Wimbledon Perpetual Trophy

Women’s Amateur Athletic Association National Championship 100m Hurdles

By Dr Jane Ainsworth

The Story of the Event

The sprint hurdles is one of the oldest events on the championship programme, although the exact distances have varied over the course of the event’s history. 

First contested over 120 yards in 1922, two events were contested in 1927 at 75m and 100 yards, before reverting to one competition of 100 yards in 1928 before finally settling on 80m in 1929, the distance which became the standard Olympic distance for the event until 1968 when it was extended to 100m. 
Between 1963-1968 two sprint hurdle events were contested at the Women’s Amateur Athletic Association Championships, with this trophy being awarded for the 100m hurdles, the event which has continued and is the Olympic distance. 

Women’s Amateur Athletic Association National Championship 100m Hurdles trophy
Photo credit: Ruth Brennan

Hurdles for the 100m event were initially set at a height of 2’6”, before being raised to 2’9” in 1967. The WAAA were keen at an early stage to raise the hurdles to 3’, but the proposal put before the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) by the WAAA’s Marea Hartman was turned down.

The shorter hurdles distance was won by some of the outstanding early talents of women’s athletics, such as Mary Lines, the fastest sprinter of the 1920s, Maureen Gardner (later Dyson) who was WAAA champion four times and Olympic silver medallist in 1948, and Jean Desforges (later Pickering), also winner of four titles, with European gold and Olympic bronze medals to boot. With her husband Ron, Jean would go on to make a lasting impact on the accessibility of athletics for young people in Britain through the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund. In 1960, Carole Quinton followed up her second WAAA title with an Olympic silver medal in Rome.

Winners of the hurdles championship continued to provide good indication of Olympic success when the distance moved up to 100m and this trophy was awarded. Olympic pentathlon silver medallist Mary Rand (Tokyo 1964) and Mary Peters who won two Commonwealth Golds (1970 and 1974) and Olympic Gold (1972) in Pentathlon, have both lifted the trophy, along with Chi Cheng of Taipei (1969 champion) and Valeria Bufanu of Romania (1971 champion) going on to win Olympic bronze and silver medals respectively in the hurdles. 

1972 champion Pam Ryan won Olympic bronze in 1964 and silver in 1968 in Mexico, adding to her outstanding Commonwealth Games record; two gold medals in each of three successive Games, 1962, 1966, 1970. She also set a world record for the 80m hurdles in 1965. The trend continued into the 1980s when the two most frequent winners of this title dominated; Shirley Strong, Olympic silver medallist in 1984 and Commonwealth champion, won six championships, and Sally Gunnell, who won the full set of championships and held the world record for the 1 lap event, won seven.  More recently, Tiffany Porter won a bronze medal at the World Championships and Serita Solomon took European Indoor bronze.

The Donor

It is likely that the owners of the greyhound stadium at Wimbledon were encouraged to donate this trophy by George Stratford, one of the founders of Bromley Ladies Athletics Club.  Stratford himself was a hurdles coach.  The trophy for the 80m hurdles, awarded until 1963, was donated by the Earl of Lonsdale, a colourful character more normally associated with Boxing (he donated the original Lonsdale Belts) and Horse Racing, although he famously walked 100 miles of the Great North Road in 17 hours 21 minutes.

History of the Trophy

WAAA champions in the sprint hurdles received this trophy from 1963, although the event had been run over varying distances (see above) since the organisation’s inception in 1922.  Since 2010 the trophy has been presented to the winner of the England Senior Championships 100m Hurdles. 

Previous Winners

1963 P. Nutting1976 S. Colyear1989 Sally Gunnell
1964 P. Pryce1977 Lorna Booth1990 Lesley-Ann Skeete
1965 P. Jones1978 Sharon Colyear1991 Sally Gunnell
1966 M. Rand1979 Shirley Strong1992 Sally Gunnell
1967 P. Jones1980 Shirley Strong1993 Sally Gunnell
1968 C. Perera1981 Shirley Strong1994 Clova Court
1969 C. Cheng1982 S Strong1995 Melanie Wilkins
1970 M. Peters1983 Shirley Strong 
1971 V. Bufanu1984 Shirley Strong 
1972 P. Ryan1985 G. Nunn 
1973 J. Vernon1986 Sally Gunnell 
1974 L. Drysdale1987 Sally Gunnell 
1975 E. Damman1988 Sally Gunnell 
2010 Zara Hohn  
2011 Angelita Broadbelt-Blake  
2012 S. Solomon  
2013 T. Porter  
2014 T. Porter  
2015 S. Solomon  
2016 A. Broadbelt-Blake  
2017 Y. Miller  
2018 J. Hunter  
2019 A. Barrett  

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