EventFinal StandingsFinalRound One

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Lauri Lehtinen 23 Finland FIN Gold OR
2 Ralph Hill 23 United States USA Silver
3 Lasse Virtanen 27 Finland FIN Bronze
4 Billy Savidan 30 New Zealand NZL
5 Jean-Gunnar Lindgren 26 Sweden SWE
6 Max Syring 23 Germany GER
7 Alec Burns 24 Great Britain GBR
8 Dan Dean 23 United States USA
9 Erik Pettersson 25 Sweden SWE
10 Alex Hillhouse 25 Australia AUS
11 Scotty Rankine 23 Canada CAN
12 Shoichiro Takenaka 19 Japan JPN
AC Roger Rochard 19 France FRA
AC Paul Rekers 23 United States USA
8 h1 r1/2 George Bailey 26 Great Britain GBR
8 h2 r1/2 Valentín González 22 Mexico MEX
9 h1 r1/2 Masamichi Kitamoto 23 Japan JPN
10 h1 r1/2 Juan Morales 22 Mexico MEX