High for Lowe as Briton pulls off a shock in the 800m

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.

Picture by 1294 IOC

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.

1294 IOC

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.