Amateur Athletic Association Throwing the Hammer (16lb) Challenge Cup

Presented by John Weir 1924

By Dr Jane Ainsworth

Story of the Event

Hammer throwing, unlike the ancient Greek throwing disciplines of discus and javelin, has its roots in northern Europe. Irish legends speak of the hero Cú Chulainn outdistancing his rivals when throwing a chariot wheel on its axle at the Tailteann Games, an event even more ancient than the Olympics, and Scandinavian stories describe the exploits of the god Thor in throwing his hammer. Historical sources show that the wheel was later substituted for a boulder attached to a wooden handle in popular games. The event is still contested in the Highland Games, although nowadays the throwing implement has a fixed handle.

Hammer throwing in today’s competition owes its form to one of the most influential figures of modern athletics, J.G. Chambers, donor of the men’s walk trophy. Chambers was responsible for setting the rules for a wide range of events in the forms we still use in championship athletics. He introduced the hammer circle in 1878, although this was not internationally accepted until the 1908 Olympic Games in London. Before this, throwers were allowed a run-up and follow-through. His rivals in athletics organisation in the 1870s, the Waddell brothers, donors of the men’s steeplechase trophy, introduced the short-lived idea of a hammer square.

The winners of Amateur Athletic Association championships include some of the world’s outstanding hammer throwers, although, as with the men’s shot put, the hammer event did not get a trophy until 1924. Due to this, one of the names which does not appear is Irish-American athlete John Flanagan. Flanagan won the AAA championship in 1896 and 1900 and took Olympic gold for America at the 1900, 1904 and 1908 Games. Flanagan was 40 when he won his third Olympic title and went on to coach Pat O’Callaghan, himself a two-time Olympic gold medallist for Ireland at the 1928 and 1932 Games and winner of the AAA event in 1934. Other notable names include Karl Hein, Imre Nemeth, József Csermák, and Gyula Zsivótzky. Triple AAA champion Malcolm Noakes won Olympic bronze in 1924, Britain’s only medal in the men’s event, and was the first Empire, later Commonwealth, champion in 1930.

1972 AAA champion and Olympic finalist, Barry Williams, recalls that overseas champions in the Cold War period would often travel across Britain before and after the competition to share their expertise at coaching sessions. The trophy also features the only example so far of father-and-son AAA champions in the same event, David and Alex Smith. British record-holder, Nick Miller, won this trophy in 2014, four years later becoming Commonwealth champion.

Athletics trophy, silver with ornate floral carving. Engraved with the words Amateur Athletic Association Throwing the Hammer Challenge Cup presented by John Weir 1924
Photo credit: Rebecca Brennan
Detail of the trophy’s lid. Photo credit: Rebecca Brennan

History of the Trophy

AAA champions in the hammer throw received this trophy since 1924, although the event was contested since the first AAA championship in 1880. 

Since 2010 the trophy has been presented to the winner of the English Senior Championships Hammer Throw.

Previous Winners*

1924 M.C. Nokes1950 D.McD. M. Clark1970 H. Payne
1925 M.C. Nokes1951 T. Taddia1971 (H. Payne)*
1926 M.C. Nokes1952 D.McD. M. Clark1972 B. Williams
1927 O. Skoeld1953 D.W.J. Anthony1973 H. Payne
1928 W. Britton1954 J. Csermak1974 A. Bernard (SA)
1929 W.T. Britton1955 E.C.K. Douglas1975 A. Bernard
1930 O. Skold1956 P.C. Allday1976 C. Black
1931 O. Sköld1957 M.J. Ellis1977 C. Black
1932 G. Walsh1958 M.J. Ellis1978 P. Farmer
1933 W. Britton1959 M.J. Ellis1979 P. Farmer
1934 Dr P. O’Callaghan1960 M.J. Ellis1980 M. Girvan
1935 F. Warngard1961 J.F. Lawler1981 M. Girvan
1936 N.H. Drake1962 N. Okamoto1982 R. Weir
1937 K. Hein1963 T. Sugawara1983 C. Black
1938 B. Healion1964 A.H. Payne1984 D. Smith
1939 B. Healion1965 G. Zsivotzky1985 D. Smith
1946 J.H. Houtzager1966 G. Zsivotzky1986 D. Smith
1947 I. Nemeth1967 E. Burke1987 D. Smith
1948 N.H. Drake1968 L. Lovasz1988 D. Smith
1949 I. Nemeth1969 H. Payne1989 Jud Logan
  1990 Paul Head
  1991 Sean Carlin
  1992 Sean Carlin
  1993 Paul Head
  1994 P. Vivian
2010 M. Floyd2013 A. Frost2016 T. Campbell
2011 A. Smith2014 N. Miller2017 C. Brown
2012 J. Bedford2015 C. Shorthouse2018 C. Murch
  2019 C. Murch

*N.B. Names are as recorded on the trophy and are not always as recorded elsewhere, with some years not recorded and appearing here in brackets, and inconsistencies in spelling, e.g. Zsivotz/sky.