Douglas Lowe was the first man to retain an Olympic 800 metres title and he surprisingly won his first Olympic gold medal in 1924, before he had won an AAA title. At Highgate School, Lowe won the Public Schools half-mile in 1920 and while at Pembroke College, Cambridge, he won a blue for soccer and athletics. He finished third in the 880 yards against Oxford in 1921 bef0ore winning the event for the next three years and in 1924 he also won the mile.
Despite reaching the 880 yards final at the 1922 and 1923 AAA Championships, Lowe failed both times to finish in the first three; but in 1924 he was a close second to Henry Stallard. Lowe was not, therefore, Britain's first-string for the 800 metres at the Paris Olympics and was a surprise winner in 1:52.4 seconds, which beat the British record set by Albert Hill in the previous Olympic final. He came close to winning a second medal when he finished fourth in the 1,500 metres. He continued to show impressive form in the years between the 1924 and 1928 Olympics and in 1926, after setting a world record for 600 years, he was narrowly defeated over 880 yards by the German Otto Peltzer at the AAA Championships. Peltzer set a new world record of 1:51.6 seconds and Lowe was credited with an estimated 1:52.0 seconds, which was also inside the old world record.
In 1927 Lowe finally won his first AAA title; in fact, he won three. He finished first in the 440 yards and 880 yards and was an Achilles Club team that won the 4×440 yards relay. He also showed a surprising turn of speed as a member of the Achilles team which was third in the 4×110 yards relay. He retained both his 440 yards and 880 yards AAA titles in 1928 and then won his second Olympic gold medal where he devastated a world class field with a new Olympic record of 1:51.8 seconds. Later in the Amsterdam Games, he ran a 47.6 second leg on the 4×400 metre relay team that set a new British record of 3:16.4 seconds to finish fifth place.
Lowe ran two more magnificent races before he retired at the end of the 1928 season. An 880 yards relay leg, estimated at 1:51.0 seconds, in the British Empire vs. USA match was probably the fastest performance of his entire career. He followed that with a British record of 1:51.2 seconds for 800 metres.
Douglas Lowe was Called to the Bar of the Inner Temple in 1928, became a bencher in 1957 and took silk in 1964. He was deputy chairman of Warwick quarter sessions, Recorder of Lincoln and a Recorder of the Crown Court. Despite his busy legal career, Lowe found time to serve as Honorary Secretary of the amateur Athletic Association from 1931 to 1938.
Personal Bests: 440y – 48.8 (1927); 800 – 1:51.2 (1928); 1500 – 3:57.0 (1924); Mile – 4:21.0 (1925).
Douglas Gordon LOWE
Athlete Olympic Results Content