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Athletics at the 1972 München Summer Games:

Men's 1,500 metres

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Host City: München, West Germany
Venue(s): Olympic Stadium, Olympic Park, München
Date Started: September 8, 1972
Date Finished: September 10, 1972

Gold: FIN Pekka Vasala
Silver: KEN Kip Keino
Bronze: NZL Rod Dixon


The 1968 champion, [Kip Keino], and the 1,500/mile world record holder, [Jim Ryun], were both back for the 1972 1,500. Ryun was no longer the dominant runner he had been in 1966-67 and was actually pushed as the top American by Marty Liquori, who had the top time in the world for 1,500 metres in 1971. But Liquori injured his leg and could not even contest the US Olympic Trials. Also a top miler 1972 was Kenyan [Ben Jipcho], who had sacrificed himself in the 1968 final to help Keino win gold. He was no longer considered simply a domestique for Keino, but he too was injured and did not compete at München. A few weeks after the US Olympic Trials, Ryun ran 3:52.8, the third fastest mile ever, showing his fitness. The Olympic 1,500 would have three rounds. Ryun and Keino were drawn in the fourth heat of round one. Keino ran near the front, as he often did, while Ryun was in the back of the pack. At 1,000 metres, Ryun’s heel was clipped by Ghana’s [Billy Fordjour], and both fell to the track. Ryun got up a few seconds later but was hopelessly behind and did not qualify for the semi-final. As he crossed the line, Keino met him and tried to console him. The US Olympic Committee appealed, claiming Ryun was tripped, but it was not allowed and he was out of the competition.

In the final the way seemed open for Keino to defend his gold medal. Among the 10 finalists, his main competition seemed to be New Zealander [Rod Dixon], and the erratic Finlander, [Pekka Vasala]. His teammate, [Mike Boit], also qualified but he was better known as an 800 runner. The pace in the final was slow, but Keino moved to the lead just after 700 metres. He then fired off a 55.1 lap, trying to break down the other runners, but they stayed in contact, the slow early pace leaving them plenty of run. Off the final curve, Vasala moved to Keino’s shoulder and outsprinted him to win the upset gold medal. Keino placed second with Dixon getting the bronze medal.

View a Phase of this EventFinal StandingsFinalSemi-FinalsRound One

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Pekka Vasala 24 Finland FIN Gold
2 Kip Keino 32 Kenya KEN Silver
3 Rod Dixon 22 New Zealand NZL Bronze
4 Mike Boit 23 Kenya KEN
5 Brendan Foster 24 Great Britain GBR
6 Herman Mignon 21 Belgium BEL
7 Paul-Heinz Wellmann 20 West Germany FRG
8 Volodymyr Pantelei 27 Soviet Union URS
9 Tony Polhill 24 New Zealand NZL
10 Tom Hansen 24 Denmark DEN
4 h1 r2/3 Dave Wottle 22 United States USA
4 h2 r2/3 Shibrou Regassa 28 Ethiopia ETH
5 h1 r2/3 Chris Fisher 22 Australia AUS
5 h2 r2/3 Jacky Boxberger 23 France FRA
5 h3 r2/3 Gunnar Ekman 29 Sweden SWE
6 h1 r2/3 Gianni Del Buono 28 Italy ITA
6 h2 r2/3 Henryk Szordykowski 28 Poland POL
6 h3 r2/3 Bob Wheeler 20 United States USA
7 h1 r2/3 Thomas Wessinghage 20 West Germany FRG
7 h2 r2/3 Haico Scharn 27 Netherlands NED
7 h3 r2/3 Franco Arese 28 Italy ITA
8 h1 r2/3 Spilios Zakharopoulos 22 Greece GRE
8 h2 r2/3 Pekka Päivärinta 23 Finland FIN
8 h3 r2/3 Jean-Pierre Dufresne 27 France FRA
9 h1 r2/3 Ulf Högberg 26 Sweden SWE
9 h2 r2/3 Ray Smedley 20 Great Britain GBR
9 h3 r2/3 Klaus-Peter Justus 21 East Germany GDR
10 h1 r2/3 Hailu Ebba 21 Ethiopia ETH
10 h2 r2/3 Bodo Tümmler 28 West Germany FRG
10 h3 r2/3 Gerd Larsen 29 Denmark DEN
5 h1 r1/3 Donaldo Arza 26 Panama PAN
5 h2 r1/3 John Kirkbride 25 Great Britain GBR
5 h3 r1/3 André Dehertoghe 31 Belgium BEL
5 h5 r1/3 Frank Murphy 25 Ireland IRL
5 h7 r1/3 Mansour Guettaya 22 Tunisia TUN
6 h1 r1/3 Ivan Ivanov 24 Soviet Union URS
6 h2 r1/3 Filbert Bayi 19 Tanzania TAN
6 h3 r1/3 Petre Lupan 22 Romania ROU
6 h4 r1/3 Werner Meier 23 Switzerland SUI
6 h5 r1/3 Byron Dyce 24 Jamaica JAM
6 h6 r1/3 Edgard Salvé 26 Belgium BEL
6 h7 r1/3 Fernando Mamede 19 Portugal POR
7 h1 r1/3 Mehmet Tümkan 28 Turkey TUR
7 h2 r1/3 Josef Horčic 27 Czechoslovakia TCH
7 h3 r1/3 Mohamed Makdouf 23 Morocco MAR
7 h4 r1/3 Muhammad Younis 23 Pakistan PAK
7 h5 r1/3 Cosmas Silei 23 Kenya KEN
7 h6 r1/3 Antonio Colón 19 Puerto Rico PUR
7 h7 r1/3 Azzedine Azzouzi 24 Algeria ALG
8 h1 r1/3 Mohamed Kacemi 23 Algeria ALG
8 h2 r1/3 Bill Smart 24 Canada CAN
8 h3 r1/3 Abdul Wahab Naser Al-Safra 23 Saudi Arabia KSA
8 h4 r1/3 Vitus Ashaba 29 Uganda UGA
8 h5 r1/3 Jože Međimurec 27 Yugoslavia YUG
8 h6 r1/3 Édouard Rasoanaivo 25 Madagascar MAD
8 h7 r1/3 Ken Elmer 24 Canada CAN
9 h1 r1/3 Daniel Andrade 22 Senegal SEN
9 h4 r1/3 Jim Ryun 25 United States USA
9 h5 r1/3 Harry Nkopeka 23 Malawi MAW
9 h6 r1/3 Jaiye Abidoye 30 Nigeria NGR
9 h7 r1/3 Esaie Fongang 28 Cameroon CMR
10 h1 r1/3 Dafallah Sultan Farah Sudan SUD
10 h4 r1/3 Billy Fordjour 24 Ghana GHA
10 h5 r1/3 Edward Kar 18 Liberia LBR
10 h6 r1/3 Mohamed Aboker 26 Somalia SOM
10 h7 r1/3 Jimmy Crampton 23 Myanmar MYA