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1956 Olympic Games Melbourne, Australia - Men's 5000 m

 

 

Host City: Melbourne, Australia Format: Top five in each heat advanced to the final.
Date Started: November 26, 1956
Date Finished: November 28, 1956
(Competitors: 23; Countries: 13; Finalists: 14)
Venue(s): Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Victoria
Overview by IAAF  1956_melbournestadium.jpg
The heats saw three wins for English speaking athletes – Pirie 14:25.69, Al Lawrence (AUS) 14:14.67, and Thomas 14:14.41. Kuts, the Ukrainian-born Russian, showed his cards immediately in the final. He rushed through 200m in 30.6, 400m in 62.2, continuing on to kilometre splits of 2:40.1, 5:26.2 and 8:11.2. By this time only the three Britons were in contact, with a 40m gap to Thomas. Chataway fell back in the ninth lap, a victim of stomach cramps, and Kuts scoured through 4000m in 10:57.4 with a 10m lead over Ibbotson and Pirie. By the bell he was 45m ahead and a last lap of 62.2 brought him home 65m clear of Pirie, who at last won an Olympic medal. Kuts’s winning margin was nearly three times the previous largest victory (Guillemot – 4.6 seconds in 1920), and remains as the most dominant piece of 5000m running in Olympic history.
Summary by Sports-reference.com
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 Vladimir 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 a 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 conact 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.
 5,000

Vladimir Kuts no doubt had a psychological advantage after his crushing 10,000 victory five days earlier.  But this time there were three English runners who were all strong contenders: Gordon Pirie, who was the 5,000 WR holder; Derek Ibbotson; and Chris Chataway. But there was no chance that class-conscious Pirie was going to work with his rival Chataway, an Oxford graduate. In fact, in a pre-race talk with Ibbotson, Pirie said that he regarded Chataway as his biggest threat.  Ibbotson had wanted the three Brits to run as a team, but Pirie was never going to agree. All three Brits had better finishes than Kuts, so they would surely have benefitted from working together to keep in touch with the Russian.

Kuts went straight into lead with a 62.2 lap. At 1,000 ( 2:40.1)  Pirie and Ibbotson were right behind Kuts, with Chataway seventh. Positions were unchanged to 2,000 (2:46.1 for 5: 26.2). By 3,000, which was reached in the fast time of 8:11.2 (2:45), all three Brits were grimly hanging on to Kuts, Chataway having moved up on the sixth lap. The fifth runner, Thomas of Australia, was 40m back. It was at this point that Chataway moved into second.  He held on to Kuts for 600 but then lost contact. Kuts had escaped from the English trio.

After the race, Chataway explained that he had moved up to second in a desperate move as he was developing stomach cramp. Ibbotson, in his book, blames Pirie for the loss of contact: “Chataway was unable to go with him, and for three vital seconds Pirie dithered… [I] wished I had sensed the danger early and gone up. Instead, I had blind faith in Gordon. Until then the race had provided me with no difficulty.” (4-Minute Smiler, p,90) Pirie, in his book, had a different perspective: “I had to concentrate on Chataway and Ibbotson round the next bend. As we came into the home straight I was shocked to see Chataway had allowed Kuts to break away.” (Running Wild, pp.158-9)

Pirie and Ibbotson (188) staying close to Kuts
in the early stages. Albie Thomas is fourth.

All of a sudden, Pirie and Ibbotson were 10m adrift, and Chataway was out of contention. The two Brits were unable to pull Kuts back as he sped up each time they got close. Kuts was through 4,000 in 10:57.4 (2:46.2), ten yards ahead of Ibbotson and Pirie. Laps of 66.8 and 64.8 enabled Kuts to increase his lead to 50m by the bell. Even though Pirie and Ibbotson sprinted hard for second place, Kuts increased his lead to 60m by the tape. His last was 62.2, and his last K 2:42.2. His time was a brilliant 13:39.6. Only Pirie had ever run faster. Pirie (13:50.6) easily outsprinted Ibbotson, who ran a PB of 13:54.4. Behind them Szabo came fourth, some 50m back. In 11th place was Chataway, who despite his stomach ailment had struggled on. “I really thought I had a chance,” he said in an interview many years later. “But after seven or eight laps when all was going well,, I was absolutely paralysed with stomach cramp. When it hit I slowed immediately. It was automatic.” (Track Stats 43:3 (Aug. 2005)

For Kuts, this second gold established him as the number-one distance runner. Iharos might have run more WRs, but Kuts, who was the reigning European 5,000 Champion as well, could win when it really counted.

1. Kuts URS 13:39.6; 2. Pirie GBR 13:50.6; 3. Ibbotson GBR 13:54.4; 4. Szabo HUN 14:03.4; 5. Thomas AUS 14:04.8; 6. Tabori HUN 14:09.8.

 
Results
5000 m Men Final 28 November
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 13.39.86 Volodymyr Kuts Soviet Union URS 29 OR 13.39.6 h
2 13.50.78 Gordon Pirie Great Britain GBR 25 13.50.6 h
3 13.54.60 Derek Ibbotson Great Britain GBR 24 13.54.4 h
4 14.03.38 Miklós Szabó Hungary HUN 27 14.03.4 h
5 14.05.03 Albie Thomas Australia AUS 21 14.04.6 h
6 14.09.99 László Tábori Hungary HUN 25 14.09.8 h
7 14.18.99 Nyandika Maiyoro Kenya KEN 14.19.0 h
8 14.21.81 Thyge Thøgersen Denmark DEN 30 14.21.0 h
9 14.22.63 Pyotr Bolotnikov Soviet Union URS 26 14.22.4 h
10 14.22.67 Ivan Cherniavskiy Soviet Union URS 26 14.22.4 h
11 14.28.63 Chris Chataway Great Britain GBR 25 14.28.8 h
12 14.31.90 Herbert Schade Germany GER 34 14.31.8 h
AC DNF Bill Dellinger United States USA 22
AC DNF Veliša Mugoša Yugoslavia YUG 25
5000 m Men Round One Heat One 26 November
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 14.25.69 Q Gordon Pirie Great Britain GBR 25 14.25.6 h
2 14.25.71 Q Veliša Mugoša Yugoslavia YUG 25 14.25.6 h
3 14.26.92 Q Bill Dellinger United States USA 22 14.26.8 h
4 14.28.17 Q Pyotr Bolotnikov Soviet Union URS 26 14.28.0 h
5 14.29.34 Q Thyge Thøgersen Denmark DEN 30 14.29.0 h
6 14.37.30 Arere Anentia Kenya KEN 14.37.0 h
7 15.12.0 Rune Åhlund Sweden SWE 26
AC DNF Kazimierz Zimny Poland POL 21
5000 m Men Round One Heat Two 26 November
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 14.14.67 Q Allan Lawrence Australia AUS 26 14.14.6 h
2 14.15.47 Q Volodymyr Kuts Soviet Union URS 29 14.15.4 h
3 14.18.75 Q László Tábori Hungary HUN 25 14.18.6 h
4 14.18.78 Q Derek Ibbotson Great Britain GBR 24 14.18.8 h
5 14.19.25 Q Herbert Schade Germany GER 34 14.18.8 h
6 14.24.2 Ilmari Taipale Finland FIN 28
7 14.52.0 Curt Stone United States USA 34
8 14.59.0 Doug Kyle Canada CAN 24
5000 m Men Round One Heat Three 26 November
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 14.14.41 Q Albie Thomas Australia AUS 21 14.14.2 h
2 14.29.59 Q Nyandika Maiyoro Kenya KEN 14.29.4 h
3 14.32.49 Q Ivan Cherniavskiy Soviet Union URS 26 14.32.4 h
4 14.32.83 Q Miklós Szabó Hungary HUN 27 14.32.6 h
5 14.32.87 Q Chris Chataway Great Britain GBR 25 14.32.6 h
6 14.40.89 Friedrich Janke Germany GER 25 14.40.6 h
7 14.51.4 Jerzy Chromik Poland POL 25
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

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