Armin Hary – The 1960 100 meter Olympic Champion

Armin Hary from Germany, the Rome 1960 100 meter Olympic champion, was considered the fastest starter due to his reaction time to the gun and quick acceleration out of the blocks. He earned the nickname “Thief of Starts” from the term “Thief of Hearts” and was often accused of jumping or anticipating the gun.

The movie, “Thief of Hearts”, didn’t come out until 1984.

Armin Hary also won a 2nd Gold medal in the 4x100m relay when USA was disqualified for an illegal baton pass.

In high speed photography, Armin Hary’s sequence for his quick start started from both knees, then toes, then fingertips, and finally his legs.

I assumed the fingertips would be the first to move as your brain hears the gun, then the neuron signals travel down the spinal cord, first to your arms before the legs.

Take a close look at Usain Bolt’s starting block sequence, as I consider this a “normal” start for a 200 meter guy.

The IAAF false start rule of 0.100 is just a hypothetical number based on the fact that no human can react that fast to the sound of the gun. Any faster would mean “anticipation”. Hary’s reaction time was recorded at 0.04 seconds compared to the average human of 0.132 seconds, which may seem physiologically impossible, but we all know there are genetic abnormalities out there.

Including Usain Bolt?



More on Armin Hary

During the Olympics, Armin Hary was in the middle of an Adidas-Puma controversy when he “attempted” to be paid by both sides. He wore PUMA spikes on the track in his 100 meter final, but wore Adidas shoes on the victory stand when receiving his gold medal.

Check the photos for proof! Click on the photos to enlarge.

Armin Hary was suspended by the German federation after the Olympics for padding his expense account. He would claim train and transportation fare, but get a free ride to the venue anyways and pocket the money.

The suspension wouldn’t really matter, as he was retired at that point, primarily from a car accident.

Push came to shove when he was found guilty in 1980 of a 3.2 million DM (Deutsche Mark) swindle and sentenced to 3 years in jail.

From Penthouse to Outhouse in 20 years!

Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at
I am a Masters Athlete and Coach currently based in London UK. My other projects include the Bud Winter Foundation, writer for the IAAF New Studies in Athletics Journal (NSA) and a member of the Track & Field Writers of America.
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
  • Armin Hary was the first man to run the 100m in 10 seconds, he was periodically tested for his quick reaction time, it was discovered that he had extraordinary reflexes, he often seemed sullen and aloof and once was reported to have snubbed a meeting with Jesse Owens, although he did meet with him. Hary is now 72 and is giving back to his community by organizing sporting events for youth in Germany. He used the the 200m in training to help his 100, guess it paid off.

  • armin hary was a tremendous clean exponent of sprinting ,and a real natural sprinter whose advances were well documented in germany ,its a pity he and bullet bob never got the chance to meet head to head ,hary even clean was way ahead of his time and to think a handtimed 10 flat on cinder twice in one day just fantastic! and i do think hary was gifted firstly and like every other sprinter so much hard work went in to short career, ein ausnahme athlet ,

  • by the way chambers has benefitted from doping and modern medications even if he is not doping at the moment so theres no way he can be compared with hary ,and chambers is acheating dope anyway and non representative of european sprinting who should have been banned for life but u.k athletics are just to weak minded and shelve their rightious opnions when it suits ie when chambers is winning no matter what it does to the image of the sport

  • “Bully” for Armin Hary. He was a brilliant exponent of the dynamic start in sprinting. All too many sprinters feel that they can “waddle” out of the blocks and right their ship with a high top-end speed. But, the sprinter who refines his reaction time and initial acceleration places himself to generate an even higher top-end speed. If I were a track and field coach, I would emphasize the importance of a fast start in the 100 and 200 meter dashes. After all, we are speaking of events which routinely last less than 10 and 20 seconds, respectively.

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    Man that was odd. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Sigh well I’m not writing all that again. Anyways, just wanted to say fantastic blog!…

      • greetings :) . regardless of results , dave sime was such a fine athlete . i believe he ran 200 straight in 20 flat on cinder during the late 50s . i think sime could have been a record breaker over 200m had he continued after 1960.

        • You’re correct Hugh; Dave Sime was a fine sprinter; his problem was always injuries, he over trained and many times competed injured. I do believe his best distance was 200m, he became a fine optomitrist and lives in Florida.

    • Hugh; I don’t believe he retired due to injuries, probably Med School got in the way; as far as Bobby Morrow is concerned; in my opinion, one of the most underated sprinters of all time, he beat Sime in the 100 on more than one occasion, also beat the great Ira Murchison, one of the greatest starters of all time, he won the 100-200 and 4×1 @ Melbourne. People have said that his times were not that fast in the 56 Games, but those Games were very windy and he won easily. He had a terrific work ethic and when the chips were down, he always came through.