Running High Jump Amateur Championship Challenge Cup

Presented to Amateur Athletic Club by Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny Bart, 1875

By Dr Jane Ainsworth

The Story of the Event

High Jump has always been a question of style. Competitors in 1875 were praised as much for their style as for the height they jumped, to the extent that by 1888 Amateur Athletics Association were compelled to ban diving and somersaulting. Competitors landed on grass, and it was therefore suggested that a further rule should make athletes land on their feet; this was not passed. By 1912 attitudes had softened sufficiently to allow a pit of sand to be dug to ease the landing and it was this innovation which made it possible for the changing styles, from Western Roll to Fosbury Flop, to develop. Sand was still being used as a landing area in schools and local competitions well into the 1950s.

The AAA High Jump championship has consistently featured overseas winners. Irish athlete Con Leahy was the outstanding jumper if his day, winning four successive AAA high jump titles between 1905 and 1908. Leahy won silver at the 1908 Paris Olympics and took gold in the high jump and silver in the triple jump at the Intercalated Games in Athens 1906. In 1925 Harold Osborn, the American high jump and decathlon champion, took the AAA title and changed the set-up of the bar in the process as his Western Roll technique push the bar against the uprights under the old system, preventing it falling. Before and after World War I, the competition was dominated the multi-talented Howard Baker, a British athlete who also won the Men’s Pole Vault trophy in addition to this title on several occasions. More recently 1992 and 1995 AAA champion Steve Smith’s won silver for Britain in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. British athletes Germain Mason and Robbie Grabarz’s have also both win this event and to medal in Olympic Games with Mason taking silver in Beijing 2008 and Grabarz a bronze at London 2012.

Photo Credit: David Rowan

The Donor

‘Where there is a daring deed to be done in any part of the world, an Englishman should leap to the front to accomplish it’

Champion de Crespigny, Sportsman’s Life

Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny was a teenager in need of diversions. He joined the Navy at the age of 13, transferring to the army six years later in 1866, the year of the first high jump championships. By 1875, when he donated the trophy, Claude had left the army, got married and become a father to the first of nine children, and become involved in horse racing and boxing. His exploits whilst riding in hunts in Ireland earned him the nickname ‘the Mad Rider’.

Champion de Crespigny’s desire for daring deeds continued throughout his life. He was the first man to cross the North Sea in a hot air balloon and the first European to swim the Nile Rapids in 1889. His entry in the Dictionary of National Biography notes, “in 1914, at the age of sixty-seven, Sir Claude rode in his last steeplechase, and thereafter devoted himself to the more leisurely pursuits, as he saw them, of sailing, swimming, high diving, and long-distance walking.”

History of the Trophy

AAA champions in the high jump received this trophy from 1875-1995 for the event first contested in 1866 at the championships held by the AAA’s precursor in athletics organisation, the Amateur Athletic Club. 

Since 2010 the trophy has been presented to the winner of the English Senior Championships High Jump.

Previous Winners*

1866 TGLittle/JHRoupell1897 C.E.H. Leggatt1930 C.E.S. Gordon1967 E. Lansdell
1867 C.E. Green1898 P. Leahy1931 A.J. Gray1968 D. Mendenhall
1868 RJCMitchell/JCHoare1899 P. Leahy1932 W.A. Land1969 K. Lundmark
1869 J.C. Hoare1900 I.K. Baxter1933 M. Bodosi1970 H. Tomizawa
1870 R.J. C. Mitchell1901 I.K. Baxter1934 M. Bodosi1971 M. Campbell
1871 R.J. C. Mitchell1902 S.S. Jones1935 S.R. West1972 M. Jamrich
1872 E.S. Prior1903 P. O’ Connor1936 J.P. Metcalfe1973 C. Dunn
1873 J.B. Hurst1904 3-way tie1937 J.L. Newman1974 D. Stones
1874 M.J. Brooks1905 C. Leahy1938 R. O’ Rafferty1975 R. Schiel
1875 M.G. Glazebrook1906 Con Leahy1939 J.L. Newman1976 (M. Palmer)*
1876 M.J. Brooks1907 Con Leahy1946 A.S. Paterson1977 A.F. Dainton
1877 G.W. Blathwayt1908 Con Leahy1947 Prince Adedoyin1978 F. Jacobs
1878 T. Tomlinson1909 J.H. Banks1948 J. A. Winter1979 T. Sakamoto
1879 R. H. Macaulay1910 B.H. Baker1949 A.S. Paterson1980 C. Thranhardt
1880 J.W. Parsons1911 R. Pasemann1950 A.S. Paterson1981 J. Frazier
1881 P. Davin1912 B. H. Baker1951 R.G. Pavitt1982 T. Sakamoto
1882 R.F. Houghton1913 B.H. Baker1952 R.G. Pavitt1983 L. Williams
1883 J.W. Parsons1914 W.M. Oler Jr1953 D.R.J. Cox1984 F. Centelles
1884 T. Rae1915 – No Championship1954 B.M.P. O’Reilly1985 M. Ottey
1885 P.J. Kellly1918 (European War)1955 W. Piper1986 G. Parsons
1886 (G. Rowdon)*1919 B.H. Baker1956 O. Soeter1987 G. Parsons
1887GWRowdon/WBPage1920 B. Howard Baker1957 O. Okuwobi1988 G. Parsons
1888 G.W. Rowdon1921 B. Howard Baker1958 P. Etolu1989 Dalton Grant
1889 T. Jennings1922 P. Lewden1959 C. Fairbrother1990 Dalton Grant
1890 C.W. Haward1923 P. Lewden1960 R.E. Kotei1991 Hollis Conway
1891 T. Jennings1924 L. Stanley1961 C.W.Fairbrother1992 Steve Smith
1892 A. Watkinson1925 H.M. Osborn1962 K. Sugioka1993 Tim Forsyth
1893 J.M. Ryan1926 C.T. van Geyzel1963 K. Sugioka1994 B. Reilly
1894 Regd Williams1927 H. Adolfsson1964 C.W.Fairbrother1995 Steve Smith
1895 J.M. Ryan1928 C. Menard1965 K.A. Nilsson 
1896 M. O’Brien1929 C. Kesmarki1966 J.S. kadiri 
2010 Robbie Grabarz2013 R. Grabarz2016 M. Edwards
2011 Robbie Grabarz2014 A. Smith2017 T. Gale
2012 T. Parsons2015 D. Smith2018 R. Webb
  2019 D. Smith

Names are recorded as on the trophy, not as elsewhere.  Where two names are listed, the event was tied. The winners of the 1904 competition were P. O’Connor, R Murray and J Milne. The 1886 and 1976 winners are unrecorded on the trophy and appear here bracketed with an asterisk.