Other Resources > Web Articles > HISTORY OF RACE WALKING IN THE OLYMPICS
 
The inauguration of the modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 is a fascinating story in its own right. It was spearheaded by the French aristocrat Baron Pierre de Coubertin who was interested in promoting internationalism through amateur athletics. The excavation of athletic sites from ancient Olympia's ruins during the late 1800's provided great inspiration to recreate the ancient athletic competitions -- with modern sporting events -- and de Coubertin doggedly pushed the idea into reality. Though the modern Olympics got off to a slow and shaky start, they were well established by the time of World War I.
 
Walking first appeared in the 1904 Games as part of the "all-rounders" event (precursor to the modern decathlon). In the 1906 "Interim" Games, walking in the "all-rounders" was replaced by 1500-meter and 3000-meter race walks. The Interim (or Intercalated) Games were to be held by the Greeks every four years between the Olympics. This was, however, the only time they were held. It was the first time race walking appeared (although considered unofficial by the International Olympic Committee). In 1908, the 3500-meter and 10-mile race walks were the first official race walks in the Olympics. Except for the Amsterdam Games of 1928 (when a dispute caused the race walks to be dropped), race walking has been a legitimate part of every Olympic Games since 1908. The women's race walk was added to the Games in 1992.
 
The following tables show the top three finishers (and their country code) and the performance of all American and Canadian competitors. Codes used below are: *--new Olympic record; DNF--did not finish; DQ--disqualified; e--estimated time; and n/a--not available.  Entries show: place# - time - name (country code).
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SOURCE: This page was compiled by site manager, Phil Howell, based on a variety of sources. It is accurate to the best of the author's knowledge. Comments and corrections (especially missing times - see n/a) should be directed to Phil by way of the Contact Us page.
 

1896 - ATHENS - no race walks

1900 - PARIS - no race walks

1904 - ST. LOUIS - An 800-yard walk was one of the 10 events in the "All Round Championship" - forerunner of the modern decathlon. All 10 events were held on the same day.
 
Men's 800-Yard Walk
1 - 3:59.0 - Thomas Kiely (IRL)
   - 3:59.0 - John Holloway (GBR/IRL)
3 - 4:11.0 - Ellery Clark (USA)
4 - 4:13.0 - Adam Gunn (USA)
5 - 4:20.0 - Thomas Truxtun Hare (USA)
6 - 4:49.0 - John Grieb (USA)

1906 - ATHENS - The Intercalated (or "Interim") Games were to be held by the Greeks every four years between the Olympics. This was, however, the only time they were held. It was the first time race walking appeared (although considered unofficial by the International Olympic Committee). Bonhag, having failed to win his 5-mile and 1500-meter running races, entered the 1500-meter race having never competed a walking race before. Using a few pre-race instructions, he won the race.
 
Men's 1500-meter Race Walk
1 - 7:12.6 - George Bonhag (USA)
2 - 7:19.8 - Donald Linden (CAN)
3 - 7:24.0 - Konstantin Spetsiotis (GRE)
Men's 3000-meter Race Walk
1 - 15:13.2 - Gyorgy Sztantics (HUN)
2 - 15:20.0 - Hermann Muller (GER)
3 - 15:33.0 - Georgios Saridakis (GRE)

1908 - LONDON - These was the first "official" race walks in the Olympics. Great Britain took the top five spots in the 10-miler. There were no entries from the U.S.
 
Men's 3500-meter Race Walk
1 - 14:55.0 - George Larner (GBR)
2 - 15:07.4 - Ernest Webb (GBR)
3 - 15:43.4 - Harry Kerr (AUS/NZE)
4 - 15:49.8 - George Goulding (CAN)
(Kerr was from NZE, but raced for AUS)
Men's 10-Mile Race Walk
1 - 1:15:57 - George Lamer (GBR)
2 - 1:17:31 - Ernest Webb (GBR)
3 - 1:21:20 - Edward Spencer (GBR)
In preliminary heats:
    George Goulding (CAN) = DNF

1912 - STOCKHOLM - These games were very well run, and significantly helped to establish the modern Olympic Games.
 
Men's 10K Race Walk
1 - 46:28.4 - George Goulding (CAN)
2 - 46:50.4 - Ernest Webb (GBR)
3 - 47:37.6 - Fernando Altimani (ITA)
DNF - Frank Kaiser (USA)
In preliminary heats:
    Edward Renz (USA) = too slow
    Sam Schwartz (USA) = too slow
    Arthur Voellmeke (USA) = too slow

1916 - BERLIN - canceled due to war  (In ancient times, wars stopped for major athletic events; in modern times, the Games have been canceled three times due to war.)

1920 - ANTWERP - Frigerio, a most colorful character, gave the mid-field band conductor several pages of sheet music he requested to be played during the race. He won easily, even pausing once to admonish the band's selection of tempo. In honor of their war effort, women were allowed to participate in a few events for the first time - against de Coubertin's wishes.
 
Men's 3000-meter Race Walk
1 - 13:14.2 - Ugo Frigerio (ITA) *
2 - 13:20.6 - George Parker (AUS)
3 - 13:23.6 - Richard Remer (USA)
5 - 13:26.8 - Thomas Maroney (USA)
8 -     n/a   - William Roelker (USA)
In preliminary heats:
    Edward Freeman (CAN) = too slow
    Joseph Pearman (USA) = DQ
Men's10K Race Walk
1 - 48:06.2   - Ugo Frigerio (ITA)
2 - 49:40.8e - Joseph Pearman (USA)
3 - 49:44.4e - Charles Gunn (GBR)
6 - 50:20.6e - Thomas Maroney (USA)
In preliminary heats:
    Edward Freeman (CAN) = DQ
    William Plant (USA) = too slow
    William Roelker (USA) = too slow

1924 - PARIS - At the request of Pierre de Coubertin who was planning to retire, the games were moved from Amsterdam to Paris. The first winter games were also held in France. The movie "Chariots of Fire" recreated some of the drama of these Games
 
Men's 10K Race Walk
1 - 47:49.0 - Ugo Frigerio (ITA)
2 - 48:37.9 - George Goodwin (GBR)
3 - 49:08.0 - Cecil McMaster (SAF)
9 -     n/a   - Harry Hinkel (USA)
In preliminary heats:
    Edward Freeman (CAN) = too slow
    P. Granville (CAN) = too slow

1928 - AMSTERDAM - no race walks due to a controversy over their inclusion. Women's track and field events were included for the first time.

1932 - LOS ANGELES - The depression and isolation of California resulted in the lowest level of participation in the Games since 1906. Automatic timing and photo-finish cameras were introduced there.
 
Men's 50K Race Walk
1 - 4:50:10 - Thomas Green (GBR)
2 - 4:57:20 - Janis Dalinch (LAT)
3 - 4:59:06 - Ugo Frigerio (ITA)
8 - 5:28:02 - Ernest Crosbie (USA)
9 - 5:51:00 - William Chisholm (USA)
DNF - Harry Cieman (CAN)
DNF - Harry Hinkel (USA)

1936 - BERLIN - The torch relay and television coverage were introduced there. Canada had no participants in the race walk.
 
Men's 50K Race Walk
 1 - 4:30:41* - H. Harold Whitlock (GBR)
 2 - 4:32:09  - Arthur Schwab (SWI)
 3 - 4:32:42  - Adalberts Bubenko (LAT)
21 - 5:12:00  - Albert Mangan (USA)
23 - 5:20:18  - Ernest Koehler (USA)
26 - 5:31:44  - Ernest Crosbie (USA)

1940 - TOKYO - canceled due to war.

1944 - LONDON - canceled due to war.

1948 - LONDON - Germany and Japan were not invited to participate. With the first participation by Communist countries came the first defections by participants. The USA had no qualifiers for the 10K finals (though Henry Laskau was 7th, Ernest Webber was 8th, and Fred Sharage was disqualified in preliminary heats).
 
Men's 10K Race Walk
1 - 45:13.2 - John Mikaelsson (SWE)
2 - 45:43.8 - Ingemar Johansson (SWE)
3 - 46:00.2 - Fritz Schwab (SWI)
In preliminary heats:
    Henry Laskau (USA) = too slow
    Fred Sharaga (USA) = DQ
    Ernst Webber (USA) = too slow
Men's 50K Race Walk
 1 - 4:41:52 - John Ljunggren (SWE)
 2 - 4:48:17 - Godel Gaston (SWI)
 3 - 4:48:31 - Tebbs Lloyd-Johnson (GBR)
12 - 5:15:16 - Ernest Crosbie (USA)
15 - 5:28:33 - John Deni (USA)
16 - 5:30:14 - Adolph Weinecker (USA)

1952 - HELSINKI - The Soviet Union made its first appearance there. In the 10K, both Schwab and Junk began running 30 yards from the finish, making the judges (who had DQ'ed 7 men in the heats and final) look foolish. The controversies which resulted from this race led Olympic officials to replace the 10K with the 20K in 1956.
 
Men's 10K Race Walk
1 - 45:02.8* John Mikaelsson (SWE)
2 - 45:41.03 Fritz Schwab (SWI)
3 - 45:41.05 Bruno Junk (SOV)
In preliminary heats:
    Price King (USA) = too slow
    Henry Laskau (USA) = DQ
Men's 50K Race Walk
 1 - 4:28:07* - Giuseppe Dordoni (ITA)
 2 - 4:30:17  - Josef Dolezal (CZE)
 3 - 4:31:27  - Antal Roka (HUN)
22 - 5:01:00  - Adolph Weinecker (USA)
25 - 5:04:40  - Fred Hayward (CAN)
DNF - Leo Sjoegren (USA)
DNF - John Deni (USA)

1956 - MELBOURNE - A remote location and several boycotts led to a very low number of competitors. So many disputes had developed over the judging of the comparatively fast-paced 10K race walk in 1952 that it was replaced by the less controversial 20K event in these Games.
 
Men's 20K Race Walk
 1 - 1:31:27 - Leonid Spirin (SOV)
 2 - 1:32:03 - Antanas Mikenas (SOV)
 3 - 1:32:12 - Bruno Junk (SOV)
12 - 1:38:47 - Henry Laskau (USA)
16 - 1:43:26 - Bruce McDonald (USA)
17 - 1:46:25 - James Hewson(USA)
DQ - Alex Oakley (CAN)
Men's 50K Race Walk
 1 - 4:30:42 - Norman Read (NZE)
 2 - 4:32:57 - Yevgeny Maskinskov (SOV)
 3 - 4:35:02 - John Ljunggren (SWE)
 7 - 5:00:16 - Adolph Weinacker (USA)
11 - 5:12:14 - Elliott Denman (USA)
12 - 5:12:34 - Leo Sjogren (USA)

1960 - ROME - hot weather but otherwise without incident.
 
Men's 20K Race Walk
 1 - 1:34:07 - Vladimir Golubnichiy (SOV)
 2 - 1:34:16 - Noel Freeman (AUS)
 3 - 1:34:56 - Stanley Vickers (GDR)
 9 - 1:38:46 - Alex Oakley (CAN)
19 - 1:42:47 - Ronald Zinn (USA)
23 - 1:45:09 - Robert Mimm (USA)
24 - 1:45:11 - Rudolph Haluza (USA)
Men's 50K Race Walk
 1 - 4:25:30* - Donald Thompson (GBR)
 2 - 4:25:47 - John Ljunggren (SWE)
 3 - 4:27:55 - Abdon Pamich (ITA)
 6 - 4:33:09 - Alexander Oakley (CAN)
19 - 4:53:22 - Ronald Laird (USA)
23 - 5:00:48 - Bruce McDonald (USA)
24 - 5:03:15 - John Allen (USA)

1964 - TOKYO - proceeded smoothly and without incident.
 
Men's 20K Race Walk
 1 - 1:29:34* - Kenneth Matthews (GBR)
 2 - 1:31:13 - Dieter Lindner (GDR)
 3 - 1:31:59 - Vladimir Golubnichiy (SOV)
 6 - 1:32:43 - Ronald Zinn (USA)
17 - 1:36:35 - John Mortland (USA)
DNF - Alex Oakley (CAN)
DQ - Ronald Laird (USA)
(Zinn died in Vietnam 9 months later.)
Men's 50K Race Walk
 1 - 4:11:12* - Abdon Pamich (ITA)
 2 - 4:11:31 - Paul Nihill (GBR)
 3 - 4:14:17 - Ingvar Pettersson (SWE)
14 - 4:27:25 - Alex Oakley (CAN)
21 - 4:35:41 - Chris McCarthy (USA)
26 - 4:45:10 - Bruce McDonald (USA)
29 - 4:57:41 - Michael Brodie (USA);

1968 - MEXICO CITY - These Games were famous for a Black Power protest by two U.S. sprinters, and the impact of high altitude. The rarefied air helped short-distance athletes set records, but slowed long-distance athletes not properly trained at altitude. Sex tests were added for women athletes.
 
Men's 20K Race Walk
 1 - 1:33:58 - Vladimir Golubnichiy (SOV)
 2 - 1:34:00 - Jose Pedraza Zuniga (MEX)
 3 - 1:34:03 - Nikolai Smaga (SOV)
 4 - 1:35:00 - Rudolph Haluza (USA)
17 - 1:40:08 - Thomas Dooley (USA)
18 - 1:40:11 - Karl-Heinz Merschenz (CAN)
25 - 1:44:38 - Ronald Laird (USA)
DNF - Felix Cappella (CAN)
Men's 50K Race Walk
 1 - 4:20:13 - Christoph Hohne (GDR)
 2 - 4:30:17 - Antal Kiss (HUN)
 3 - 4:31:55 - Larry Young (USA)
10 - 4:39:13 - Goetz Klopfer (USA)
23 - 4:58:32 - Felix Cappella (CAN)
26 - 5:38:03 - David Romansky (USA)

1972 - MÜNICH - These Games were marked by the kidnap and murder of 11 Israeli athletes by 8 Palestinian terrorists. Full-scale drug testing was begun.
 
Men's 20K Race Walk
 1 - 1:26:42* - Peter Frenkel (GDR)
 2 - 1:26:55 - Vladimir Golubnichiy (SOV)
 3 - 1:27:16 - Hans Reimann (GDR)
10 - 1:32:53 - Larry Young (USA)
15 - 1:34:59 - Thomas Dooley (USA)
19 - 1:38:34 - Goetz Klopfer (USA)
Men's 50K Race Walk
 1 - 3:56:11* - Gernd Kannenberg (GER)
 2 - 3:58:24 - Veniamin Soldatenko (SOV)
 3 - 4:00:46 - Larry Young (USA)
17 - 4:22:52 - William Weigle (USA)
21 - 4:28:43 - Alex Oakley (CAN)
27 - 4:36:07 - Steve Hayden (USA)
DNF - Karl-Heinz Merschenz (CAN)

1976 - MONTREAL - African nations boycotted these Games over New Zealand having played rugby in South Africa.
 
Men's 20K Race Walk
 1 - 1:24:40* - Daniel Bautista Rocha (MEX)
 2 - 1:25:13 - Hans-Georg Reimann (GDR)
 3 - 1:25:29 - Peter Frenkel (GDR)
20 - 1:33:27 - Ronald Laird (USA)
22 - 1:34:19 - Larry Walker (USA)
23 - 1:34:34 - Marcel Jobin (CAN)
29 - 1:36:37 - Todd Scully (USA)
33 - 1:41:37 - Pat Farrelly (CAN)
35 - 1:44:09 - Alex Oakley (CAN)

1980 - MOSCOW - The U.S. and Canada boycotted these Games to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The U.S. team was to include Jim Heiring, Todd Scully and Larry Walker (20K); and Marco Evoniuk, Dan O'Conner and Carl Schueler (50K).
 
Men's 20K Race Walk
1 - 1:23:35* - Maurizio Damilano (ITA)
2 - 1:24:45 - Pyotr Pochinchuk (SOV)
3 - 1:25:58 - Roland Wieser (GDR)
7 - 1:28:36 - Bohdan Bulakowski POL
Men's 50K Race Walk
1 - 3:49:24* - Hartwig Gauder (GDR)
2 - 3:51:25 - Jorge Liopart (SPA)
3 - 3:56:32 - Yevgeny Ivchenko (SOV)

1984 - LOS ANGELES - In retaliation for the 1980 U.S. boycott, the Soviets boycotted these games. For the first time in Olympic history, not one walker was disqualified for improper technique.
 
Men's 20K Race Walk
 1 - 1:23:13* - Ernesto Canto (MEX)
 2 - 1:23:20 - Raul Gonzalez (MEX)
 3 - 1:23:26 - Maurizio Damilano (ITA)
 4 - 1:24:29 - Guillaume Leblanc (CAN)
 7 - 1:25:42 - Marco Evoniuk (USA)
11 - 1:27:06 - Francois Lapointe (CAN)
19 - 1:29:49 - Marcel Jobin (CAN)
23 - 1:30:20 - Jim Heiring (USA)
33 - 1:35:12 - Dan O'Connor (USA)
Men's 50K Race Walk
 1 - 3:47:26* - Raul Gonzalez (MEX)
 2 - 3:53:19 - Bo Gustafsson (SWE)
 3 - 3:53:45 - Alessandro Bellucci (ITA)
 6 - 3:59:46 - Carl Schueler (USA)
14 - 4:22:51 - Vincent O'Sullivan (USA)
DNF - Marco Evoniuk (USA)
DNF - Marcel Jobin (CAN)
DNF - Guillaume Leblanc (CAN)
DQ - Francois Lapointe (CAN)

1988 - SEOUL - The speed of race walkers improved dramatically. In the 20K, 17 walkers beat the 1984 Olympic record. In the 50K, 11 walkers beat the 1984 record.
 
Men's 20K Race Walk
 1 - 1:19:57* - Jozef Pribilinec (CZE)
 2 - 1:20:00 - Ronald Weigel (GDR)
 3 - 1:20:14 - Maurizio Damilano (ITA)
10 - 1:21:29 - Guillaume Leblanc (CAN)
36 - 1:27:26 - Gary Morgan (USA)
37 - 1:27:30 - Jim Heiring (USA)
44 - 1:31:00 - Tim Lewis (USA)
Men's 50K Race Walk
 1 - 3:38:29* - Vyacheslav Ivanenko (SOV)
 2 - 3:38:56 - Ronald Weigel (GDR)
 3 - 3:39:45 - Hartwig Gauder (GDR)
14 - 3:48:15 - Francois Lapointe (CAN)
22 - 3:56:55 - Marco Evoniuk (USA)
23 - 3:56:55 - Carl Schueler (USA)T
34 - 4:12:49 - Andy Kaestner (USA)

1992 - BARCELONA - TV used freeze-framing to repeatedly point out "lifting" not called by the judges. Women participated in the Olympic race walks for the first time.
 
Women's 10K Race Walk
 1 - 44:32 - Chen Yueling (CHN)
 2 - 44:33 - Elena Nikolayeva (EUN)
 3 - 44:41 - Li Chunxiu (CHN)
20 - 46:45 - Michelle Rohl (USA)
21 - 46:50 - Tina Poitras (CAN)
25 - 48:05 - Janice McCaffrey (CAN)
26 - 48:23 - Debbi Lawrence (USA)
27 - 48:26 - Victoria Herazo (USA)
29 - 49:14 - Pascale Grand (CAN)
Men's 20K Race Walk
 1 - 1:21:45 - Daniel Plaza (ESP)
 2 - 1:22:25 - Guillaume LeBlanc (CAN)
 3 - 1:23:11 - Giovanni de Benedictis (ITA)
14 - 1:28:25 - Tim Berrett (CAN)
30 - 1:35:12 - Allen James (USA)
 
Men's 50K Race Walk
 1 - 3:50:13 - Andrey Perlov (EUN)
 2 - 3:52:09 - Carlos Mercenario (MEX)
 3 - 3:53:45 - Ronald Weigel (GER)
23 - 4:13:38 - Carl Schueler (USA)
33 - 4:25:49 - Herman Nelson (USA)
DNF - Marco Evoniuk (USA)
DQ - Tim Berrett (CAN)
DQ - Guillaume Leblanc (CAN)

1996 - ATLANTA
 
Women's 10K Race Walk
 1 - 41:49 - Yelena Nikolayeva (RUS)
ace wal  2 - 42:12 - Elisabetta Perrone (ITA)
 3 - 42:19 - Yan Wang (CHN)
14 - 44:29 - Michelle Rohl (USA)
20 - 45:32 - Debbi Lawrence (USA)
25 - 45:47 - Janice McCaffrey (CAN)
32 - 46:51 - Tina Poitras (CAN)
DQ - Victoria Herazo (USA)
Men's 20K Race Walk
 1 - 1:20:07 - Jefferson Perez (ECU)
 2 - 1:20:16 - Ilya Markov (RUS)
 3 - 1:20:23 - Bernardo Segura (MEX)
36 - 1:27:15 - Martin St. Pierre (CAN)
42 - 1:28:28 - Arturo Huerta (CAN)
50 - 1:32:11 - Curt Clausen (USA)
 
Men's 50K Race Walk
 1 - 3:43:30 - Robert Korzeniowski (POL)
 2 - 3:43:46 - Mikhail Shchennikov (RUS)
 3 - 3:44:19 - Valentin Massana (ESP)
10 - 3:51:28 - Tim Berrett (CAN)
24 - 4:01:18 - Allen James (USA)
26 - 4:03:13 - Andrzej Chylinski (USA)
DQ - Herm Nelson (USA)

2000 - SYDNEY - Robert Korzeniowski of Poland made Olympic history by winning both the 20K and 50K race walks. Women began racing at the 20K distance. Yueling Chen, who won the gold medal for China in the inaugural women's 10K race walk at Barcelona in 1992, became an American citizen and raced for the United States at Sydney.
 
Women's 20K Race Walk
 1 - 1:29:05 - Liping Wang (CHN)
 2 - 1:29:33 - Kjersti Tysse-Plätzer (NOR)
 3 - 1:30:23 - Maria Vasco (ESP)
17 - 1:34:26 - Michelle Rohl (USA)
38 - 1:39:36 - Yueling Chen (USA)
44 - 1:47:20 - Debbi Lawrence (USA)
DQ - Janice McCaffrey (CAN)
Men's 20K Race Walk
 1 - 1:18:59 - Robert Korzeniowski (POL)
 2 - 1:19:03 - Noe Hernandez (MEX)
 3 - 1:19:27 - Vladimir Andreyev (RUS)
24 - 1:25:24 - Arturo Huerta (CAN)
26 - 1:25:29 - Tim Berrett (CAN)
40 - 1:30:32 - Tim Seaman (USA)
 
Men's 50K Race Walk
 1 - 3:42:22 - Robert Korzeniowski (POL)
 2 - 3:43:40 - Algars Fadejevs (LAT)
 3 - 3:44:36 - Joel Sanchez (MEX)
22 - 3:58:14 - Curt Clausen (USA)
28 - 4:03:05 - Philip Dunn (USA)
31 - 4:07:18 - Andrew Hermann (USA)
DQ - Tim Berrett (CAN)
DQ - Arturo Huerta (CAN)

2004 - ATHENS.
 

 
Women's 20K Race Walk
Men's 20K Race Walk
 
Men's 50K Race Walk

2008 - BEIJING.
 

 
Women's 20K Race Walk
Men's 20K Race Walk
 
Men's 50K Race Walk
 
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