400 metres
at the Olympic Games
2012 Summer Olympics – Mens 400 metres - Kirani James.jpg
The 2012 Olympic men's 400 m final
Overview
SportAthletics
GenderMen and women
Years heldMen: 18962020
Women: 19642020
Olympic record
Men43.03 Wayde van Niekerk (2016)
Women48.25 Marie-José Pérec (1996)
Reigning champion
Men Steven Gardiner (BAH)
Women Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH)

The 400 metres at the Summer Olympics has been contested since the first edition of the multi-sport event. The men's 400 m has been present on the Olympic athletics programme since 1896 but nearly seventy years passed before the introduction of the women's 400 m, which has been held continuously since the 1964 Games. It is the most prestigious 400 m race at elite level. The competition format typically has two qualifying rounds leading to a final race between eight athletes.

The Olympic record for the men's race was set in 2016, and the record for the women's race was set in 1996. Wayde van Niekerk holds the men's record of 43.03 seconds, breaking world and Olympic records that had been held by Michael Johnson since 1999 and 1996 respectively. Marie-José Pérec is the women's record holder at 48.25 seconds. The men's world record has been broken several times at the Olympics: in 1912, 1932, 1960, 1968, and 2016. Irena Szewińska is the only person to break the women's world record at the competition, doing so in 1976.

Only three athletes have won the event twice: Marie-José Pérec became the first to defend the title in 1996, then Michael Johnson followed with victories in 1996 and 2000, and Shaunae Miller-Uibo successfully defended her 2016 title at Tokyo 2020. No athlete has won more than three medals. Several medalists in the event have also had success in the 200 metres at the Olympics: Johnson, Perec, Szewińska and Valerie Brisco-Hooks have all won titles at both distances. Athletes chosen for the event almost always form part of their nation's team for the 4×400 metres relay at the Olympics.

The United States is the most successful nation in the event, with 21 gold medals and 44 medals in total. The next most successful nation is Great Britain. The 1908 men's 400 metres saw the only walkover in Olympic history, as the American finalists refused to compete in the final in protest of the officiating.[1]

Medal summary

Men

Games Gold Silver Bronze
1896 Athens
details
Thomas Burke
 United States
Herbert Jamison
 United States
Charles Gmelin
 Great Britain
1900 Paris
details
Maxie Long
 United States
William Holland
 United States
Ernst Schultz
 Denmark
1904 St. Louis
details
Harry Hillman
 United States
Frank Waller
 United States
Herman Groman
 United States
1908 London
details
Wyndham Halswelle
 Great Britain
None awarded None awarded
1912 Stockholm
details
Charles Reidpath
 United States
Hanns Braun
 Germany
Edward Lindberg
 United States
1920 Antwerp
details
Bevil Rudd
 South Africa
Guy Butler
 Great Britain
Nils Engdahl
 Sweden
1924 Paris
details
Eric Liddell
 Great Britain
Horatio Fitch
 United States
Guy Butler
 Great Britain
1928 Amsterdam
details
Ray Barbuti
 United States
James Ball
 Canada
Joachim Büchner
 Germany
1932 Los Angeles
details
Bill Carr
 United States
Ben Eastman
 United States
Alex Wilson
 Canada
1936 Berlin
details
Archie Williams
 United States
Godfrey Brown
 Great Britain
James LuValle
 United States
1948 London
details
Arthur Wint
 Jamaica
Herb McKenley
 Jamaica
Mal Whitfield
 United States
1952 Helsinki
details
George Rhoden
 Jamaica
Herb McKenley
 Jamaica
Ollie Matson
 United States
1956 Melbourne
details
Charles Jenkins
 United States
Karl-Friedrich Haas
 United Team of Germany
Voitto Hellstén
 Finland
Ardalion Ignatyev
 Soviet Union
1960 Rome
details
Otis Davis
 United States
Carl Kaufmann
 United Team of Germany
Malcolm Spence
 South Africa
1964 Tokyo
details
Mike Larrabee
 United States
Wendell Mottley
 Trinidad and Tobago
Andrzej Badeński
 Poland
1968 Mexico City
details
Lee Evans
 United States
Larry James
 United States
Ron Freeman
 United States
1972 Munich
details
Vincent Matthews
 United States
Wayne Collett
 United States
Julius Sang
 Kenya
1976 Montreal
details
Alberto Juantorena
 Cuba
Fred Newhouse
 United States
Herman Frazier
 United States
1980 Moscow
details
Viktor Markin
 Soviet Union
Rick Mitchell
 Australia
Frank Schaffer
 East Germany
1984 Los Angeles
details
Alonzo Babers
 United States
Gabriel Tiacoh
 Ivory Coast
Antonio McKay
 United States
1988 Seoul
details
Steve Lewis
 United States
Butch Reynolds
 United States
Danny Everett
 United States
1992 Barcelona
details
Quincy Watts
 United States
Steve Lewis
 United States
Samson Kitur
 Kenya
1996 Atlanta
details
Michael Johnson
 United States
Roger Black
 Great Britain
Davis Kamoga
 Uganda
2000 Sydney
details
Michael Johnson
 United States
Alvin Harrison
 United States
Greg Haughton
 Jamaica
2004 Athens
details
Jeremy Wariner
 United States
Otis Harris
 United States
Derrick Brew
 United States
2008 Beijing
details
LaShawn Merritt
 United States
Jeremy Wariner
 United States
David Neville
 United States
2012 London
details
Kirani James
 Grenada
Luguelín Santos
 Dominican Republic
Lalonde Gordon
 Trinidad and Tobago
2016 Rio de Janeiro
details
Wayde van Niekerk
 South Africa
Kirani James
 Grenada
LaShawn Merritt
 United States
2020 Tokyo
details
Steven Gardiner
 Bahamas
Anthony Zambrano
 Colombia
Kirani James
 Grenada

Multiple medalists

Rank Athlete Nation Olympics Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Michael Johnson  United States (USA) 1996–2000 2 0 0 2
2 Kirani James  Grenada (GRN) 2012–2021 1 1 1 3
3 Steve Lewis  United States (USA) 1988–1992 1 1 0 2
3 Jeremy Wariner  United States (USA) 2004–2008 1 1 0 2
5 LaShawn Merritt  United States (USA) 2008–2016 1 0 1 2
6 Herb McKenley  Jamaica (JAM) 1948–1952 0 2 0 2
7 Guy Butler  Great Britain (GBR) 1920–1924 0 1 1 2

Medals by country

Map of countries' best results - Men's 400 metres
Map of countries' best results - Men's 400 metres
Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  United States (USA) 19 13 11 38
2  Great Britain (GBR) 2 3 2 7
3  Jamaica (JAM) 2 2 1 5
4  South Africa (RSA) 2 0 1 3
5  Grenada (GRN) 1 1 1 3
6  Soviet Union (URS) 1 0 1 2
7=  Bahamas (BAH) 1 0 0 1
7=  Cuba (CUB) 1 0 0 1
9  Germany (GER)[nb] 0 3 1 4
10=  Canada (CAN) 0 1 1 2
10=  Trinidad and Tobago (TRI) 0 1 1 2
12=  Australia (AUS) 0 1 0 1
12=  Colombia (COL) 0 1 0 1
12=  Dominican Republic (DOM) 0 1 0 1
12=  Ivory Coast (CIV) 0 1 0 1
16  Kenya (KEN) 0 0 2 2
17=  Denmark (DEN) 0 0 1 1
17=  East Germany (GDR) 0 0 1 1
17=  Finland (FIN) 0 0 1 1
17=  Poland (POL) 0 0 1 1
17=  Sweden (SWE) 0 0 1 1
17=  Uganda (UGA) 0 0 1 1

Women

Games Gold Silver Bronze
1964 Tokyo
details
Betty Cuthbert
 Australia
Ann Packer
 Great Britain
Judy Amoore
 Australia
1968 Mexico City
details
Colette Besson
 France
Lillian Board
 Great Britain
Natalya Pechonkina
 Soviet Union
1972 Munich
details
Monika Zehrt
 East Germany
Rita Wilden
 West Germany
Kathy Hammond
 United States
1976 Montreal
details
Irena Szewińska
 Poland
Christina Brehmer
 East Germany
Ellen Streidt
 East Germany
1980 Moscow
details
Marita Koch
 East Germany
Jarmila Kratochvílová
 Czechoslovakia
Christina Lathan
 East Germany
1984 Los Angeles
details
Valerie Brisco-Hooks
 United States
Chandra Cheeseborough
 United States
Kathy Smallwood-Cook
 Great Britain
1988 Seoul
details
Olga Bryzgina
 Soviet Union
Petra Müller
 East Germany
Olga Nazarova
 Soviet Union
1992 Barcelona
details
Marie-José Pérec
 France
Olga Bryzgina
 Unified Team
Ximena Restrepo
 Colombia
1996 Atlanta
details
Marie-José Pérec
 France
Cathy Freeman
 Australia
Falilat Ogunkoya
 Nigeria
2000 Sydney
details
Cathy Freeman
 Australia
Lorraine Graham
 Jamaica
Katharine Merry
 Great Britain
2004 Athens
details
Tonique Williams-Darling
 Bahamas
Ana Guevara
 Mexico
Natalya Antyukh
 Russia
2008 Beijing
details
Christine Ohuruogu
 Great Britain
Shericka Williams
 Jamaica
Sanya Richards
 United States
2012 London
details
Sanya Richards-Ross
 United States
Christine Ohuruogu
 Great Britain
DeeDee Trotter
 United States
2016 Rio de Janeiro
details
Shaunae Miller
 Bahamas
Allyson Felix
 United States
Shericka Jackson
 Jamaica
2020 Tokyo
details
Shaunae Miller-Uibo
 Bahamas
Marileidy Paulino
 Dominican Republic
Allyson Felix
 United States

Multiple medalists

Rank Athlete Nation Olympics Gold Silver Bronze Total
1= Marie-José Pérec  France (FRA) 1992–1996 2 0 0 2
1= Shaunae Miller-Uibo  Bahamas (BAH) 2016–2020 2 0 0 2
2= Olga Bryzgina  Soviet Union (URS)
 Unified Team (EUN)
1988–1992 1 1 0 2
2= Cathy Freeman  Australia (AUS) 1996–2000 1 1 0 2
2= Christine Ohuruogu  Great Britain (GBR) 2008–2012 1 1 0 2
6 Sanya Richards-Ross  United States (USA) 2008–2012 1 0 1 2
7= Christina Lathan  East Germany (GDR) 1976–1980 0 1 1 2
7= Allyson Felix  United States (USA) 2016–2020 0 1 1 2

Medalists by country

Map of countries' best results - Women's 400 metres
Map of countries' best results - Women's 400 metres
Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1=  Bahamas (BAH) 3 0 0 3
1=  France (FRA) 3 0 0 3
3  East Germany (GDR) 2 2 2 6
4  United States (USA) 2 1 4 7
5  Australia (AUS) 2 1 1 4
6  Great Britain (GBR) 1 3 2 6
7  Soviet Union (URS) 1 0 2 3
8  Poland (POL) 1 0 0 1
9  Jamaica (JAM) 0 2 1 3
10=  Czechoslovakia (TCH) 0 1 0 1
10=  Dominican Republic (DOM) 0 1 0 1
10=  Mexico (MEX) 0 1 0 1
10=  Unified Team (EUN) 0 1 0 1
10=  West Germany (FRG) 0 1 0 1
15=  Colombia (COL) 0 0 1 1
15=  Nigeria (NGR) 0 0 1 1
15=  Russia (RUS) 0 0 1 1

Olympic record progression

Men

See also: Men's 400 metres world record progression

Time Athlete Nation Games Round Date
56.8 Herbert Jamison  United States (USA) 1896 Heat 1
54.2 Tom Burke  United States (USA) 1896 Final
50.4 Maxie Long  United States (USA) 1900 Heat 1
49.4 Maxie Long  United States (USA) 1900 Final
49.2 Harry Hillman  United States (USA) 1904 Final
48.4 Wyndham Halswelle  Great Britain (GBR) 1904 Quarterfinal 2
48.2 Charles Reidpath  United States (USA) 1912 Final
48.0 Joseph Imbach  Switzerland (SUI) 1924 Quarterfinal 6
47.8 Horatio Fitch  United States (USA) 1924 Semifinal 1
47.6 WR Eric Liddell  Great Britain (GBR) 1924 Final
47.2 Bill Carr  United States (USA) 1932 Semifinal 1
46.2 WR Bill Carr  United States (USA) 1932 Final
46.2 Arthur Wint  Jamaica (JAM) 1948 Final
45.9 George Rhoden  Jamaica (JAM) 1952 Final
45.9 Otis Davis  United States (USA) 1960 Quarterfinal 4
45.5 Otis Davis  United States (USA) 1960 Semifinal 1
44.9 WR Otis Davis  United States (USA) 1960 Final
44.83 Lee Evans  United States (USA) 1968 Semifinal 2
43.86 WR Lee Evans  United States (USA) 1968 Final
43.71 Quincy Watts  United States (USA) 1992 Semifinal 1
43.50 Quincy Watts  United States (USA) 1992 Final
43.49 Michael Johnson  United States (USA) 1996 Final
43.03 WR Wayde van Niekerk  South Africa (RSA) 2016 Final

Women

See also: Women's 400 metres world record progression

Time Athlete Nation Games Round Date
54.4 Antónia Munkácsi  Hungary (HUN) 1964 Heat 1
53.1 Ann Packer  Great Britain (GBR) 1964 Heat 3
52.7 Ann Packer  Great Britain (GBR) 1964 Semifinal 1
52.0 Betty Cuthbert  Australia (AUS) 1964 Final
52.03 Colette Besson  France (FRA) 1968 Final
51.94 Charlene Rendina  Australia (AUS) 1972 Heat 1
51.71 Györgyi Balogh  Hungary (HUN) 1972 Quarterfinal 3
51.68 Helga Seidler  East Germany (GDR) 1972 Semifinal 1
51.47 Monika Zehrt  East Germany (GDR) 1972 Semifinal 2
51.08 Monika Zehrt  East Germany (GDR) 1972 Final
50.48 Irena Szewińska  Poland (POL) 1976 Semifinal 1
49.28 WR Irena Szewińska  Poland (POL) 1976 Final
48.88 Marita Koch  East Germany (GDR) 1980 Final
48.83 Valerie Brisco-Hooks  United States (USA) 1984 Final
48.65 Olha Bryzhina  Soviet Union (URS) 1988 Final
48.25 Marie-José Pérec  France (FRA) 1996 Final

Intercalated Games

The 1906 Intercalated Games were held in Athens and at the time were officially recognised as part of the Olympic Games series, with the intention being to hold a games in Greece in two-year intervals between the internationally-held Olympics. However, this plan never came to fruition and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) later decided not to recognise these games as part of the official Olympic series. Some sports historians continue to treat the results of these games as part of the Olympic canon.[2]

At this event a men's 400 m was held and Paul Pilgrim, a 1904 Olympic gold medalist in the 4-mile team race, won the competition. Wyndham Halswelle, later the 1908 Olympic champion in the 800 metres, was the runner-up while Australia's Nigel Barker was the bronze medalist.[3]

Games Gold Silver Bronze
1906 Athens
details
 Paul Pilgrim (USA)  Wyndham Halswelle (GBR)  Nigel Barker (AUS)

Non-canonical Olympic events

In addition to the main 1900 Olympic men's 400 metres, a handicap competition was contested seven days after the final. Twenty men entered, with Hungary's Pál Koppán, Germany's Albert Werkmüller and Dave Hall of the United States being the only non-French entrants. Koppán was the victor with a handicap of 35 m, Werkmüller was second with a handicap of 35 m, and Frenchman André Lemonnier took third with a 26 m handicap.[4][5]

Two professionals-only events were also held in 1900. The 400 metres world record holder Edgar Bredin won with a time of 53.2 seconds, ahead of Legrain of France (possibly Paul Legrain) and his compatriot Jules Bouchoux. A handicap professional race was also held but the results have not been located.[5][6]

A handicap 440-yard dash (402.3 m) competition was held at 1904 Summer Olympics after the 1904 Olympic men's 400 m race. An American, F. Darcy, won the race with a time of 50.8 (12-yard start). George Underwood, also of the United States, came second with no handicap and James Peck of Canada came third off a six-yard headstart.[5]

These events are no longer considered part of the official Olympic history of the 400 metres or the athletics programme in general. Consequently, medals from these competitions have not been assigned to nations on the all-time medal tables.[5]

Finishing times

Top ten fastest Olympic times

References

Participation and athlete data
Olympic record progressions
Specific
  1. ^ London 1908 Olympic Games. Britannica. Retrieved on 2014-05-25.
  2. ^ 1906 Athina Summer Games. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 2014-01-26.
  3. ^ Athletics at the 1906 Athina Summer Games: Men's 400 metres. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 2014-01-26.
  4. ^ Athletics at the 1900 Paris Summer Games: Men's 400 metres, Handicap. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 2014-06-28.
  5. ^ a b c d Handicap Olympic Athletics Events. GBR Athletics. Retrieved on 2014-04-18.
  6. ^ Athletics at the 1900 Paris Summer Games: Men's 400 metres, Professionals. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 2014-06-28.
  7. ^ "Men's 400m".
  8. ^ "Women's 400m".