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Federico Bruno, the mile and history

Mid-distance athletics in our country is going through a magical moment. As an emblematic name in this generation, Federico Bruno reaches the best level of his campaign and concrete some of the many illusions he aroused in his appearance as a youthful talent.

Federico Bruno, la milla y la historia


Mid-distance  athletics  in our country is going through a magical moment. This was seen in the recent tournaments of the South American Grand Prix, in Concepción del Uruguay, and ratified this Wednesday, March 31, in Concordia , Federico Bruno . The race of the 1,500 in the GP was, by development, quality and quantity of Argentines involved, the most relevant in history , while about 5,000, the leader Marcos Julián Molina established the best brand of an Argentine athlete on national courts. It is very gratifying that this generation, mainly of young mediophonists and phonists, can realize their progress in the midst of the drama that our country is going through, and the whole world. It's like a light, a symbol of hope, albeit distant... Also, already specifically technical, it is even more valuable that these athletes can demonstrate their skills and their progress after a spoiled season, where they did not have the opportunity to compete for the suspension must of athletic activity almost all over the world. That same pause renewed their desire for improvement.

As an emblematic name in this generation, Federico Bruno reaches the best level of his campaign and concrete some of the many illusions he aroused in his appearance as a youthful talent. In Concepción he took his record brand from 1,500 to 3m.38s.23, while in Concordia he has just become the first Argentine to run a mile below 4 minutes.  A review of the history of the test, both international and national, will place us in the dimension of its feat.


 Simply, classics 

The mile test (1,609.36 meters) has a great tradition in the countries of the British Community and in the United States, cradles of modern athletic competitions. But the universalization of  athletics , mainly due to the computer effect of the Olympic Games, made the 1,500 flat meters the usual distance of midfielders. Still, the mile did not lose its charm and often the big 1,500 runners are defined as “milleros” by autonomasia.

The period from 1960 to the beginning of our century is what he offered to the greatest specialists in history, since the world records achieved by Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj in the late 90s (3m.26s.00 in 1500 and 3m.43s.13 in the mile) remain untouchable until our days.

From the previous period we can highlight New Zealander Jack Lovelock, Olympic champion in Berlin 1936, and Swedish Gunder Hägg and Ander Andersson. Lovelock was the predecessor of formidable midfielders who emerged in his own country, in a tradition that continues to this day with Nick Willis and his two Olympic medals (2008-2016). Hägg and Andersson were the only ones to perform in the midst of the tragedy of World War II. Between them, they beat six times the world record for the mile until Hägg set it at 4m.01s.4 in 1945. From there, it was considered “the 4 minutes” as the barrier to beat, a myth for athletics.

Federico Bruno, the mile and history

And the one who succeeded, after a rigorous preparation, was the British Roger Bannister on May 6, 1954 at Oxford University, in 3m.59s.4 which remain one of the summit moments in the history of sport. Bannister retired shortly after the sport and became a medical eminence. His record was scarce as after a few weeks, on June 21, Australian John Landy took him to 3m.58s.0 in Turku, Finland.

Then it would be the turn of two exceptional midfielders who emerged from the antipodes: Australian Herb Elliott and New Zealander Peter Snell.  Elliott was also 1960 Olympic champion in Rome and left athletics at just 22, after having participated in just 45 races: he won them all.  In those same Games, Snell was champion of 800 and four years later, in Tokyo, he made an unprecedented double (800/1500). Snell — like Bannister- was a medical eminence and, interestingly, both died a few months ago.

In the mid-1960s, from the American university campuses, a name came up that was destined for stardom - Jim Ryun . On July 17, 1966 in Berkeley, California, and at just 19 years old he broke the world record for the mile by running at 3m.51s.3. And he reduced that mark by two tenths the following year in Bakersfield. Ryun had all the tickets for Olympic gold in Mexico but there he ran into an almost impassable problem (or two): the altitude and quality of Kipchoge Keino , the “father” of the Kenyan revolution in the middle and bottom races. Keino won the gold medal, one of the many he won between 1964 and 1972 in tests ranging from 1,500 to 10,000, including obstacles.

Tanzanian Filbert Bayi took the record to 3m.51s.0 on May 17, 1975 in Kingston. And a few months later, another phenomenon of the New Zealand legion, John Walker , was the first to lower the 3m50s when registering 3m.49s4 in Gothenburg, anticipating his Olympic victory in Montreal 76.

The late 1980s and early 1980s were marked by the golden generation of British midfielders: Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram . Among the three, they moved seven times the world record for the mile. Coe — the current president of the world organization (World Athletics) — had a sensational summer in '79 and in a few weeks took over the records of 800, 1,500 and a mile. It was the time of the great rivalry with Ovett (a kind of Nadal-Federer of athletics) that was resolved at the Moscow Olympics. Ovett triumphed in the 800's and Coe took off in an epic 1,500, a crown he was going to revalidate four years later in Moscow, leaving an unparalleled seal to this day: no other midfielder could retain his Olympic crown from that distance, neither before nor later of the great Coe.  It was a time of take-off of professionalism, of great promotion around the midfield races, especially with the Golden Mile that brought together the cream of the cream on the Oslo track, where so many world brands fell. Cram — the youngest British gifted and Coe's escort at the Los Angeles 84 Games — brought the record to 3m.46s.32 on July 27, 1985, just in the Norwegian capital, where Spaniard José Luis González (3m47s79) was escorted while Coe (3m49s22) saw him fall his mark of 81 (3m46s32) and a John Walker still in force reached sixth place.

Without an inheritance of that caliber for that British generation, the gifted from North Africa came out. Said Aouita did not do it on the mile, but Algerian Nourredine Morceli and Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj did. Morceli, three-time world champion of 1,500 and winner of the race at the Atlanta 96 Olympics, dropped the Cram record to 3m44s39. And El Guerrouj, his successor, set him at 3m43s13 during the Golden Gala in Rome on 7 July 1999, in a race where Kenyan Noah Ngeny escorted him. However, this one was pleased to beat it in the Sydney Olympic final in the following season. Four years later, in Athens, El Guerrouj reached the summit of his campaign by winning 1,500 and 5,000, here in a memorable duel with Kenenisa Bekela.  As we mentioned, it keeps until today the world ceilings of 1,500 and the mile, as well as another unusual distance such as 2,000 meters flat . A statistical study of specialists such as Hydman-Hedman-Matthews classified Hicham El Guerrouj as “the largest 1,500 specialist and mile/ of all time,” recalling that he won four consecutive world championships out of 1,500, between 1997 and 2003. However, Coe's golden double at the Olympic Games, as well as the quality of its records, allow us to consider it at that same height, if not higher. When the current president of W.A. was in full, the World Championships were just inaugurated and in a format every four years.


 Evolution of the world record (under 4m) 

3m.59s.4 Roger Bannister (GBR) on 6.5.54 in Oxford

3m.58s.0 John Landy (Australia) on 21.6.54 in Turku

3m.57s.2 Derek Ibbotson (GBR) on 19.7.57 in London

3m.54s.5 Herb Elliott (AUS) on 6.8.58 in Dublin

3m.54s.4 Peter Snell (NZL) on 27.1.62 in Wanganui

3m.54s.1 Peter Snell (NZL) on 17.11.64 in Auckland

3m.53s.6 Michel Jazy (FRA) on 9.6.65 in Rennes

3m.51s.3 Jim Ryun (USA) at 17.7.66 in Berkeley

3m.51s.1 Jim Ryun (USA) on 23.6.67 in Bakersfield

3m.51s.0 Filbert Bayi (TAN) 17.5.75 in Kingston

3m.49s.4 John Walker (NZL) on 12.8.75 in Göteborg

3m.49s.0 Sebastian Coe (GBR) on 17.7.79 in Oslo

3m.48s.8 Steve Ovett (GBR) on 1.7.80 in Oslo

3m.48s.53 Sebastián Coe (GBR) at 19.8.91 in Zurich

3m.48s.40 Steve Ovett (GBR) on 26.8.81 in Koblenz

3m.47s.33 Sebastian Coe (GBR) on 28.8.81 in Brussels

3m.46s.32 Steve Cram (GBR) on 28.8.91 in Brussels

3m.46s.32 Steve Cram (GBR) on 27.7.85 in Oslo

3m.44s.39 Noureddine Morceli (ALG) on 5.9.83 in Rieti

3m.43s.13 Hicham El Guerrouj (MAR) on 7.7.99 in Rome

Federico Bruno, the mile and history


 South American touches 

During the first decades of federated athletics in our region, the midfield tests were marked by the duels between Argentines and Chileans. The mile tests were scheduled from time to time and the first scored on the record charts are Argentines such as Serafín Dengra and Leopoldo Ledesma, both Olympics in Amsterdam (1928). Ledesma was part of the litter of great athletes who emerged from Córdoba, while Dengra —from Granada, Spain—was a semi-finalist of 800 meters in the Games. Equally (or more) famous was his grandson, the popular Serafo, member of the Argentine rugby team -Los Pumas- a couple of decades ago.

In 1938 the Argentine and South American record for the mile was left for a great phonist such as Roger Ceballos, also a native of Córdoba and who had reached his moment of glory at the International Week in Rio de Janeiro (March 1934) when he beat about 3,000 meters to the championship n Olympic obstacle, the Finnish Volmari Iso-Hollo. Ceballos broke there the sa record of 3,000 with 8m.36s.6, a distance that, along with the 5,000, were his favorites. He became a 3,000 national champion seven times.

Ceballos had marked 4m.20s.3 on the mile, a record that his compatriot Isidoro Ferrere went down in a tenth three years later. Known as “El Lobo” in the athletic environment, Isidoro arrived from Entre Ríos and developed his sports career in the Argentine capital, being the best midfielder in the early 40s. He was also a recordman of the 1,500 (3m.57s2) and in that season of 41 he starred in the remembered duels with Chilean Guillermo García Huidobro on the GEBA track, for the South American Championship. With 1m.54s.2 over 800 and 3m.58s.7 over 1,500, García Huidobro won the gold medals, in front of the “Lobo”, who followed for several more seasons in the National Team. Teaching in Physical Education, he developed an intense work: he was a professor at INEF and numerous institutions, provincial director of Sports in Buenos Aires and athletic coach of schools such as River and San Lorenzo.

García Huidobro, one of the greatest midfielders in Chilean history, inherited the South American record for the mile (4m.15s.8 in the same season of 41). Estadio magazine, in his country, defined it as follows: “In action it is a real show. Your muscles educated in effort, work with that perfect harmony that only gives intense training. His lungs in tight aspirations, swell with fresh air and his c reason beats joyous, looking at the ground passing fast, under his powerful strides.”  He was the son of the president of the Athletic Federation of Chile and once removed from the slopes he was a brilliant architect.

Another Chilean midfonds colossus like Ramón Sandoval inherited the mile record. Sandoval, who was seconded in his athletic adventures by his own brother Waldo, was already a consecrated one in our region when he decided to venture into the US university environment, representing Lamar in Beaumont, Texas. Perhaps because of the differences in the preparation systems or because of the trail of the NCAA circuit he did not progress in classical distances, but he reached to lower the mile record in his interventions (4m11s0 and 4m09s7 in early 1958).

In the South American record we have to score Rayfield Beaton, from Guyana, with 4m.06s.0 in 1975, also in the United States, but without official record since his country —recently independent — joined our confederation a long time later (today “South American Athletics & Athletics & rdquo;). Also in the USA university environment, Argentina's Omar Ortega ran on 4m.02s.45 as part of his Olympic preparation for Los Angeles. A record that, at the South American level, would have little flight since that Brazilian phenomenon called Joaquim Carvalho Cruz — also competing in that environment and representing Oregon — was ready to try greater distances: on May 13 it razed the” barrier” of the 4 minutes when dialing 3m.53s.00.  It was in Los Angeles, the city where a few months later, he was going to star in one of the most spectacular moments in the history of South American athletics: his Olympic victory in the 800 meters flat, surpassing Sebastian Coe and others gifted.

Cruz scored his mislla record on the Westwood track, during the Pepsi Invitational and in a closed duel with the best American midfielder, Steve Scott, who beat him by a hundredth (3m52s99), leaving third Jim Spivey with 3m53s88. Cruz's brand remained for a long time as the best debut in history on the mile .

Joaquim, together with his compatriots José Luiz Barbosa (“Zequinha”) and Agberto Conceicao Guimaraes, who had trained at Brigham Young University in Utah, had the technical leadership of Luiz Alberto de Oliveira and were protagonists of an unrepeatable time, a harvest of brands and you titles that placed Brazil in the first world level of the midfund . Even today, the series of Cruz and his companions is inaccessible, especially in the 800 meters flat.

The heir of that team was Hudson Santos de Souza , whose series of brands at the beginning of this century proved important, although globally it did not reach the same dimension of results. Hudson, like Joaquim, came from the Federal District and stood out from youth.  In 2005 he achieved the South American record of 1,500 with 3m.33s25 in Rieti and also the one for the mile, with 3m51s05 at Bislett Stadium in Oslo, in a test in which he finished 8° and where eight of the 9 best world brands of the season were established. Those records, until today, remain unbeatable in our region and only recently was another Brazilian, Thiago do Rosario André, now under the technical leadership of Polish Lewandowski. Hudson closed his athletic campaign with a valuable balance, achieving 7 of the top ten brands so far in the South American record of 1,500 (all below 3m.35s.) and running the mile 13 times in less than 4 minutes.


 Evolution of the South American record 

4m.28s.2 Serafín Dengra (ARG) on 10.11.29 in Buenos Aires

4m.24s.2 Leopoldo Ledesma (ARG) on 18.2.34 in Buenos Aires

4m.22s.6 Juan Carballeira (ARG) on 24.2.34 in Buenos Aires

4m.20s.3 Roger Ceballos (ARG) 1938 at Buenos Aires

4m.20s.2 Isidoro Ferrere (ARG) 1941 in Buenos Aires

4m.15s.8 Guillermo Garcia Huidobro (CHI) 1941

4m.11s.0 Ramón Sandoval (CHI) on 29.3.58 in Austin

4m.09s.7 Ramón Sandoval (CHI) on 2.4.58 in Houston

(4m.06s.0 Rayfield Beaton GUY 3.5.75 in Westwood)

4m.02s.45 Omar Ortega (ARG) on 21.4.84 in Boise

3m.53s.00 Joaquim Cruz (BRA) on 13.5.84 in Los Angeles

3m.52s.97 Hudson Santos de Souza (BRA) on 12.7.02 in Rome

3m.51s.05 Hudson Santos de Souza (BRA) on 29.7.05 in Oslo


 The top 10 South American 

3m.51s.05 Hudson Santos de Souza (BRA) on 29.7.05 in Oslo

3m.51s.99 Thiago do Rosario André (BRA) on 27.5.17 in Eugene

3m.53s.00 Joaquim Carvalho Cruz (BRA) on 13.5.84 in Los Angeles

3m.53s.21 David Torrence (PER) on 1.6.17 in Concord

3m.53s.30 Edgar Martins de Oliveira (BRA) on 26.5.96 in Eugene

3m.58s.2 Wander do Prado Moura (BRA) on 15.4.95 at Walnut

3m.59s.27 Federico Bruno (ARG) on 31.3.21 in Concordia

4m.00s.90 Daniel Bernardo das Neves (BRA) on 5.6.93 in Eugene

4m.02s.45 Omar Ortega (ARG) on 21.4.84 in Boyse

4m.02s.70 Luiz José Goncalves (BRA) on 26.3.90 in Manaus

Federico Bruno, the mile and history


 The Argentine contribution 

In “Origins of Argentine Athletics”, by Rubén Aguilera, it is indicated that the mile tests were included in the first athletic competitions on national soil. For example in 1892 in Palermo, in the BA Cricket Club tournament (there he won H. Corrival with 5m17s35/5) and that same year in Rosario (C. Davis with 5m12s).

According to the documentation that Augusto Dominis (To Your Marches) bequeathed to us, the first record of the official Mile in our country was 4m.42s.0, achieved in 1920 by Miguel Angel Entrecasa in Rosario. That year, Argentina made its appearance at the South American Championships, on the track of Ñuñoa (Santiago de Chile) and there Entrecasa was the winner over 1,500 plains with 4m.23s.2, mark that was approved as a record for the distance.

Five years later, the national top of the mile passed to Oscar Alonso with 4m.38s.0, another athlete who had his preferences in greater distances as he escorted nothing less than José Ribas and Olympic champion Juan Carlos Zabala over 3,000 meters in the Nacionales of 28 and 29 respectively. He finally reached an Argentine track title in 1932 in the 1500 with 4m.12s.8. Although Alonso, who represented Ferro Carril Oeste, also triumphed in the first national cross country championship in 1925.

The mile reappeared among us in the aforementioned period at the South American level, ranging from Dengra to Ferrere. And on May 7, 1944, in the midst of the wave of record” that the great entrerriano Juan Raúl Ibarra took over almost all distances from the middle and bottom — including the world mark of one hour — also had his incursion in the mile with 4m19s5, which Oscar Gahuarou improved in two tenths at the beginning of the following season. Exactly a year later, Ricardo Bralo set 4m.18s0 on the mile, confirming a splendid moment as he came to win the 5,000 gold medal and the 10,000 silver medal at the inaugural Pan American Games, at the River Stadium.

 Osvaldo Suárez was one of the most notable phonists in the national and South American history . His record collection covered all track and route distances, from 1,500 meters to the marathon, and its equally exceptional international titles. And esaserie started just with the mile, as Osvaldo, a few days before turning 19, ran the distance at 4m.16s.3 on March 8, 1953. It was his springboard towards an excellent season that included his win over 5,000 in the South American Extra de Santiago the following month (he beat heroes of the fund like Ibarra and Chilean Inostroza), also a record about 2,000 flat meters and the 5,000-10,000 double in the match against the national team of Italy on the GEBA track. There he beat the well-known, hot (and short) visiting fundist, Giáccomo Peppicelli, and the 31m.38s.8 mark represented a junior world record, although at that time those tables were still not spread.

The great Argentine midfielder of the 1950s, Eduardo Balducci , improved Suarez's top on the mile by marking 4m.15s.6 in Villa Domínico during the fall of 1960, when he sought his classification to the Olympic Games in Rome, something he was finally denied.

The list continued much later with two midfielders who emerged with their youth bríos on our tracks and ended their campaigns in the United States.  Pedro Angel Cáceres , from Azul, specialized in the 800 plains: he was the first Argentine to go down from 1m.50s. and took the top to 1m.48s.5 with a great performance in the South American of Bucaramanga (1979) where he arrived third. Already based in the USA, he competed for Lamar Univesity—the same as the Chilean Ramón Sandoval- and there he turned towards the 1,500 and the obstacle test, where he was nominated for the Olympic Games in Los Angeles.  Omar Ortega , meanwhile, trained in Parque Avellaneda under the guidance of Professor Aguilar and was a classic runner of 1,500. Inspired by the exploits of Kenyan Henri Rono (four background world records in just 40 days during the 78 season), he wrote to the technicians of the university where he trained, Washington State, in Spokane. They accepted it and the “skinny” Omar evolved over 1,500, placing the national record on the 3m40s border, something that Javier Carriqueo, Neuquino, could only overcome more than two decades later. Eocrd of the mile when he adjusted his preparation for the Los Angeles Olympic Games. On retirement from athletics and with a diploma in Economics, he developed a praised business career, mainly in the US and Spain.

 Federico Bruno , native of Concordia, is the heir of those traditions, the best Argentine midfielder of the last decade and the one who replaces our country on the South American map of the specialty. After some time of uncertainty and some injuries that complicated him, he is now shown in fullness. From Concepción to Concordia, a sweet moment.

Bruno had the great opportunity to debut at one of the world's top events for the midfield runners: the Prefontaine Classic mile, at Howard Field Stadium in Eugene, Oregon (which is now remodeled to host the next World Championship). The “Pre” is a Diamond League tournament that honors the legendary American runner of the '70s, Steve Prefontaine, who died so young in a traffic accident. The Mile of the “Pre” in 2015 brought together the best specialists of that moment, with triumph in the central series of Ayanlew Souleiman (Djibouti) with 3m51s10 and second place for the US Matthew Centrowitz -then Olympic champion in Rio - with 3m51s20, leaving third the three-time world champion and former champion Oacute; n Olympic Asbel Kiprop, Kenyan, with 3m51s25. Bruno took 11th place in the other series and set the national record at the gates of 4 minutes, triumphing there Ben Bankinship with 3m55s72. It was yesterday, it seems far... but Bruno has already left that mark behind when he became the first Argentine midfielder to break the great barrier of the milleros.


 Evolution of the Argentine record 

4m.42s.0 Miguel Angel Entrecasa in 1920 in Rosario

4m.38s.0 Oscar Alonso in 1925 in Buenos Aires

4m.28s.2 Serafín Dengra on 10.11.29 in Buenos Aires

4m.24s.2 Leopoldo Ledesma on 18.2.34 in Buenos Aires

4m.22s.6 Juan Carballeira on 24.2.34 in Buenos Aires

4m.20s.3 Roger Ceballos 1938 in Buenos Aires

4m.20s.2 Isidoro Ferrere 1941 in Buenos Aires

4m.19s.5 Juan Raúl Ibarra on 7.5.44 in Buenos Aires

4m.19s.3 Oscar Ricardo Gahuarou on 8.4.50 in Buenos Aires

4m.18s.0 Ricardo Bralo on 7.4.51 in Buenos Aires

4m.16s.3 Osvaldo Suárez on 8.3.53 in Buenos Aires

4m.15s.6 Eduardo Balducci on 14.5.60 in Villa Domínico

4m.14s.0 Pedro Angel Cáceres on 11.4.80 in New York USA

4m.02s.45 Omar Esteban Ortega on 21.4.84 in Boise USA

4m.00s.31 Federico Bruno on 30.5.15 in Eugene USA

3m.59s.27 Federico Bruno on 31.3.21 in Concordia



“The Milers” (Roberto Quercetani — Cordner Nelson)

“First 4m” (Roger Bannister)

“Running Free” (Sebastian Coe)

“World's Greatest” (Richard Hymans, Jonas Hedman, Peter Matthews)

Archives: Argentina Confederation of Athletics — FAM — magazine A sus Marcas

Statistical books EACH (Rubén Aguilera/E. Fontana/S. Fontana/L. Vinker/J. Dominis)

“Appointment in Moscow” (bios Bönnhoff-Balducci), by Luis Vinker (Digital Library Atl. South American)

“Ramón Sandoval, Chilean legend” (at:

Publication Date: 09/04/2021

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