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Tom Burke

Thomas Edward Burke (born January 15, 1875 in Boston; died February 14, 1929) was an American athlete. He was the first Olympic champion in the 100 and 400 m.


The start of the 100 m final in Athens, 1896. Burke is second from the left.

Burke, a student at Boston University, was a reputed runner in the 400 m or 440 y, having won the AAU[?] title (440 y) in 1895. He had no such reputation for the first event he entered in the inaugural Olympic Games in Athens, 1896. With many top sprinters absent, Tom Burke surprisingly won the event. He was also noted for his "crouch start", which was uncommon at that time but standard use now. At the same Olympics, Burke also won the 400 m, his top event.

Later in his career, Burke specialised in the longer distances, winning ICAAAA[?] titles in the 440 and 880 y events. In 1897, he was one of the initators of the annually held Boston Marathon, inspired by the success of the marathon event at he 1896 Olympics.

Burke later became a lawyer, but was also a part-time sports journalist and athletics coach.



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