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Thomas Edward Burke

American athlete Thomas Edward Burke was born on January 15, 1875. He was the first Olympic champion in the 100 and 400 metres races.

Burke, a student at Boston University, was a reputed runner in the 400 metres and 440 yards, having won the Amateur Athletic Union title (440 yards) in 1895. He had no such reputation for the first event he entered in the inaugural modern Olympic Games in Athens, 1896. With many top sprinters absent, Burke surprisingly won the 100 metres. Spectators and athletes from other countries were fascinated by Burke's American crouch start, because at the time most runners from outside the U. S. used the standing start.

At the same Olympics, Burke also won the 400 metres, his top event. His times for that event were 58.4 seconds in the preliminary heats and 54.2 seconds in the final, in both of which Burke finished first.

Later in his career, Burke specialised in the longer distances, winning IC4A titles in the 440 and 880 yards events. In 1897, he was one of the initators of the annually held Boston Marathon, inspired by the success of the marathon event at the 1896 Olympics.

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



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