Merv Lincoln

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Merv Lincoln
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia
Commonwealth Games
Silver medal icon (S initial).svg Cardiff 1958 One mile

Mervyn George "Merv" Lincoln (22 November 1933 1 May 2016) [1] [2] [3] was an Australian middle-distance runner who won a silver medal in the mile run at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games and twice competed in the Summer Olympic Games.


Merv Lincoln was born in Leongatha, Victoria [1] and raised in Wodonga, where for many years in his honour there has been a Lincoln Causeway adjacent to the Hume Freeway. [2]

He qualified for the 1500 metres final at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, finishing 12th. [1] He was tipped as a potential successor to the retiring John Landy as Australia's leading miler; [4] however, newcomer Herb Elliott defeated him at the 1957 national championships. [5]

Lincoln ran his first four-minute mile on 23 March 1957, the eleventh man in the world and the third Australian to accomplish that feat. [6] His time of 3:58.9 was less than a second short of Landy's world record of 3:58.0. [7] Despite his loss to Elliott at the Australian championships he did also win a national championship mile that year, winning the United States championship race as an outside competitor. [8] Track & Field News ranked him #7 in the world for 1957, one place below his Australian rival Elliott. [9]

Lincoln reached his peak in 1958 but was overshadowed by the rapidly improving Elliott. [10] The Australian team of Elliott, Lincoln, and Albie Thomas swept the medals in the mile at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Lincoln running 4:01.80 for silver. [11] He set his personal mile best of 3:55.9 in Dublin on 6 August 1958, [6] finishing more than a second under Derek Ibbotson's world record of 3:57.2 yet still only being the runner-up as Elliott won in a new record time of 3:54.5. [12] Track & Field News ranked Lincoln as second in the world that year; however, that proved to be the last time he was ranked among the world's top ten, [9] and at the 1960 Olympics in Rome he failed to qualify from the heats. [1]

He was coached by the Austrian-born Franz Stampfl, a bitter rival of Elliott's coach Percy Cerutty. [13] Stampfl stated Lincoln only trained one hour a day, in contrast to the harder training of Elliott. [13]

He died on 1 May 2016, aged 82. [2] [14]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 "Merv Lincoln Bio, Stats and Results". Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 18 April 2020. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 Peter de Kruijff, "Wodonga 1950s one-mile track star Merv Lincoln dies aged 82 in Melbourne", The Border Mail, 3 May 2016. Retrieved 5 May 2016
  3. Merv Lincoln, Miler Who Was Always Second Best, Dies at 82
  4. "Clash to Decide Champion Miler". The Sydney Morning Herald . 7 March 1957. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  5. "New Mile Champion Elliott Seeks Landy Record Today". The Age . 12 March 1957. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  6. 1 2 Sparks, Bob (2002). "Four-minute mile data". Archived from the original on 10 October 2009. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  7. Butler, Mark; IAAF Media & Public Relations Department (2013). "IAAF Statistics Handbook Moscow 2013". International Association of Athletics Federations.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. Mallon, Bill; Buchanan, Ian; Track & Field News. "A History Of The Results Of The National Track & Field Championships Of The USA From 1876 Through 2011". Track & Field News. Archived from the original on 19 September 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  9. 1 2 "World Rankings — Men's 1500/Mile" (PDF). Track and Field News. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  10. Welch, Bruce (24 June 1958). ""Runner-up" Role for Merv Lincoln". The Age . Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  11. "COMMONWEALTH GAMES MEDALLISTS - ATHLETICS (MEN)". Athletics Weekly . Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  12. "Record Mile at Dublin". The Montreal Gazette . 7 August 1958. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  13. 1 2 "The Amazing Herb Elliott". Sports Illustrated . 11 October 1958. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  14. In some British sources, the date was incorrectly shown as 30 April.