440 Yards Hurdles Championship

Presented By Sir Montague Shearman to the Amateur Athletic Association 1914

By Dr Jane Ainsworth

Story of the Event
While hurdling has a long tradition in the British Isles, it was not until 1920 that the one-lap event for the hurdles became an established discipline with the removal of the Amateur Athletics Association rule that all hurdling should take place on grass. When the event finally appeared on the AAA programme, along with discus and triple jump, it was on probation since the Championship Committee insisted that it would only continue as long as it was included in the Olympic programme, although by this time the event had already been contested in Olympic competition since 1900, including at the 1908 London Games. 

Once Lord Burghley won the first of his five championships in 1926 there was little danger of the event losing its place. Burghley became Olympic champion in 1928 in Amsterdam, not in Paris as portrayed in the film Chariots of Fire, and would serve on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for many years.

The outstanding post-war British champion was Harry Whittle, who won this trophy seven times, along with the long jump championship for good measure. International success has come consistently in this event for British champions. David Hemery became the second British Olympic champion in Mexico City in 1968 in a world record time which stood as the British record for another 22 years, and as the world record until the 1972 Olympic final where he finished third.  

Four time AAA champion John Sherwood took bronze in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, however, the man to finally beat Hemery’s British record, although with possibly the slowest reaction time before celebrating, was Kriss Akabusi on becoming European champion in 1990. Two years later he would take bronze in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. More recently, Dai Green and Rhys Williams have continued Team GB’s success at World and European championships.

The Donor

Without Sir Montague Shearman (1857-1930), athletics in 1880 was in danger of becoming highly confusing in its organisation, with at least four different championships planned by different organisations. The challenges of this event may have seemed trifling in comparison to the task of bringing together representatives from the universities, civil service, London clubs, and regional associations but somehow a 23-year-old Sherman achieved it, and in April 1880, the Amateur Athletic Association was born. Shearman served as its Honorary Secretary of the newly formed Association from 1880-1883, and would later serve as Vice-President and finally President from 1916-1930. As an athlete he was a national champion in both 100 and 440 yards, and represented England with Wales in the first international match with Ireland in 1876.

Shearman continued to make use of his diplomatic skills and legal knowledge for the AAA until the end of his life. His final act was to start a fund for the creation of a national athletics stadium just before his death in 1930. The plan was not realised until 1971 when Crystal Palace was first used. 

History of the Trophy

AAA champions in the 400m hurdles received this trophy from 1914 to 1995; the event was run as the 440 yards until 1969. Since 2010, the trophy has been presented to the winner of the England Senior Championships 400m hurdles. 

Previous Winners*

 1930 Lord Burghley1967 J. Sherwood2010 D. Hughes
 1931 L. Facelli1968 D. Hemery2011 D. Hughes
 1932 Lord Burghley1969 J. Sherwood2012 J. Forman
 1933 L. Facelli1970 R.M. Roberts2013 D. Greene
 1934 R.K. Brown1971 J. Sherwood2014 N. Flannery
 1935 F.A.R. Hunter1972 D. Hemery2015 D. Greene
 1936 J. Sheffield1973 A. Pascoe2016 R. Yates
 1937 J. Bosmans1974 J. Bolding2017 J. Forman
 1938 J. Bosmans1975 W. Hartley2018 J. Paul
 1939 J. Bosmans1976 A. Pascoe2019 A. Chalmers
 1946 D.R. Ede1977 R. Graybehl 
 1947 H. Whittle1978 A. Pascoe 
 1948 H. Whittle1979 E. Moses 
 1949 H. Whittle1980 J. King 
 1950 H. Whittle1981 G. Oakes 
 1951 H. Whittle1982 J. King 
 1952 H. Whittle1983 D. Lee 
1914 J.C. English1953 H. Whittle1984 M. Gillingham 
1915 – No Championship1954 H. Kane1985 A. Hamada 
1918 (European War)1955 R.D. Shaw1986 M. Robertson 
1919 G.H. Gray1956 I. Savel1987 M. Robertson 
1920 E.W. Wheller1957 T.S. Farrell1988 M. Robertson 
1921 C.A. Christiernsson1958 D.F. Lean1989 M. Robertson 
1922 W.S. Kent-Hughes1959 C.E. Goudge1990 Nat Page 
1923 L.H. Phillips1960 M. Boyes1991 M. Robertson 
1924 W.C. Tatham1961 J. RintamÄki1992 Kriss Akabusi 
1925 I. Riley1962 R. Rogers1993 G. Cadogan 
1926 Lord Burghley1963 W. Atterberry1994 P. Crampton 
1927 Lord Burghley1964 J.H. Cooper1995 R. Robertson 
1928 Lord Burghley1965 W.J. Cawley  
1929 L. Facelli1966 J. Sherwood  

*N.B. Names are as recorded on the trophy and are not always as recorded elsewhere.