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Paris 1924


Lowe prevails after favourite fades

Lowe prevails after favourite fades


Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe revived British domination of men’s middle distance running in the 1980s, some sixty years after another group of runners had also led the world.


Ovett and Coe swapping world records with every run stirred the British imagination like seldom before but at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris it was another pair of British runners who were aiming to stealing the limelight.

Henry Stallard and Douglas Lowe entered the competition as favourites, with Stallard thought likely by most observers to take the honours.

Both athletes won their opening heats in the Olympic Stadium and likewise prevailed in their semi-finals to book their places in the nine-man dash for gold.

Stallard, however, was nursing a minor leg injury and the watching crowds were denied the chance to see the world’s two finest two-lap runners at their best.

It was left to Lowe and Swiss runner Paul Martin to vie for the gold medal and after an evenly paced first 700m it was left to a frantic dash down the finishing straight.

Lowe, his face contorted with physical exertion in the closing strides, just held off Martin, clocking a time of 1 minute 52.4secs. American Erick Schuyler claimed the bronze with Stallard claiming a valiant fourth place.

Days later Stallard, his leg injury improved, won the bronze medal behind Flying Finn Paavo Nurmi in the 1500m final.

Lowe continued to excel in the 800m and proved 1924 was no fluke when he retained the title in more emphatic style four years later in Amsterdam.

Discover the best photos of Paris 1924

  • Johnny Weissmuller (USA)

    A part of Hollywood legend for his role as Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller was nonetheless an accomplished swimmer. At the Paris 1924 Games, he won gold in the 100m freestyle, 400m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay. We see him here after his 400m freestyle surrounded by his fellow medal-winners, Sweden’s Arne Borg (2nd, on the right) and the USA’s Andrew Charlton (3rd, on the left)

  • Paavo Nurmi (FIN)

    Finnish athlete Paavo Nurmi won five gold medals at the Paris 1924 Games. He won the individual cross country, team cross country, the 1500m, 5000m and the team 3000m events. On 10 July 1924, he won the 1500m before victoriously taking gold, 55 minutes later (!) in the 5000m


  • Winner’s medal Paris 1924

    The reverse of the medal is occupied by the representation of an athlete helping one of his opponents to stand. This motif thus perfectly illustrates the solidarity that we expect from any athletes taking part in the Olympic Games. Besides this, the Olympic rings appear for the first time on a medal (they are visible here on the upper part of the medal)

  • Liddell Chaired

    18th July 1924: Eric Liddell (1902 - 1945), winner of the 400 metres at the 1924 Paris Olympics, is paraded around Edinburgh University after his victory. He was known as the 'Flying Scotsman' and was immortalised in the film Chariots of Fire. (Photo by Firmin/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

  • Liddell Triumphant

    18th July 1924: Scottish athlete Eric Liddell (1902 - 1945) is paraded around Edinburgh University after winning the 400 metres at the 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric Liddell, known as the 'Flying Scotsman' went to the Paris Olympics in 1924 as the favourite t

  • Eric Liddell

    Scottish athlete and missionary, Eric Henry Liddell (1902 -1945) being carried round the streets after his Olympic victory. Eric Liddell, known as the 'Flying Scotsman' went to the Paris Olympics in 1924 as the favourite to win the 100 metres race but refused to run because he felt that running on a Sunday conflicted with his Christian beliefs. He won a bronze medal in the 200 metres event instead and then ran the 400 metre race despite having little experience at the distance. He not only won the gold medal but broke the world record by completing the race in 47.6 seconds, an achievement which is celebrated in the 1981 film 'Chariots of Fire'. Liddell gained two degrees, one in science and the other in divinity, before leaving Britain to work as a Scottish Congregational Church missionary in China as his parents had before him. Original Publication: People Disc - HG0205 (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)