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Summer Olympics: Rio gold medallist David Rudisha among most successful male 800m runners

David Rudisha
David Rudisha
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 03 Mar 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

The 800m is one of the middle-distance race events in the multi-disciplined athletics program at the Summer Olympics.

The men's 800m event has been part of the multi-sport event since 1896, while the women's 800m event was introduced in 1928.

With the Tokyo Olympics fast approaching, let's look at the most successful male 800m runners at the Summer Olympics.

We shall see where David Rudisha, who has won gold at the last two Olympic Games, features on this list.

(Note: Ranking is based on the gold medal count. If athletes have the same number of gold medals, the number of silver medals followed by bronze medals have been used as the deciding factors for the rankings)

(*Total Medals won here refers to medals won by the respective athlete only in the individual 800m Olympic event)


#5 - Melvin Sheppard (USA)

Total Medals Won*: 2 (G-1, S-1, B-0)

1908: Gold, 1912: Silver

Melvin Sheppard at the 1908 London Olympics
Melvin Sheppard at the 1908 London Olympics

Melvin Sheppard won the 800m gold at the 1908 Summer Olympics with a time of 1min 52.8sec. Four years later, in 1912, the American picked up the 800m silver medal with a timing of 1:52.0.

Sheppard has also won three other medals in athletics at the Olympic Games.


#5 - Joaquim Cruz (Brazil)

Total Medals Won: 2 (G-1, S-1, B-0)

1984: Gold, 1988: Silver

Joaquim Cruz stands on the podium with his gold medal alongside silver medallist Sebastian Coe and bronze medallist Earl Jones after winning the final of the Men
Joaquim Cruz stands on the podium with his gold medal alongside silver medallist Sebastian Coe and bronze medallist Earl Jones after winning the final of the Men's 800 metres event at the 1984 Summer Olympics

Joaquim Cruz won the gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in a time of 1:43.00.

The Brazilian followed up the 1984 gold with a silver medal at the 1988 Summer Games with a timing of 1:43.90.


#1 - Douglas Lowe (Great Britain)

Total Medals Won: 2 (G-2, S-0, B-0)

1924: Gold, 1928: Gold

Former Olympic champion Douglas Lowe is sworn in as a Queen
Former Olympic champion Douglas Lowe is sworn in as a Queen's Counsel at the House of Lords in London in 1964

Douglas Lowe is one of four athletes tied at No. 1 on this list, with each of them having won two gold medals each in the 800m event.

Lowe won gold at the 1924 Summer Olympics in a time of 1:52.4. Four years later, the British athlete picked up a second gold medal with a timing of 1:51.8.


#1 - Mal Whitfield (USA)

Total Medals Won: 2 (G-2, S-0, B-0)

1948: Gold, 1952: Gold

Mal Whitfield with his gold medal after winning the Men
Mal Whitfield with his gold medal after winning the Men's 800 Metres at Wembley Stadium during the Summer Olympics, 1948

Mal Whitfield won gold at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London with a time of 1:49.2. Four years later, the American won a second gold in Helsinki with the same timing.

Whitfield won five medals across athletic events in his Olympic career.


#1 - Peter Snell (New Zealand)

Total Medals Won: 2 (G-2, S-0, B-0)

1960: Gold, 1964: Gold

Peter Snell of New Zealand (centre) on the winner
Peter Snell of New Zealand (centre) on the winner's podium after winning the 800 Metres event at the Olympic Games in Rome, 3rd September 1960

Peter Snell won gold in the 800m event at the 1960 Olympic Games with a time of 1:46.3. At the next Summer Olympics, he won his second gold with a timing of 1:45.1.

The Kiwi won an additional gold at the 1964 Games in the 1500m event.

Snell became the first man in more than four decades to win the 800m and the 1,500m gold at the same Olympic Games - an achievement that has not been matched since.


#1 - David Rudisha (Kenya)

Total Medals Won: 2 (G-2, S-0, B-0)

2012: Gold, 2016: Gold

Gold medalist David Lekuta Rudisha of Kenya poses during the medal ceremony for the Men
Gold medalist David Lekuta Rudisha of Kenya poses during the medal ceremony for the Men's 800m Final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

David Lekuta Rudisha won gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics in a world record time of 1:40.91. Rudisha became the first athlete to run 800m in under 1:41.

At the 2016 Rio Games, the Kenyan won his second gold in the event with a timing of 1:42.15.

Rudisha became the first runner since Snell to win back-to-back gold medals in the 800m event at the Summer Olympics. He also holds the top three fastest-ever timings in the 800m race.

While he had been training to compete in the Tokyo Games, Rudisha underwent ankle surgery in May 2020. It is not known if he will be participating in the Tokyo Olympics later this year.


Also Read: Top 5 most successful American male sprinters at Summer Olympics

Published 03 Mar 2021
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