The IAAF is deeply saddened to hear that 1956 Olympic javelin champion Egil Danielsen of Norway died on Monday (29) at the age of 85.
Born in Hamar in late 1933, Danielsen was a keen cross-country skier before he discovered his javelin throwing talent. He was still a teenager in 1953 when he won the first of his five consecutive national titles in the javelin.
At around the same time, the long-standing world record in the event had been broken by USA’s Bud Held who, along with his brother Dick, had created a more aerodynamic javelin.
Earlier in 1956, ahead of the Olympic Games in Melbourne, the world record had been broken by Finland’s Soini Nikkinen and, six days later, by Poland’s Janusz Sidlo, who threw 83.66m.
In the Olympic final in Melbourne, Viktor Tsybulenko of the Soviet Union took an early lead with an Olympic record of 74.96m, extending it to 75.84m in round two. Sidlo then moved into the lead with 79.98m. Danielsen, meanwhile, was down in sixth with 72.60m.
In an effort to help his friend, Sidlo lent Danielsen his modern steel javelin while France’s Michel Macquet gave him a cup of coffee. Danielsen then launched the javelin out to 85.71m, adding more than two metres to the world record and claiming the gold medal with a winning margin of nearly six metres. In doing so, he became the first man to break a javelin world record at the Olympic Games.
Although he never improved on that mark, Danielsen came close to it in 1957 with 84.00m. One year later, he claimed the silver medal at the European Championships. He retired after the 1960 season and worked in the Hamar Fire Brigade.