Malcolm Horsman Trophy

The Malcolm Horsman Trophy for Women’s Amateur Athletic Association 400m Hurdles

By Dr Jane Ainsworth

The Story of the Event

Although 400m hurdles had been included in the men’s programme since 1914, the demands it placed on athletes meant that it was considered too challenging for the Women’s Amateur Athletics Association (WAAA). Thus, the organisation did not include the event until 1973.  The first world record in the event would not be ratified by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) until the following year. 

Photo credit: David Rowan

Along with the 3000m, the event produced the first ever world champions, with a special championship being held in Sittard, Netherlands, in 1980. This was three years before what is generally known as the inaugural World Championships in Helsinki. 

The event first appeared in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, with two WAAA champions, Sue Morley and Gladys Taylor, running in the semi-finals.  Another notable athlete, Yvette Wray won two Commonwealth Games bronze medals in the 1978 pentathlon and the 1982 400m hurdles appears three times on this trophy, as does Christine Warden, who competed for Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the Sittard race.

The outstanding name on the trophy is that of Sally Gunnell, who is one of a small group of élite British athletes to have won Olympic, World, Commonwealth, and European titles. Not to mention, her time still stands as the British record. Gunnell’s contemporary, Gowry Retchakan has the most championship victories to her name, with five victories in the early 1990s. She won a silver medal in the 1998 Commonwealth Games and finished second in the original version of the World Cup, held in Havana in 1992. The strength required for the event makes champions popular for relay legs, recently demonstrated to good effect by the 2017 champion, Kirsten McAslan, a silver medallist in the European Indoor Championships.

The Donor
Malcolm Horsman was a successful businessman, notably chairman of Raleigh Brothers and Bowaters.  The latter company provides his link to athletics, since Bowaters were the employers of Marea Hartman.  Horsman attempted to run as the youngest Conservative to stand in local elections in the 1950s, aiming to represent the Handsworth area of Birmingham, where he had grown up.  He also donated a trophy to Birchfield Harriers in 1977.

Dame Marea Hartman played a fundamental role in the development of women’s athletics both at home and internationally in her various roles. This included stints as Honorary Treasurer, Secretary and Vice-Chair of the WAAA and the British Amateur Athletic Board (BAAB), and Chair of the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) Women’s Commission.  In addition, she served as women’s team manager at Olympic, European and Commonwealth Games for over 25 years.  In his obituary of her in The Independent, her contemporary in athletics administration, Sir Arthur Gold, summed up her achievements:

“in the post-war era women have been fully integrated into the sport, participating in nearly 20 different track and field disciplines, in internationals jointly with the men’s team, in cup competitions and, latterly, at grand prix events. This transformation was due in large part to the work of Marea Hartman”.

Horsman’s donation of the trophy for 400m hurdles, one of the final track events to be added to a women’s championship programme to match that of the men, is a fitting marker to his employee’s achievements as an international administrator in athletics.  At her first Olympics as team manager in 1956, Hartman had to manage competitors in only 9 events, with no track events being run over the distance of 200m.

History of the Trophy
WAAA champions in the 400m hurdles received this trophy from 1973 until 1995.  Since 2010 the trophy has been presented to the winner of the England Senior Championships 400m hurdles.

Previous Winners*

1973. Susan Howell1980 Sue. Morley1986. Yvette Wray1992 Gowry Retchakan
1974. H. de Lange1981 Christine Warden1987. Sally Flemming1993. J. Parker
1975 Jan Roscoe1982 Sue. Morley1988. Sally Gunnell1994. Gowry Retchakan
1976. Christine Warden1983 Yvette Wray1989 Wendy Cearns1995. Gowry Retchakan
1978. M. Appleby1984 Gladys Taylor.1990 Gowry Retchakan 
1979. C. Warden1985 Yvette Wray.1991. Gowry Retchakan 
2010 H. Douglas2013 P. Shakes-Drayton2016 H. McLean2019 J. Turner
2011 E. Parker2014 E. Doyle2017 K. McAslan 
2012 E. Bonnett2015 J. Tappin2018 H. McLean   

*N.B. Names are as recorded on the trophy and are not always as recorded elsewhere, hence Cowry for Gowry.  AAA are grateful to Ruth Lockley of Birchfield Harriers for additional information on Malcolm Horsman.