Abel Kiviat

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Abel Kiviat
Abel Kiviat 1912.jpg
Kiviat in 1912
Personal information
BornJune 23, 1892
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
DiedAugust 24, 1991 (aged 99)
Lakehurst, New Jersey, U.S.
Height5 ft 5 in (165 cm)
Weight110 lb (50 kg)
Event(s)800 m, 1500 m, 5000 m
ClubI-AAC, Queens
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)800 m – 1:54.1 (1910)
1500 m – 3:55.8 (1912)
5000 m – 15:06.4 (1912)[1]

Abel Richard Kiviat (June 23, 1892 – August 24, 1991) was an American middle-distance runner. He was the oldest living American Olympic medalist at the time of his death,[2] he competed for and coached the Irish American Athletic Club, and was later a member of the New York Athletic Club.[3]


Kiviat was born to Zelda and Morris (sometimes written as Milton or Moshe) Kiviat, he was raised on Staten Island and attended Curtis High School. He joined the Irish American Athletic Club in New York City and started training in 1908.[2]

In 1908 at Travers Island, he won the Junior Championship for one mile for the Metropolitan District, making the fast time of 4:24. In the same year he won the Baxter Cup in the Columbia University races at Madison Square Garden, making the fast time of 4:23 2–5, he broke the world's record in the 2,400 yard relay race, his time for his 600 yards being 1:16, and 5:4 for the entire distance. He also won the Canadian mile championship in 1909 and again in 1910."[4]

He set a 1500 meter world record of 3:55.8 minutes in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in June 1912. In 1912, he set the world record for 1500 meters three times in 15 days; during the third effort, Harvard stadium was sold out with 15,000 in attendance – referenced in "The Milers" by Cordner Nelson,[5] he competed for the U.S. Olympic Team, as a member of the Irish American Athletic Club, and won a silver medal in the 1500 m at the Olympic Games in Stockholm 1912 (the gold was won by Arnold Jackson). For the first time, the Olympics used a photo finish to determine who won the medal.[6][7] In Stockholm he also raced on the gold-medal US team in the 3000 m relay, and competed for the US team in the exhibition baseball tournament. During the trip to Sweden in 1912 he was cabin mates with Jim Thorpe, a much renowned Native American athlete.[8]

In 1984, Kiviat, who was Jewish,[9] was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame,[10] and in 1985, he was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame.

He died of prostate cancer on August 24, 1991, in Lakehurst, New Jersey.[2]


The Abel R. Kiviat Memorial race is held annually at his alma mater, Curtis High School, in Staten Island, New York.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Abel Kiviat. trackfield.brinkster.net
  2. ^ a b c Frank Litsky (August 26, 1991). "Abel Kiviat, Runner, Dies at 99; Held World 1,500-Meter Record". The New York Times. Retrieved January 2, 2015. Abel Kiviat, a former world-record holder in the 1,500-meter run who won a silver medal in the 1912 Olympics, died Saturday afternoon at his home in Lakehurst, N.J, he was 99 years old.
  3. ^ Abel Kiviat. Sports-reference
  4. ^ "1910 Mecca Cigarettes Champion Athlete Series trading card". Wingedfist.com. August 24, 1991. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  5. ^ Nelson, Cordner (1985) The Milers. Tafnews Pr. ISBN 0911521151
  6. ^ Baum, Jonathan (June 24, 2012) Allyson Felix-Jeneba Tarmoh tie in 100 meters to be broken by run-off or coin flip. sports.yahoo.com
  7. ^ Borden, Sam (June 24, 2012) A Photo Finish Too Close to Call, Even by Camera. New York Times
  8. ^ Katchen, Alan (2009). Abel Kiviat, National Champion: Twentieth-Century Track & Field and the Melting Pot. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-0939-1.
  9. ^ Katchen, Alan S. (2009). Abel Kiviat, National Champion: Twentieth-century Track & Field and the Melting Pot. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-0939-1.
  10. ^ Siegman, Joseph M. (1992). The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. SP Books. pp. 172–. ISBN 978-1-56171-028-7.


  • Greenberg, Stan (1987). Olympic Games: The Records. London: Guinness Books. ISBN 0-85112-896-3.
  • Katchen, Alan (2009). Abel Kiviat, National Champion: Twentieth-Century Track & Field and the Melting Pot. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-0939-1.
  • Kieran, John (1977). The Story of the Olympic Games; 776 B.C. to 1976. Philadelphia and New York: J.B. Lippincott Company. ISBN 0-397-01168-7.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Men's 1500 m World Record Holder
June 1, 1912 – August 5, 1917
Succeeded by
Sweden John Zander