News Archive

News Archive

The Historic Series on Olympic Running (VIII): Men’s 10,000m

In fourteen days the Olympic Games will be opening in Athens. Each week we have

been and will continue introducing one of the eleven running disciplines, as

well as naming the favourites for the Olympic gold medals.

This series, however, is on the history of Olympic running—about the

past, rich in medals, of the German track and field athletes from both East

(GDR) and West (FRG). While in the past, German track and field athletes have

been very successful at the Olympic Games, following the results of the world

championships in 2003, one should not expect too much in Athens.

It seems even more appropriate then to remember the great achievements of the

Germans in the past and to honour their performances.

This series on the history of Olympic running will follow the weekly series on

running which focuses on Athens 2004 —out of respect for the great

achievements and as an inspiration for imitation.

Today we will continue with men’s 10,000m.

At the “Intermediate Games“ in Athens in 1906, the 5-mile race

was still being run. Hermann Müller from Germany gave up, and the victory

went to H.G. Hartley (GBR) in 26:11.8. Again in 1908 in London it was still the

5-mile race, which was won by Emil Voigt (GBR) in 25:11.2.

The series of 10,000m races at the Olympic Games was first introduced in

Stockholm — and like the 5,000m, it was the distance of the


Nowadays, one only speaks of the successes of the African runners. But one

country dominated the medals for the men’s 10,000m at the Olympic Games

since 1912:


This sentence appeared in the article about the 5,000m — but here the

Finns took home 2 more bronze medals than in the 5,000, making a total of 15


The men from the north earned 7 gold medals, 4 silver and 4 bronze


Only the Ethiopians come close to the Finns in their collection of precious

medals, with 8 medals including 3 of gold.

Emil Zatopek won gold twice for Czechoslovakia, the Russians earned two gold

medals, and Marocco also could bathe in the glow of two gold medals.

The names of four running personalities rule the world of the 10,000m:

Paavo Nurmi (FIN), Emil Zatopek (CSR), Lasse Viren (FIN) and Haile

Gbrselassie (ETH).

18 countries share the 60 medals.

Hans Grodotzki, with silver, is the only German runner with a


The success list of the German 10,000m runners includes 9 finals finishes from

2nd to 9th place. Next to Hans Grodotzki, the best results for the Germans are

a 5th place finish for Max Syring in 1932 in Los Angeles and Christoph Herle in

1984 in Los Angeles.

Overview of the distribution of medals of the most successful

countries in the 10,000m:

Germany: 0 Gold / 1 Silver / 0 x Bronze / 2 x 5th place / 2 x 6th

place / 2 x 7th place / 2 x 9th place

FIN: 7 G / 4 S / 4 B

ETH: 3 G / 1 S / 4 B

URS: 2 G / 0 S / 1 B

MAR: 2 G / 0 S / 1 B

CSR: 2 G

KEN: 1 G / 3 S / 2 B

USA: 1 G / 1 S

ITA: 1 G / 1 S

POL: 1 G

FRA: 0 G / 3 S

GBR: 0 G / 1 S / 2 B

SWE: 0 G / 1 S / 2 B

AUS: 0 G / 1 S / 2 B

TUN: 0 G / 1 S / 1 B

HUN: 0 G / 1 S

BEL: 0 G / 1 S

POR: 0 G / 1 S

Stockholm 1912 – Only one German runner in the


The 5000m and the 10,000m celebrated their premiere in Stockholm. It was

here that the Finns began their series of victories, led by Hannes Kolehmainen

who won both the 5000m and the 10,000m.

Gregor Vietz of Germany came in 11th and last in the second preliminary. As in

the 5000m, he was not able to qualify for the finals.

Finals (July 8):

1. Hannes Kolehmainen (FIN) 31:20.8 (OR) – 2. Lewis Tewanima (USA)

32:06.6 – 3. Albin Steenroos (FIN) 32:21.8

Antwerp 1920 – Nurmi wins his first Olympic


After the first lap, Nurmi was behind the duo of Guillemot and Wilson by 20

metres and it looked like it was going to be a sensation. Nurmi began his

counterattack in the final lap, and only Guillemot was able to keep up with his

pace and then take over the lead. But Nurmi increased the pace again and took

home his first Olympic medal.

There were no German runners competing in Antwerp.

Finals (August 20):

1. Paavo Nurmi (FIN) 31:45.8 – 2. Joseph Guillemot (FRA) 31:47.2 –

3. James Wilson (GBR) 31:50.8

Paris 1924 – no German runners – Nurmi on the


There were no preliminaries in Paris – 43 participants competed (in

1912 in Stockholm there were 30, in Antwerp 37 participants).

Nurmi was forced by his running association to watch from the sidelines. Ville

Ritola set a new world record, and many experts had expected that Nurmi would

not have had a chance against him.

Finals (July 6):

1. Ville Ritola (FIN) 30:23.2 (WR) – 2. Edvin Wide (SWE) 30:55.2 –

3. Eero Berg (FIN) 31:43.0

Amsterdam 1928 – Nurmi ahead of Ritola – no Germans


The Scandinavians dominated in Amsterdam. Among the first 9 runners were

eight Scandinavians and one Brit. Nurmi picked up the pace on the last 80

metres and won with an Olympic record ahead of his fellow countryman Ritola.

Ritola went on to win the 5000m.

Finals (July 29):

1. Paavo Nurmi (FIN) 30:18.8 (OR) – 2. Ville Ritola (FIN) 30:19.4 –

3. Edwin Wide (SWE) 31:00.8

Los Angeles 1932 – Max Syring fifth

In Los Angeles, the Finns, who were used to winning, for the first time

found competition that could take gold from them: Janusz Kusocinski of Poland.

Earlier in June he had already taken Nurmi’s world record in the 3000m

with a new time of 8:18.8. In Los Angeles he led from the start and won easily

ahead of the Finns.

Ekkehard zur Megede writes that Kusocinski was killed in WWII as a

resistance fighter. Each year in his honour the famous Kusocinski Memorial is

carried out.

Max Syring made almost a capital mistake: he started a final sprint

„almost to unconsciousness“ and thought he was at the finish until

the referees sent him on one final lap. He was still able to maintain a

respectable 5th place finish– and in the 5000m five days later he

finished in 6th place.

Finals: (July 31):

1. Janusz Kusocinski (POL) 30:11.4 (OR) – 2. Volmai Iso-Hollo (FIN)

30:12.6 – 3. Lauri Virtanen (FIN) 30:35.0 – 4. John Savidan (NZL)

31:09.0 - 5. Max Syring 31:35.0

Berlin 1936 – Three Finns ahead of Japan – Max Gebhardt


While there were no German runners competing in the 5000m in Berlin, there

were three runners in the 10,000. Max Gebhardt came in a respectable 7th


But the main roles were played by 3 tall Finns and one small man from Japan

who became the favourite of the Berlin spectators. Ekkehard zur Megede wrote

about Kohei Murakoso that “his early pace making was considered to be

“a ’straw fire’, and they were amazed at how much toughness,

energy and fighting spirit were in him. Nippon’s son made these Olympic

Games an extraordinary event. The three aces from the high north of Europe saw

the small man but really did not see him; one the outside they remained unmoved

by this long-distance greenhorn!”

The Finish favourite was only able to break away from the man from Japan on

the last lap, who had been leading up to 6000m. The Finns then shared the

remaining medals.

Finals (August 2):

1. Ilmari Salminen (FIN) 30 :15.4 – 2. Arvo Askola (FIN) 30:15.6 –

3. Volmari Iso-Hollo (FIN) 30:20.2 – 4. Kohei Murakoso (JPN) 30:25.0

– 5. James Burns (GBR) 30:58.2 – 6. Juan Zabala (ARG) 31:22.0

– Max Gebhardt 31:29.6 ... 21. Walter Schönrock 32:59.0 – 22.

Josef Siegers ...

London 1948 – Zatopek: Triumph of the “Steaming


Megede wrote about the "triumph of the steaming locomotive" in

London – and he was talking about Emil Zatopek. The Finns were not

prepared for Zatopek and were planning on repeating their triple victory from

Berlin. But Zatopek wore out the Finish world record holder Heino with

intermediate sprints until he finally gave up, as did his fellow countryman

Heinström, and of the Finish long-distance gods, only Könönen

survived in 9th place.

German runners were not yet readmitted to the Olympic Games.

Finals (July 30):

1. Emil Zatopek (CSR) 29:59.6 (OR) – 2. Alain Mimoun (FRA) 30:47.4

– 3. Bertil Albertson (SWE) 30:53.6

Helsinki 1952 – Emil Zatopek repeats his


While Herbert Schade shined with the bronze medal in the 5000m in Helsinki,

there were no German participants in the 10,000m.

In Helsinki, Zatopek even managed to win not only the 5000m and the 10,000m,

but also the marathon.

He was of course the favourite for the 10,000m. Alain Mimoun stayed with him up

until 8000m, but then it was over for him as well, and Zatopek steamed off to


Finals (July 20):br> 1. Emil Zatopek (CSR) 29:17.0 (OR) – 2. Alain

Mimoun (FRA) 29:32.8 – 3. Alexander Anufrijew (URS) 29:48.2

Melbourne 1956 – Herbert Schade 9th, Konrad (13th) –

Porbadnik (17th)

In Melbourne the same man won both the 5000m and the 10,000m. It was the

year of the Russian Wladimir Kuz, who wore out his opponents with deadly

intermediate sprints. Gordon Pirie, one of the favourites, became totally

demoralised and came in 8th. Herbert Schade managed to come in ninth. He had

the satisfaction of leaving Alain Mimoun back in 12th place. Walter Konrad came

in 13th and Klaus Porbadnik in 17th, both without times.

Finals (November 23):

1. Wladimir Kuz (URS) 28:45.6 (OR) – 2. Jozsef Kovacs (HUN) 28:52.4

– 3. Allan Lawrence (AUS) 28:53.6 - ... ... 9. Herbert Schade 30:00.6 -

... 13. Walter Konrad (ohne Zeit) - ... 17. Klaus Porbadnik (ohne Zeit)


Rome 1960 - Silver for Hans Grodotzki – Hönicke (12th)

and Höger (17th)

Hans Grodotzki (born 4.04.1936 in Menterode/Harz, 65 kg, 1.75m / ASK

Vorwärts Berlin – Trainer Curt Eins) won the silver medal in Rome in

the 5000m, and with his silver medal in the 10,000m as well, he became the most

successful 10,000m runner in Germany.

It was 20°C and raining in Rome when the 32 runners took off. At 7000m

there was only a quartet left at the front, including Grodotzki, who was hoping

to make gold. At 9,000m the “Blond Hans“ was in the lead, but when

the last lap was rung in, Bolotnikow shot to the lead and no one could follow.

Hans Grodotzki proceeded to run a new German record, however.

Finals (August 27):

1. Pjotr Bolotnikow (URS) 28:32.2 (OR) – 2. Hans Grodotzki 28:37.0

– 3. David Power (AUS) 28:38.2 – ... ... 12. Gerhard Hönicke

29:20.4 - ... ... 17. Xaver Höger 29:58.0

Tokyo 1964 – Ron Clarke with only bronze – Mills wins

– Herrmann 11th

While Harald Norpoth won the silver medal in the 5000m in Tokyo behind an

American, Ron Clarke only came in 9th in the 5000m. Clarke, the world record

holder in the 10,000m was confident that he would win the gold in the


The favourite from Australia was beaten, however, by almost unknown

opponents--William Mills from the USA, a member of the famous Sioux Indian

tribe and the Tunisian Gammoudi, who surprised the big favourite with a

phenomenal sprint on the last lap. Siegfried Herrmann reached 11th


Finals (October 14):

1. William Mills (USA) 28:24.4 (OR) – 2. Mohammed Gammoudi (TUN) 28:24.8

- 3. Ronald Clarke (AUS) 28:25.8 - ... ... 11. Siegfried Herrmann 29:27.0 - ...

... 20. Siegfried Rothe 30:04.6 - ... ... 27. Artur Hannemann 30:56.6

Mexico 1968 – Temu wins the first gold for Kenya – Haase


Ron Clarke was still – or rather again — the world record holder

in the 10,000m with 27:39.6. He and Jürgen Haase, the European champion

from Leipzig, were the favourites for the race. But Ron Clarke failed again

– and collapsed after the finish in the high altitude in Mexico. The high

altitude caused problems for Jürgen Haase as well, although he had

prepared for the altitude by training in the high mountains in the Soviet


Gammoudi came in third and Mamo Wolde „warmed up“ with a second

place finish so he could win gold in the marathon a week later. Nabiba Naftali

Temu was greeted by Keino (who had given up) at the finish as the first great

champion from Kenya in the 10,000m.

Finals (October 13):

1. Naftali Temu (KEN) 29:27.4 – 2. Mamo Wolde (ETH) 29:28.0 – 3.

Mohammed Gammoudi (TUN) 29:34.2 - ... ... 15. Jürgen Haase 30:24.0 - ...

... 18. Manfred Letzerich 30:48.6 - ... ... 23. Lutz Philipp 30:57.0

Munich 1972 – Mielke gave up in the preliminaries –

Letzerich 13th in the 3rd preliminary

Many will still remember the 10,000m in Munich for its great dramatics. For

the first time there were three preliminary races—and many famous names

went down there. The defending champion Temu only came in 12th in the first

preliminary, and other great names did not make it to the finals. Günter

Mielke gave up in the first prelim, and Manfred Letzerich was 14th in the third

prelim in 29:37.8.

The Finns continued their winning series from 1936, but with a bang. Dave

Bedford led the first 1000m in 2:36.8, 1500m in 3:58.2. Bedford led to 5000m

with numerous tactical variations in 13:43.88. The front runners did not even

know what was going on behind them:

Between 4000 and 5000m Lasse Viren touched the inner rim and fell down, and

while Gammoudi, who was in the finals for the 3rd time, stayed down, Viren

jumped up and chased after the field (the Finish Sisu!) and achieved a great

sensation—winning in a world record time.

The Finns had returned to their golden throne of the 10,000m with Lasse

Viren’s win, which he repeated a week later in the 5000m.

Finals (September 3):

1. Lasse Viren (FIN) 27 :38.4 (WR. OR) – 2. Emiel Puttemans (BEL) 27

:39.6 – 3. Miruts Yifter (ETH) 27:41.0 – 4. Mariano Hano (ESP)

27:48.2 – 5. Frank Shorter (USA) 27:51.4 – 6. David Bedford (GBR)


Montreal 1976 – Lasse Viren wins again – Uhlemann in the


There was another fall in the finals (Marc Smet) in Montreal, and while he

did not come back to win, he was able to take 7th place.

Lasse Viren did not compete in the years between the Olympics. But he was in

top form again at the Olympic finals. He ran near the back of the field, but

when things were moving in the front he was alert and right with them. Carlos

Lopes made the pace at the font and Brendan Foster fought to keep with him.

“Leichtathletik“ wrote: “... the whole race was one long

intermediate sprint!“

Until Lasse Viren took over.

Detlef Uhlemann was sick and not in his best form, running 28:29.28 in the

preliminaries. He did not qualify for the finals.

Finals (July 26):

1. Lasse Viren (FIN) 127:40.38 – 2. Carlos Lopes (POR) 27:45.17 –

3. Brendan Foster (GBR) 27 :54.92

Moscow 1980 – Lasse Viren (5th) - Jörg Peter (6th) and

Werner Schildhauer (7th)

What the Finns demonstrated with the man from Japan in Berlin in 1936, the

Ethiopians tried with the Finns in Moscow. 3 Finns and 3 Ethiopians were in the

finals. Two Germans, Jörg Peter and Werner Schildhauer, were also at the


The decision fell to the Ethiopians just 280m before the finish through

Yifter, who went on to win the 5000m as well. The Finns at least managed to get

silver. Lasse Viren fought hard, but he had to settle with just 5th place.

Jörg Peter and Werner Schildhauer placed well in 6th and 7th


Finals (July 27):

1. Miruts Yifter (ETH) 27:41.7 – 2. Kaarlo Maaninka (FIN) 27:44.3 - 3.

Mohammed Kedir (ETH) 27:44.7 – 4. Tolossa Kotu (ETH) 27:46.5 – 5.

Lasse Viren (FIN) 27:50.5 – 6. Jörg Peter 28:05.6 – 7. Werner

Schildhauer 28:11.0

Los Angeles 1984 - Christoph Herle 5th

Christoph Herle made it to the intermediate race in the 5000m, where he then

gave up. In the 10,000m, however, he achieved a great 5th place. He was 6th

across the finish, but the silver medal winner Martti Vainio was later

disqualified for doping.

Finals (August 6):

1. Alberto Cova (ITA) 27:47.54 – 2. Mike McLeod (GBR) 28:06.22 – 3.

Mike Musyoki (KEN) 28:06.46 – 4. Salvatore Antibo (ITA) 28 :06.50 –

5. Christoph Herle 28:08.21

Seoul 1988 – Hansjörg Kunze 6th

Hansjörg Kunze and Arturo Barrios put on a wild sprint on the last

metres, Barrios coming out just ahead. Kunze finished with an excellent 6th

place, which he was able to better in the 5000m with a bronze medal.

Finals (September 26):

1. B.M.Boutayeb (MAR) 27:21.46 (OR) – 2. Salvatore Antibo (ITA) 27:23.55

– 3. Kipkemboi Kimeli (KEN) 27:25.16 – 4. J.-L. Prianon (FRA)

27:36.43 – 5. Arturo Barrios (MEX) 27:39.32 – 6. Hansjörg

Kunze 27:39.36

Barcelona 1992 – Carsten Eich and Franke in the


There were no German runners in the finals.

Stéphane Franke came in 14th in the first preliminary in 28:52.83 and

Carsten Eich 16th in the second prelim in 29:22.19.

The gold medallist, Skah, was booed out at the awards ceremony for having a

fellow Moroccan who was a lap behind lead him and block out the Kenyan


Finals (July 31):

1. Khalid Skah (MAR) 27:46.70 – 2. Richard Chelimo (KEN) 27:47.72 –

3. Addis Abebe (ETH) 28:00.07

Atlanta 1996 – Gebrselassie Gold - Stéphane Franke


In Atlanta, Haile Gebrselassie was able to crown off his great career with

his first gold medal. He just beat the later world record holder from the

real,- BERLIN MARATHON Paul Tergat in his sprint.

Franke came in 9th in the finals, improving his time from the



1. Haile Gebrselassie (ETH) 27:07.34 – 2. Paul Tergat (KEN) 27:08.17

– 3. Salah Hissou (KEN) 27 :24.67 - ... ... 9. Stéphane Franke


Sydney 2000 – Gebrselassie and Tergat even closer at the


In Sydney the final race between the Ethiopian Gebrselassie and Paul Tergat

was even closer. Only 9/100th second separated the two at the finish—and

the many time cross-country world champion Paul Tergat had to be satisfied with

the silver medal.

While Germany at least had one runner in the 5000m in Sydney (Jirka Arndt

(SCC)) who came in an impressive 8th place, there were no German runners in the



1. Haile Gebrselassie (ETH) 27:18.20 – 2. Paul Tergat (KEN) 27:18.29

– 3. Assefa Mezegebu (ETH) 27:19.75

All in all, with only 9 top 9 finishes in the 10,000m at the Olympic

Games since 1912, the Germans results are not outstanding (not to take

anything away from the achievements made, however).

At least Hans Grodotzki secured a spot in the list of medals, which from an

international standpoint is not too much. One medal and the other finals

finishes is the weakest result for the German men in the running events thus

far reviewed.

For the future only a spark of hope remains that better times will come,

which, however, in light of the super power of the African countries looks

pretty much bleak.

But there is no giving up, and definitely - not in


Horst Milde

Interesting tips and supplementary information on the great Olympic history

of the addressed topics may be sent to:

Women’s 800m (Historic Olympic Series I):

Men’s 1500m (Historic Olympic Series II:)

Men’s 800m (Historic Olympic Series III):

Women’s 1500m (Historic Olympic Series IV):

Women’s 5000m (Historic Olympic Series V):

Mens 5000m (Historic Olympic Series VI):

Womenss 10.000m (Historic Olympic Series VII):