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Athletics at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games:

Men's 5,000 metres

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Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Victoria
Date Started: November 26, 1956
Date Finished: November 28, 1956

Gold: URS Volodymyr Kuts
Silver: GBR Gordon Pirie
Bronze: GBR Derek Ibbotson


The great distance champion of the 1952 Olympics, [Emil Zátopek], was still competing but chose to run only the marathon in Melbourne. At the 1954 European Championships, the gold was won by Soviet [Volodymyr Kuts] over Britain’s [Chris Chataway], with Zátopek third. Kuts and Chataway both broke the world 5K record in 1954. Then in 1955, Kuts and Hungary’s [Sándor Iharos] exchanged the record. Iharos had had a dominating year in 1955 in distance running, setting six world records at distance between 1,500 and 5,000 metres, and in early 1956 set world records at six miles and 10K. The Melbourne 5K was expected to be a great battle between Kuts, Iharos, and Chataway. But shortly before the Olympics, the Soviet Union invaded Hungary to put down a democratic uprising in that country. Although Hungary competed in Melbourne, Iharos stayed back home, unsuccessfully working the telephone exchanges.

The final of this event came down to Kuts and a British runner, but it was not Chataway who was suffering from stomach cramps in the final and finished only 11th. Kuts was by far the strongest. He pushed the pace from the beginning, with only the three Britons staying in contact early, Chataway, [Gordon Pirie] and [Derek Ibbotson]. But by 4,000, Kuts was clear of the field and continued pulling away, winning by 11 seconds in the largest margin of victory ever for this event.

View a Phase of this EventFinal StandingsFinalRound One

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Volodymyr Kuts 29 Soviet Union URS Gold OR
2 Gordon Pirie 25 Great Britain GBR Silver
3 Derek Ibbotson 24 Great Britain GBR Bronze
4 Miklós Szabó 27 Hungary HUN
5 Albie Thomas 21 Australia AUS
6 László Tábori 25 Hungary HUN
7 Nyandika Maiyoro Kenya KEN
8 Thyge Thøgersen 30 Denmark DEN
9 Pyotr Bolotnikov 26 Soviet Union URS
10 Ivan Cherniavskiy 26 Soviet Union URS
11 Chris Chataway 25 Great Britain GBR
12 Herbert Schade 34 Germany GER
AC Bill Dellinger 22 United States USA
AC Veliša Mugoša 25 Yugoslavia YUG
1 h2 r1/2 Allan Lawrence 26 Australia AUS
6 h1 r1/2 Arere Anentia Kenya KEN
6 h2 r1/2 Ilmari Taipale 28 Finland FIN
6 h3 r1/2 Friedrich Janke 25 Germany GER
7 h1 r1/2 Rune Åhlund 26 Sweden SWE
7 h2 r1/2 Curt Stone 34 United States USA
7 h3 r1/2 Jerzy Chromik 25 Poland POL
8 h2 r1/2 Doug Kyle 24 Canada CAN
AC h1 r1/2 Kazimierz Zimny 21 Poland POL