Desborough Perpetual Challenge Cup

The Women’s Amateur Athletic Association Championship Desborough Perpetual Challenge Cup, presented by The Lord Desborough G.C.V.O. for The Long Jump

By Dr Jane Ainsworth

The Story of the Event

Trying to summarise the achievements of the Women’s Amateur Athletic Association long jump champions is a daunting task. From Muriel Gunn (later Cornell), the first woman to use the hitchkick and world record holder in 1926, to Katarina Johnson-Thompson, World and Commonwealth heptathlon and World Indoor pentathlon champion, the roll of honour for this trophy is filled with superstars.
Many of the champions were talented in a number of events. Jean Desforges (later Pickering), European Champion in 1954, also competed with success in the hurdles and sprint relay and is one of a number of Olympic medallists (bronze in Helsinki 1952) to have won the event. Dorothy Tyler, better known as a high jumper, became champion in 1951, while the 1964 Olympic 800m champion, Ann Packer, prevailed in 1960.

The Women’s Amateur Athletic Association Championship Desborough Perpetual Challenge Cup for long jump
Photo credit: David Rowan

Amid these champions, the name of Mary Bignal (later Rand) stands out. The length of her 6.76m jump to win Olympic gold in Tokyo in 1964 was measured out twice back home, its length caused such a stir.  One example can still be visited, in the marketplace of her hometown of Wells; the other is in a corridor of Buckingham Palace. Rand’s mark stood as a British record for 19 years, until Bev Kinch’s 6.90m jump at the World Championships in 1983.

The Donor
Lord Desborough was one of the leading figures in British sport at the beginning of the twentieth century. As a representative on the International Olympic Committee from 1905, he is credited by contemporaries as being the leading force in bringing the Olympics to London in 1908, after Rome had to withdraw their candidacy. His knowledge of the needs of a range of sports contributed to the success of the Games, since Desborough served as president of five national sporting associations: cricket (MCC), tennis (LTA), fencing, wrestling, and athletics (AAA 4th president). A good athlete himself, Desborough finished 2nd in the 3 Miles at the Varsity Competition between the universities of Cambridge and Oxford and served as President of the Oxford University Athletic Club in the 1870s. In 1904 (aged 49) he represented Great Britain at fencing in the St Louis Olympics.

It is rare among the donors of the AAA trophies to find an individual working with both the women’s and men’s organisations and Desborough’s decision to donate this trophy in 1925 when there were events on the men’s programme without trophies underlines his commitment to the early development of the WAAA. In the same year he contributed an introduction to WAAA Vice-President Sophie Eliot-Lynn’s Athletics for Women and Girls. Away from athletics, Desborough served four terms as an MP and was President of the London Chamber of Commerce, serving at one time on 115 different committees. He climbed the Matterhorn three times, swam Niagara twice and enjoyed big game hunting.

History of the Trophy
This trophy was awarded to winners of the WAAA Long Jump championship from 1925-1995; the event had been contested from the first championships in 1923. Since 2010 the trophy has been awarded to the winner of the England Senior Championships Long Jump.

Previous Winners*

 1951 D. Tyler1973 M.A. Nimmo
1925 H.M. Hatt1952 S. Cawley1974 R. Martin-Jones
1926 P.A. Green1953 J. Desforges1975 M.A. Nimmo
1927 M.A. Gunn1954 J. Desforges1976 S.D. Reeve
1928 M.A. Gunn1955 T. Hopkins1977 S. D. Reeve
1929 M.A. Cornell1956 S. Hoskin1978 J. Davies
1930 M.A. Cornell1957 C. Persighetti1979 S.C. Hearnshaw
1931 M.A. Cornell1958 S. Hoskin1980 S.D. Reeve
1932 P. Bartholomew1959 M. Bignal1981 A.P. Manley
1933 P. Bartholomew1960 A. Packer1982 R. Strong
1934 P. Bartholomew1961 (M. Rand)*1983 R. Lorraway
1935 E. Raby1962 J. Bijleveld1984 S.C. Hearnshaw
1936 E. Raby1963 M. Rand1985 J. Oladapo
1937 E. Raby1964 M. Rand1986 M. Berkeley
1938 E.M. Raby1965 M. Rand1987 M. Berkeley
1939 E.M. Raby1966 B. Berthelsen1988 N. Boegman
 1967 B. Berthelsen1989 N. Boegman
1946 E. Raby1968 S. Sherwood1990 F. May
1947 K. Duffy1969 S. Sherwood1991 F. May
1948 (J. Shepherd)*1970 I. Mickler1992 F. May
1949 M. Erskine1971 S. Berto1993 N. Boegman
1950 M. Erskine1972 S. Sherwood1994 Oluyinka Idowu
2010 A. Harris2013 S. Proctor2016 E. Broome
2011 A. Woodman2014 K. Johnson-Thompson2017 K. Stainton
2012 A. Woodman2015 S. Hibbert2018 L. Hadaway
  2019 A. Irozuru

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