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1952 Olympic Games Helsinki, Finland - Men's 1500 m

 

 

Host City: Helsinki, Finland Format: Top six in each heat advanced to the final.
Date Started: July 24, 1952 Format: Top four in each heat advanced to the semi-final.
Date Finished: July 26, 1952
(Competitors: 52; Countries: 26; Finalists: 12)
Venue(s): Helsinki Olympic Stadium, Helsinki
Overview by IAAF  1952_olympic_stadium.jpg
The pre-meet favourites were Lueg, who had equalled the world record of 3:43.0 in the German championships, and the top two men of 1951, Bannister, and El Mabrouk. The large entry meant that an extra round was needed to arrive at a 12-man final. All the preliminary races were tactical affairs, the athletes mindful of the extra round, with Åberg (3:51.14) the fastest in round 1 and Denis Johansson (3:49.59) of Finland the quickest in the semi-finals. Lamers set a fast pace in the final, seemingly to help his compatriot Lueg, but after passing 400m in 57.8 he slowed to 2:01.4 at 800m. Lueg moved ahead at 900m, and led by 2m at the bell (2:48.0). Piling on the pressure, Lueg led by 3m as the athletes came off the final curve, with the surprising Barthel in second, just ahead of McMillen on the inside and Bannister and El Mabrouk on the outside. Barthel quickly moved away from the others and caught Lueg with just under 50m to go. McMillen passed Lueg with 20m to go and finished 0.11 down on the Luxembourg star, who was as surprised as the crowd by his win. Barthel later broke down in tears of happiness on the victory stand after winning his country’s only major championship gold medal in athletics history (but also see the 1900 Marathon).
Summary by Sports-reference.com
There was no favorite for the 1952 1,500, but the field had outstanding depth. At least 25 runners had run under 3:50 or 4:10 leading up to Helsinki. For the first time, the event had three rounds, with two semi-finals qualifying six runners in each heat for the final. The leading qualifiers for the final were Bob McMillen (USA), Patrick El Mabrouk (FRA), Werner Lueg (GER), Audun Boysen (NOR), Josy Barthel (LUX), and Roger Bannister (GBR). The first lap was led by Germany’s Rolf Lamers in the overly fast time of 57.8. He still led after two laps but in a more reasonable 2:01.4. Lueg led thru 1,000 metres in 2:32.8 with the field still closely bunched. He continued to lead into the last curve, with McMillen, Bannister, Barthel and El Mabrouk chasing him. Lueg finally tied up on the straight and Barthel and McMillen passed him while Bannister and El Mabrouk began to slow. In one of the greatest Olympic finishes ever, Barthel barely held off McMillen, while Lueg recovered slightly to get the bronze medal. Roger Bannister finished fourth. A bit less than two years later, on 6 May 1954, at the Iffley Road track at Oxford, Bannister ran the mile in the British AAA vs. Oxford meet. His time that day was a world record of 3:59.4, making him the first runner to better the magical 4-minute mile barrier. Barthel’s gold medal was the “first” ever for tiny Luxembourg, although in the 1990s, French athletics historian Alain Bouillé discovered that the 1900 marathon gold medalist, Michel Théato, was actually a Luxembourgeois national.
 

1,500

 Barthel wins from McMillen, while Lueg hangs on for third.

For the first time there were not only heats but also a semi-final for this event. Thus to excel in the final, a runner had to be strong enough to run three hard races in a short time-span. This meant that a successful runner in the finals had to be used to training hard almost every day—something that gentlemen runners in England did not do at this time. A new world was evolving for elite track runners:  only the hard trainers would succeed.  The Zatopeks and Piries were the runners of the future—amateur runners with a professional attitude.

The Helsinki experience of Roger Bannister illustrates this new reality for major championship track races.  Bannister had run an amazing 2:52.9 3/4 time-trial ten days before the Games. This showed he was good enough to beat anyone in a single race. So he was shocked to find out subsequently that the Olympic Committee, due to high entry levels, had decided to have two qualifying rounds for the 1,500; further, the heats, semis and final were to be on three consecutive days. This late announcement was totally unexpected as there had never been semis in this event. Bannister later wrote: “It was crazy for such an exhausting distance. No man who trained as I did could possibly run three good races in three consecutive days.” (First Four Minutes, 146)

Bannister wrote that the first round (3:56) “did not exhaust me unduly.” (First Four Minutes, 152) But he was sleeping poorly, and the semi, where he finished only fifth (3:50.6), left him “blown and unhappy.” (FFM, 156) During the night between the  semi and final, his legs ached so much that he could not sleep. For the final he “hardly had the strength to warm up.” (FFM,158)

A runner like Josy Barthel (25), on the other hand, who had trained rigorously under Woldemar Gerschler, possessed the strength to run his heat and semi (3:51.6 and 3:50.4) with little trouble and thus perform well in the final. But Barthel, who came to the Games with a PB of only 3:51, had not been considered likely to medal. Apart from Bannister, Werner Lueg of Germany was given the best chance of winning. Another threat was Bob McMillen, who had won the US trials and had a 4:07 Mile to his credit. McMillen had run in the 1948 Olympic Steeplechase, but had fallen three times.

Lamers of Germany made the pace fast for his compatriot Lueg, passing 400 in 57.8. However, he slowed in the second lap and Lueg felt he had to push the pace himself. Lueg led through 800 in 2:01.4 and 1,200 in 3:03—surely slower than he had wished. Lueg continued to lead into the back stretch, while behind him there was considerable jockeying. Aberg, El Mabrouk and Bannister all challenged the German, but he held onto his lead into the final bend. Bannister was in a perfect position for his patented sprint, but he had “a sickening feeling of exhaustion” and was unable to change gears. Coming off the bend, Barthel put in a dramatic sprint and drew level with Lueg at 50m. But finishing even faster than Barthel, the American McMillen was catching up. After Barthel passed Lueg, he was almost caught by McMillen at the tape. The first three were separated by only 0.4 of a second. Just behind these three was Bannister, who finished in the same time as El Mabrouck, only 0.8 behind the winner.

Barthel, who had a 3:51 PB coming into the Games, improved to 3:45.1 in the final. He had been coached to perfection by Woldemar Gerschler. Later, on talking to the German coach, British runners were “astounded” to hear the details of Barthel’s hard training before the Games.

1. Josy Barthel LUX 3:45.1; 2. Robert McMillen USA 3:45.2; 3. Werner Lueg GER 3:45.4; 4. Roger Bannister GBR 3:46.0; 5. El Mabrouk FRA 3:46.0; 6. Lamers GER 3:46.8.

 
Results
1500 m Men Final 26 July
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 3.45.28 Josy Barthel Luxembourg LUX 25 OR 3.45.2 h
2 3.45.39 Bob McMillen United States USA 24 (=)OR 3.45.2 h
3 3.45.67 Werner Lueg Germany GER 20 3.45.4 h
4 3.46.30 Roger Bannister Great Britain GBR 23 3.46.0 h
5 3.46.35 Patrick El Mabrouk France FRA 23 3.46.0 h
6 3.47.18 Rolf Lamers Germany GER 25 3.46.8 h
7 3.47.20 Olle Åberg Sweden SWE 27 3.47.0 h
8 3.47.70 Ingvar Ericsson Sweden SWE 24 3.47.6 h
9 3.49.77 Don MacMillan Australia AUS 24 3.49.6 h
10 3.50.24 Denis Johansson Finland FIN 24 3.49.8 h
11 3.51.75 Audun Boysen Norway NOR 23 3.51.4 h
12 3.56.0 Warren Druetzler United States USA 23
1500 m Men Semi-Finals Heat One 25 July
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 3.49.60 Q Denis Johansson Finland FIN 24 3.49.4 h
2 3.50.06 Q Werner Lueg Germany GER 20 3.49.8 h
3 3.50.81 Q Don MacMillan Australia AUS 24 3.50.8 h
4 3.51.16 Q Warren Druetzler United States USA 23 3.50.8 h
5 3.51.25 Q Patrick El Mabrouk France FRA 23 3.51.0 h
6 3.51.33 Q Audun Boysen Norway NOR 23 3.51.0 h
7 3.51.37 Václav Čevona Czechoslovakia TCH 30 3.51.4 h
8 3.51.45 Sture Landqvist Sweden SWE 27 3.51.4 h
9 3.51.93 Bill Nankeville Great Britain GBR 27 3.52.0 h
10 3.52.91 Bill Parnell Canada CAN 24 3.52.4 h
11 3.52.58 Mihail Velsvebel Soviet Union URS 25 3.52.6 h
12 3.52.72 George Hoskins New Zealand NZL 23 3.53.0 h
1500 m Men Semi-Finals Heat Two 25 July
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 3.50.51 Q Josy Barthel Luxembourg LUX 25 3.50.4 h
2 3.50.71 Q Olle Åberg Sweden SWE 27 3.50.6 h
3 3.50.77 Q Ingvar Ericsson Sweden SWE 24 3.50.6 h
4 3.50.84 Q Bob McMillen United States USA 24 3.50.6 h
5 3.50.92 Q Roger Bannister Great Britain GBR 23 3.50.6 h
6 3.51.30 Q Rolf Lamers Germany GER 25 3.50.8 h
7 3.51.72 Stanislav Jungwirth Czechoslovakia TCH 21 3.51.0 h
8 3.53.56 Vilmos Tölgyesi Hungary HUN 21 3.53.2 h
9 3.54.04 Frans Herman Belgium BEL 25 3.53.8 h
10 3.55.27 Günter Dohrow Germany GER 24 3.55.2 h
11 3.55.49 Mykola Belokurov Soviet Union URS 25 3.55.6 h
12 4.00.6 John Ross Canada CAN 20
1500 m Men Round One Heat One 24 July
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 3.51.75 Q Josy Barthel Luxembourg LUX 25 3.51.6 h
2 3.51.90 Q Günter Dohrow Germany GER 24 3.51.8 h
3 3.52.14 Q Ingvar Ericsson Sweden SWE 24 3.52.0 h
4 3.52.30 Q Don MacMillan Australia AUS 24 3.52.0 h
5 3.56.85 Sándor Iharos Hungary HUN 22 3.56.0 h
6 3.57.70 Mieczysław Długoborski Poland POL 21 3.57.8 h
7 4.18.0 Filemón Camacho Venezuela VEN 25
8 4.26.6 Pierre Gillet France FRA 22
AC DNF Hans Harting Netherlands NED 26
1500 m Men Round One Heat Two 24 July
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 3.51.66 Q Warren Druetzler United States USA 23 3.51.4 h
2 3.52.31 Q Sture Landqvist Sweden SWE 27 3.52.2 h
3 3.52.58 Q Stanislav Jungwirth Czechoslovakia TCH 21 3.52.4 h
4 3.52.72 Q Mihail Velsvebel Soviet Union URS 25 3.52.6 h
5 3.53.33 Aulis Pystynen Finland FIN 24 3.53.0 h
6 3.53.34 Len Eyre Great Britain GBR 26 3.53.2 h
7 3.56.52 Fred Lüthi Switzerland SUI 22 3.56.4 h
8 4.01.02 Turhan Göker Turkey TUR 22 4.00.6 h
1500 m Men Round One Heat Three 24 July
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 3.51.14 Q Olle Åberg Sweden SWE 27 3.51.0 h
2 3.51.22 Q Denis Johansson Finland FIN 24 3.51.2 h
3 3.52.72 Q Rolf Lamers Germany GER 25 3.52.4 h
4 3.53.75 Q Bill Parnell Canada CAN 24 3.53.4 h
5 3.54.76 Fritz Prossinagg Austria AUT 21 3.54.2 h
6 3.55.69 Athol Jennings South Africa RSA 21 3.55.4 h
7 3.55.98 Daniel Janssens Belgium BEL 26 3.55.8 h
8 3.58.42 Cahit Önel Turkey TUR 24 3.58.4 h
AC DNF Wim Slijkhuis Netherlands NED 29
1500 m Men Round One Heat Four 24 July
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 3.55.77 Q Patrick El Mabrouk France FRA 23 3.55.8 h
2 3.55.82 Q Bob McMillen United States USA 24 3.55.8 h
3 3.56.13 Q Roger Bannister Great Britain GBR 23 3.56.0 h
4 3.56.20 Q Vilmos Tölgyesi Hungary HUN 21 3.56.0 h
5 3.57.14 John Landy Australia AUS 22 3.57.0 h
6 3.58.20 Andrija Otenhajmer Yugoslavia YUG 25 3.57.8 h
7 4.01.03 Maurice Marshall New Zealand NZL 25 4.01.0 h
8 4.01.80 Nikolay Kuchurin Soviet Union URS 24 4.03.6 h
9 4.07.8 Vasilios Mavroidis Greece GRE 25
1500 m Men Round One Heat Five 24 July
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 3.56.33 Q George Hoskins New Zealand NZL 23 3.56.2 h
2 3.56.37 Q Frans Herman Belgium BEL 25 3.56.2 h
3 3.56.48 Q Bill Nankeville Great Britain GBR 27 3.56.4 h
4 3.56.47 Q Mykola Belokurov Soviet Union URS 25 3.56.4 h
5 3.56.85 Urpo Vähäranta Finland FIN 26 3.56.8 h
6 3.58.10 Javier Montez United States USA 22 3.58.2 h
7 4.00.87 Stefan Lewandowski Poland POL 22 4.00.8 h
1500 m Men Round One Heat Six 24 July
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 3.52.31 Q Werner Lueg Germany GER 20 3.52.0 h
2 3.53.45 Q Václav Čevona Czechoslovakia TCH 30 3.53.4 h
3 3.55.15 Q Audun Boysen Norway NOR 23 3.55.0 h
4 3.55.60 Q John Ross Canada CAN 20 3.55.2 h
5 3.56.61 Jean Vernier France FRA 28 3.56.8 h
6 3.56.91 Edmund Potrzebowski Poland POL 26 3.56.8 h
7 4.01.53 Sándor Garay Hungary HUN 32 4.01.2 h
8 4.01.77 Ekrem Koçak Turkey TUR 21 4.01.4 h
9 4.11.2 William Fahmy Hanna Egypt EGY 24
10 4.32.6 Satid Leangtanom Thailand THA 23
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

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