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American trio share silver lining in 500m speed skating

Here's a good question to use the next time you want to dazzle your friends in a quiz – when did three American athletes all win the same medal in the same individual race – and who beat them all? It sounds impossible, but it happened in Grenoble in 1968.

The event was the final of the women's 500m speed skating. Victory had been predicted for the Soviet skater Tatyana Sidorova, who had broken the world record just a week before. And yet, this was not to be her day as she finished a startling two seconds slower than her record time.

Instead, the early lead was held by an American, Mary Meyers, before she was herself overtaken by another Soviet, the up-and-coming Lyudmila Titova. She skated 46.1secs in the ninth pair, with Meyer’s time of 46.3secs now relegated to the silver position.

The next pair to skate included the 16-year-old American Dianne Holum, who was clearly on course for a strong time. She crossed the line in 46.3secs – exactly the same time as Meyers. And then, in the final pair, came a third American – Jenny Fish. She had not been counted among the best-known competitors but put in the best performance of her career to finish in – yes, 46.3secs.

There were now three athletes – all Americans – tied on the same time. The decision was made that they could not be separated, so each was given a silver medal, and no bronze was awarded.

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