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Wyndham Halswelle won the 1908 Olympic Gold medal for men's 400 metres in a walkover. American John Carpenter was disqualified, and teammates John Baxter Taylor and William Robbins refused to race in protest.

A walkover, also W.O. or w/o (originally two words: "walk over") is the awarding of a victory to a contestant because there are no other contestants or the other contestants have been disqualified[1] or have forfeited.[2] The term can apply in sport but also to uncontested elections, when it is also referred to as winning "by default". The word is used more generally by extension, particularly in politics, for an election in which the winner is not the only participant but has little or no competition.[2] The narrow and extended meanings of "walkover" as a single word are both found from 1829.[2]


The word originates from horseracing in the United Kingdom, where an entrant in a one-horse race run under Jockey Club rules has at least to "walk over" the course before being awarded victory.[3] This outcome was quite common at a time when there was no guaranteed prize money for horses finishing second or third, so there was no incentive to run a horse in a race it could not win. The eighteenth century champion racehorse Eclipse was so dominant over his contemporaries that he was allowed to walk over on nine occasions,[4] and the 1828 Epsom Derby winner Cadland walked over on at least six occasions.

The term is also used in tennis, in reference to a player's unopposed victory as a result of the opponent's failing to start the match for any reason, such as injury.

The only Olympic Games walkover for a gold medal was at the 1908 Summer Olympics: Wyndham Halswelle won a rerun of the 400 m race as the two other athletes refused to take part in the rerun. The only time it has happened at the FIFA World Cup was in the 1938 edition, when Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany before the former was scheduled to play Sweden. Latvia was the runner-up in Austria's qualification group, but was not invited to participate; instead Austria's place remained empty, and Sweden, which would have been Austria's initial opponent, progressed directly to the second-round.

In 2019, the Colombian women's basketball team was awarded a 20-0 walkover victory at the Pan Am games due to the Argentinean team's failure to wear the correct uniforms; the Argentinean team walked onto the court wearing blue, which had been designated as the Colombian team's jersey color. [5]

Use in poker

In poker games that use blinds, a hand is considered a walkover (usually shortened to walk) when no other players call or raise the big blind, resulting in the player who posted the big blind winning the hand by default. Walks are most often seen in tournament play. Cash games often allow the players to "split the blinds" (i.e. take back their blind bets in case there are no callers or raisers by the time the action gets to the small blind), but this is usually not permitted in tournaments.

See also


  1. ^ "PAP team points out error in RP form, averting possible walkover in West Coast GRC". The Straits Times. 1 September 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.: walkover
  3. ^ Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). walk 16e, walk over.
  4. ^ "Eclipse".
  5. ^ "Argentina forfeits Pan Am game for wrong jersey".
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