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1956 Olympic Games Melbourne, Australia - Men's 800 m

 

 

Host City: Melbourne, Australia Format: Top four in each heat advanced to the final.
Date Started: November 23, 1956 Format: Top three in each heat advanced to the semi-finals.
Date Finished: November 26, 1956
(Competitors: 38; Countries: 25; Finalists: 8)
Venue(s): Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Victoria
Overview by IAAF  1956_melbournestadium.jpg
Courtney was generally regarded as the favourite, though the occasionally brilliant Sowell had his supporters. After Johnson had been the fastest heat winner (1:50.8), Courtney and Spurrier controlled the slow first semi, with the former winning in 1:53.6. In the other, Sowell eased through two laps of 55.0 each, with Boysen also clocking 1:50.0 in a tight finish which left Mike Rawson (GBR) eliminated despite running 1:50.3 for fifth. Courtney led from the gun in the final, but Sowell soon took over, passing 200 in 25.1, and continuing as the front-runner to 600m (1:20.4) where Courtney challenged for the lead. The two Americans battled around the final curve, and as they entered the finishing straight a gap opened between them, which Johnson nipped through. Courtney and the Briton then had an epic struggle throughout the last 90m, Johnson leading for 30m, before the powerful (1.88/81Kg) American edged away. The winning margin was less than a metre, but so exhausted were the two men that the victory ceremony had to be delayed. Before the race Courtney had been so nervous that he lay on the infield immobilised until he realised how foolish he would look laying there while the race started without him.
Summary by Sports-reference.com
At an international meet is Oslo in August 1955, Roger Moens (BEL) won, defeating Norway’s Audun Boysen, in a time of 1:45.7, with Boysen posting 1:45.9, both runners surpassing the world record of Rudolf Harbig, set in 1939. The other great race that year came at the Pan-American Games when Arnie Sowell (USA) defeated his countryman, Lon Spurrier. Sowell was AAU Champion in 1955-56, but American Tom Courtney was probably a slight favorite in Melbourne, having won the US Olympic Trials. Moens could not compete, having injured his knee a few months before the Olympics. In the Olympic final, Courtney led at the start but Sowell soon took over. He led thru 600 metres, the first lap done in 52.8. At 600, four were in contention for medals – Courtney, Sowell, Boysen and Britain’s Derek Johnson. At the top of the stretch, Johnson and Courtney took a slight lead and battled together to the line, with Courtney winning in the lean.
 

800

Courtney (153) passes Johnson 
with a supreme effort.

The finalists lined up in gusty conditions, while the last bend was still being compacted by two large rollers. Fortunately, the attention of the starters was alerted. After a delayed start, American Tom Courtney, who was the favorite for this event, went straight into the lead from compatriot Arnie Sowell and Britain’s Derek Johnson. On the back straight, Sowell took over and led Courtney and Johnson through 400 in 52.6. The two Americans stayed ahead in the next 200, while Boysen moved up to Johnson. On the crown of the last bend Courtney moved up beside Sowell, and the two Americans ran side by side into the final straight, with Johnson in hot pursuit. But then the Americans moved apart, allowing Johnson to sprint through between them. For “eight unbelievable strides,” as The Times correspondent put it (Nov. 27, 1956), Johnson was in the lead. But Courtney showed his amazing strength by responding and gaining a two-foot lead over Johnson at the tape. Boysen finished as fast as Johnson and was only 4/10 of a second behind Courtney for the bronze. A fading Sowell was fourth just 2/10 back.

1. Courtney USA 1:47.7; 2. Johnson GBR 1:47.8; 3. Boysen NOR 1:48.1; 4. Sowell USA 1:48.3; 5. Farrell GBR 1:49.2; 6. Spurrier USA 1:49.3.

 
Results
This one Olympiad saw the use of starting blocks from a waterfall start for the 800 meters. All subsequent races have used a standing start in lanes, breaking after the first turn (known as a one turn stagger). Out of the blocks, Tom Courtney got the edge around the turn, but by the end of the turn Arnie Sowell edged into the lead. Over the next 150 metres, Sowell opened up as much as a three metre lead, but Courney didn't go away. He bided his time for the next lap working his way back to Sowell's shoulder into the final turn and he brought Audun Boysen and Derek Johnson with him. Coming off the final turn it was the two Americans shoulder to shoulder, Sowell on the inside and Courtney on the outside looking like they would fight each other to the finish line like so many domestic races earlier in the season. Johnson had other ideas, squeezing between the two and into daylight. Again Courtney didn't go away, instead accelerating to keep pace, then with a final burst of speed, passing Johnson 20 metres before the tape to take the gold. Boysen followed Courtney past Sowell to narrowly capture bronze.
80 m Hurdles Women Final 28 November
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 10,96 Shirley Strickland de la Hunty Australia AUS 31 OR 10.7 h
2 11,12 Gisela Köhler-Birkemeyer Germany GER 24 11.9 h
3 11,25 Norma Thrower Australia AUS 20 11.0 h
4 11,25 Galina Bystrova Soviet Union URS 22 11.0 h
5 11,50 Mariya Golubnichaya Soviet Union URS 32 11.3 h
6 11,60 Gloria Cooke-Wigney Australia AUS 22 11.4 h
80 m Hurdles Women Semi-Finals Heat One 27 November
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 10,89 Q Shirley Strickland de la Hunty Australia AUS 31 (=)OR 10.8 h
2 10,93 Q Gisela Köhler-Birkemeyer Germany GER 24 (=)OR 10.8 h
3 11,12 Q Mariya Golubnichaya Soviet Union URS 32 11.0 h
4 11,37 Marthe Lambert France FRA 20 11.1 h
5 11,42 Berta Díaz Cuba CUB 20 11.2 h
6 11,61 Carole Quinton Great Britain GBR 20 11.4 h
80 m Hurdles Women Semi-Finals Heat Two 27 November
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 11,14 Q Galina Bystrova Soviet Union URS 22 11.0 h
2 11,20 Q Norma Thrower Australia AUS 20 11.0 h
3 11,25 Q Gloria Cooke-Wigney Australia AUS 22 11.1 h
4 11,30 Zenta Gastl-Kopp Germany GER 22 11.1 h
5 11,47 Elaine Winter South Africa RSA 24 11.3 h
6 11,51 Margaret Stuart New Zealand NZL 22 11.3 h
80 m Hurdles Women Round One Heat One 27 November
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 11,18 Q Zenta Gastl-Kopp Germany GER 22 (=)OR 10.9 h
2 11,51 Q Berta Díaz Cuba CUB 20 11.4 h
3 11,63 Q Carole Quinton Great Britain GBR 20 11.4 h
4 11,83 Barbara Mueller United States USA 23 11.6 h
5 12,66 Milena Greppi Italy ITA 27 12.3 h
80 m Hurdles Women Round One Heat Two 27 November
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 11,02 Q Shirley Strickland de la Hunty Australia AUS 31 OR 10.8 h
2 11,25 Q Mariya Golubnichaya Soviet Union URS 32 11.1 h
3 11,46 Q Margaret Stuart New Zealand NZL 22 11.3 h
4 12,02 Constance Darnowski United States USA 21 11.9 h
5 12,06 Pauline Threapleton-Wainwright Great Britain GBR 23 11.9 h
80 m Hurdles Women Round One Heat Three 27 November
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 11,11 Q Gisela Köhler-Birkemeyer Germany GER 24 11.0 h
2 11,28 Q Elaine Winter South Africa RSA 24 11.1 h
3 11,45 Q Gloria Cooke-Wigney Australia AUS 22 11.4 h
4 11,50 Angèle Picado France FRA 21 11.5 h
5 11,59 Niliya Besedina-Kulakova Soviet Union URS 20 11.5 h
6 12,02 Irene Robertson United States USA 25 11.9 h
7 12,20 Manolita Cinco Philippines PHI 12.1 h
80 m Hurdles Women Round One Heat Four 27 November
Rank Mark Athlete Country NOC Age Records Notes
1 10,94 w Q Norma Thrower Australia AUS 20 10.8w h
2 11,09 w Q Galina Bystrova Soviet Union URS 22 10.9w h
3 11,18 w Q Marthe Lambert France FRA 20 10.9w h
4 11,22 w Maria Sander Germany GER 32 11.1w h
5 12,15 w Francisca Sanopal Philippines PHI 11.8w h
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

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