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400 Metre Hurdles

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Title: 400 Metre Hurdles  
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Subject: Hurdling, Chris Rawlinson, Charles Moore (athlete), Louis Jacob van Zyl, Miguel White, August Desch, Anastasiya Rabchenyuk, Holger Albrechtsen, Oleh Tverdokhlib, Cornelia Ullrich
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400 Metre Hurdles

The 400 metres hurdles is an Olympic athletics event in track and field. On a standard outdoor track, 400 metres is the length of the inside lane once around the stadium. Runners stay in their lanes the entire way after starting out of the blocks and must clear ten hurdles that are evenly spaced around the track. The hurdles are positioned and weighted so that they fall forward if bumped into with sufficient force, to prevent injury to the runners. Although there is no longer any penalty for knocking hurdles over, runners prefer to clear them cleanly, as touching them during the race slows runners down.

The best male athletes can run the 400 m hurdles in a time of around 47 seconds, while the best female athletes achieve a time of around 53 seconds. The current men's and women's world record holders are Kevin Young with 46.78 seconds and Yuliya Pechonkina with 52.34 seconds. Compared to the 400 metres run, the hurdles race takes the men about three seconds longer and the women four seconds longer.

The 400 m hurdles have been an Olympic discipline since 1900 and 1984 for men and women, respectively.


The first awards in a 400 m hurdles race were given in 1860 when a race was held in Oxford, England, over a course of 440 yards (402.336 m). While running the course, participants had to clear twelve wooden hurdles, over 100 centimetres tall, that had been spaced in even intervals.

To reduce the risk of injury, somewhat more lightweight constructions were introduced in 1895 that runners could push over. However, until 1935 runners were disqualified if they pushed over more than three hurdles in a race and records were only officially accepted if the runner in question had cleared all hurdles clean and left them all standing.

The 400 m hurdles became an Olympic event at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. At the same time, the race was standardized so that virtually identical races could be held and the finish times compared to each other. As a result, the official distance was fixed to 400 metres, or one lap of the stadium, and the number of hurdles was reduced to ten. The official height of the hurdles was set to 91.4 cm (3 feet) for men and 76.20 cm (2 ft, 6 inches) for women. The hurdles were now placed on the course with a run-up to the first hurdle of 45 metres, a distance between the hurdles of 35 metres each, and a home stretch from the last hurdle to the finish line of 40 metres.

The first documented 400 m hurdles race for women took place in 1971. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) introduced the event officially as a discipline in 1974, although it was not run at the Olympics until 1984, the first World Champion having been crowned the year before at the inaugural IAAF World Championships in Athletics.

Many athletic commentators and officials have often brought up the idea of lifting the height of the women's 400 m hurdles to incorporate a greater requirement of hurdling skill. This is a view held by German athletic coach Norbert Stein: "All this means that the women's hurdles for specialists, who are the target group to be dealt with in this discussion, is considerably depreciated in skill demands when compared to the men's hurdles. It should not be possible in the women's hurdles that the winner is an athlete whose performance in the flat sprint is demonstrably excellent but whose technique of hurdling is only moderate and whose anthropometric characteristics are not optimal. This was the case at the World Championships in Seville and the same problem can often be seen at international and national meetings."

Hurdling Technique

“The 400m hurdle race one of the most demanding of all events in the sprint-hurdle group.” (Lindeman) It requires speed, endurance, and hurdling technique all along with unique awareness and special concentration throughout the race.

Block Start

When preparing to hurdle, the blocks should be set so that the athlete arrives at the first hurdle leading on the desired leg without inserting a stutter step. A stutter step is when the runner has to chop his or her stride down to arrive on the "correct" leg for take off. Throughout the race, any adjustments to stride length stride speed should be made several strides out from the hurdle because a stutter or being too far from the hurdle at take off will result in loss of momentum and speed.

Going over the hurdle

At the beginning of the take-off, the knee must be driven toward the hurdle and the foot then extended. The knee should be slightly bent when crossing the hurdle. Unless an athlete’s body has great flexibility, the knee must be slightly bent to allow a forward body lean. Unlike the 110m hurdles, a significant forward body learn is not that necessary due to the hurdles being lower. However, the trail leg must be kept bent and short to provide a quick lever action allowing a fast hurdle clearance. The knee should pull through under the armpit and should not be flat across the top of the hurdle.

It is also important that the hurdler doesn’t reach out on the last stride before the hurdle as this will result in a longer bound being made to clear the hurdle. This will also result in a loss of momentum if the foot lands well in front of the center of gravity.

Stride Length

Using a left lead leg on the bends allows the hurdler to run closer to the inside of the lane and cover a shorter distance. Additionally, if the left leg is used for the lead, then the athlete's upper body can be leaned to the left, making it easier to bring the trail leg through. Additionally, an athlete hurdling with a right leg lead around the bends must take care that they do not inadvertently trail their foot or toe around the hurdle rather than passing over the top, which would lead to a disqualifciation from the race. At an early age, many coaches train their athletes to hurdle with both legs. This is a useful skill to learn since as a runner tires, their stride length may decrease, resulting in the need either to add a stutter stride, or to take a hurdle on the right leg. The 400 metre hurdles is a very physically demanding race. It requires intense training to get the endurance, speed and technique needed to compete.


All-time top 25 men

As of January 2013[1]

Pos Time Athlete Country Venue Date
1. 46.78 Kevin Young  United States Barcelona August 6, 1992
2. 47.02 Edwin Moses  United States Koblenz August 31, 1983
3. 47.03 Bryan Bronson  United States New Orleans June 21, 1998
4. 47.10 Samuel Matete  Zambia Zürich August 7, 1991
5. 47.19 Andre Phillips  United States Seoul September 25, 1988
6. 47.23 Amadou Dia Ba  Senegal Seoul September 25, 1988
7. 47.24 Kerron Clement  United States Carson, California June 26, 2005
8. 47.25 Félix Sánchez  Dominican Republic Paris, Saint-Denis August 29, 2003
Angelo Taylor  United States Beijing August 18, 2008
10. 47.30 Bershawn Jackson  United States Helsinki August 9, 2005
11. 47.37 Stéphane Diagana  France Lausanne July 5, 1995
12. 47.38 Danny Harris  United States Lausanne July 10, 1991
13. 47.43 James Carter  United States Helsinki August 9, 2005
14. 47.48 Harald Schmid  West Germany Athens September 8, 1982
15. 47.53 Hadi Soua'an Al-Somaily  Saudi Arabia Sydney September 27, 2000
16. 47.54 Derrick Adkins  United States Lausanne July 5, 1995
Fabrizio Mori  Italy Edmonton August 10, 2001
18. 47.60 Winthrop Graham  Jamaica Zürich August 4, 1993
19. 47.63 Johnny Dutch  United States Des Moines June 26, 2010
20. 47.66 Louis Jacob van Zyl  South Africa Pretoria February 25, 2011
21. 47.67 Bennie Brazell  United States Sacramento June 11, 2005
22. 47.69 Jehue Gordon  Trinidad and Tobago Moscow August 15, 2013
23. 47.70 Michael Tinsley  United States Moscow August 15, 2013
24. 47.72 Javier Culson  Puerto Rico Ponce, PR May 8, 2010
25. 47.75 David Patrick  United States Indianapolis July 17, 1988

All-time top 25 women

As of August 2013[2]

Pos. Time Athlete Country Venue Date Ref
1. 52.34 Yuliya Pechonkina  Russia Tula August 8, 2003
2. 52.42 Melaine Walker  Jamaica Berlin August 20, 2009
3. 52.47 Lashinda Demus  United States Daegu September 1, 2011
4. 52.61 Kim Batten  United States Göteborg August 11, 1995
5. 52.62 Tonja Buford-Bailey  United States Göteborg August 11, 1995
6. 52.70 Natalya Antyukh  Russia London August 8, 2012 [3]
7. 52.74 Sally Gunnell  United Kingdom Stuttgart August 19, 1993
8. 52.77 Fani Halkia  Greece Athens August 22, 2004
9. 52.79 Sandra Farmer-Patrick  United States Stuttgart August 19, 1993
Kaliese Spencer  Jamaica London August 5, 2011
11. 52.82 Deon Hemmings  Jamaica Atlanta July 31, 1996
12. 52.83 Zuzana Hejnová  Czech Republic Moscow August 15, 2013
13. 52.89 Daimí Pernía  Cuba Seville August 25, 1999
14. 52.90 Nezha Bidouane  Morocco Seville August 25, 1999
15. 52.94 Marina Stepanova  Soviet Union Tashkent September 17, 1986
16. 52.95 Sheena Johnson  United States Sacramento July 11, 2004
17. 53.02 Irina Privalova  Russia Sydney September 27, 2000
18. 53.11 Tatyana Ledovskaya  Soviet Union Tokyo August 29, 1991
19. 53.17 Debbie Flintoff-King  Australia Seoul September 28, 1988
20. 53.20 Josanne Lucas  Trinidad and Tobago Berlin August 20, 2009
21. 53.21 Marie-José Pérec  France Zürich August 16, 1995
Kori Carter  United States Eugene June 7, 2013 [4]
23. 53.22 Jana Rawlinson  Australia Paris Saint-Denis August 28, 2003
24. 53.24 Sabine Busch  East Germany Potsdam August 21, 1987
25. 53.25 Ionela Târlea  Romania Rome July 7, 1999


  • Women
    • First official world record: 56.51 seconds, Krystyna Kacperczyk (POL), 1974
    • First under 56 seconds: 55.74 seconds, Tatjana Storoschewa (USSR), 1977
    • First under 55 seconds: 54.89 seconds, Tatjana Selenzowa (USSR), 1978
    • First under 54 seconds: 53.58 seconds, Margarita Ponomaryova (USSR), 1984
    • First under 53 seconds: 52.94 seconds, Marina Stepanova (USSR), 1986

Most successful athletes

American athlete Glenn Davis had a prodigious start to his hurdling career, running his first race in April 1956 in 54.4 s. Two months later, he ran a new world record with 49.5 s and later that year he won the 400 m hurdles at the Olympics, and was also the first to repeat that feat in 1960.

In terms of success and longevity in competition, Edwin Moses' record is significant: he won 122 races in a row between 1977 and 1987 plus two gold medals at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montréal, and the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He was undefeated for exactly nine years nine months and nine days, from August 26, 1977 until June 4, 1987. The U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow prevented him from winning a hat-trick of gold medals, but his career is nonetheless widely regarded as one of the most successful in hurdling. His winning streak lasted until he finished third in the 1988 Olympic final, the last race in his professional career. He also held the world record for sixteen years from when he first broke it at the Olympics on July 25, 1976 (twice in one day) until it was finally broken by Kevin Young at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.


Olympic Games


Games Gold Silver Bronze
1900 Paris  Walter Tewksbury (USA)  Henri Tauzin (FRA)  George Orton (CAN)
1904 St. Louis  Harry Hillman (USA)  Frank Waller (USA)  George Poage (USA)
1908 London  Charles Bacon (USA)  Harry Hillman (USA)  Jimmy Tremeer (GBR)
1912 Stockholm not included in the Olympic program
1920 Antwerp  Frank Loomis (USA)  John Norton (USA)  August Desch (USA)
1924 Paris  Morgan Taylor (USA)  Erik Wilén (FIN)  Ivan Riley (USA)
1928 Amsterdam  David Burghley (GBR)  Frank Cuhel (USA)  Morgan Taylor (USA)
1932 Los Angeles  Bob Tisdall (IRL)  Glenn Hardin (USA)  Morgan Taylor (USA)
1936 Berlin  Glenn Hardin (USA)  John Loaring (CAN)  Miguel White (PHI)
1948 London  Roy Cochran (USA)  Duncan White (CEY)  Rune Larsson (SWE)
1952 Helsinki  Charles Moore (USA)  Yuriy Lituyev (URS)  John Holland (NZL)
1956 Melbourne  Glenn Davis (USA)  Eddie Southern (USA)  Josh Culbreath (USA)
1960 Rome  Glenn Davis (USA)  Clifton Cushman (USA)  Dick Howard (USA)
1964 Tokyo  Rex Cawley (USA)  John Cooper (GBR)  Salvatore Morale (ITA)
1968 Mexico City  David Hemery (GBR)  Gerhard Hennige (FRG)  John Sherwood (GBR)
1972 Munich  John Akii-Bua (UGA)  Ralph Mann (USA)  David Hemery (GBR)
1976 Montreal  Edwin Moses (USA)  Michael Shine (USA)  Yevgeniy Gavrilenko (URS)
1980 Moscow  Volker Beck (GDR)  Vasyl Arkhypenko (URS)  Gary Oakes (GBR)
1984 Los Angeles  Edwin Moses (USA)  Danny Harris (USA)  Harald Schmid (FRG)
1988 Seoul  André Phillips (USA)  Amadou Dia Ba (SEN)  Edwin Moses (USA)
1992 Barcelona  Kevin Young (USA)  Winthrop Graham (JAM)  Kriss Akabusi (GBR)
1996 Atlanta  Derrick Adkins (USA)  Samuel Matete (ZAM)  Calvin Davis (USA)
2000 Sydney  Angelo Taylor (USA)  Hadi Al Somayli (KSA)  Llewellyn Herbert (RSA)
2004 Athens  Félix Sánchez (DOM)  Danny McFarlane (JAM)  Naman Keïta (FRA)
2008 Beijing  Angelo Taylor (USA)  Kerron Clement (USA)  Bershawn Jackson (USA)
2012 London  Félix Sánchez (DOM)  Michael Tinsley (USA)  Javier Culson (PUR)


Games Gold Silver Bronze
1984 Los Angeles  Nawal El Moutawakel (MAR)  Judi Brown (USA)  Cristieana Cojocaru (ROU)
1988 Seoul  Debbie Flintoff-King (AUS)  Tatyana Ledovskaya (URS)  Ellen Fiedler (GDR)
1992 Barcelona  Sally Gunnell (GBR)  Sandra Farmer-Patrick (USA)  Janeene Vickers (USA)
1996 Atlanta  Deon Hemmings (JAM)  Kim Batten (USA)  Tonja Buford-Bailey (USA)
2000 Sydney  Irina Privalova (RUS)  Deon Hemmings (JAM)  Nezha Bidouane (MAR)
2004 Athens  Faní Halkiá (GRE)  Ionela Târlea-Manolache (ROU)  Tetiana Tereshchuk-Antipova (UKR)
2008 Beijing  Melaine Walker (JAM)  Sheena Tosta (USA)  Tasha Danvers (GBR)
2012 London  Natalya Antyukh (RUS)  Lashinda Demus (USA)  Zuzana Hejnová (CZE)

World Championships


Year Gold Silver Bronze
1983  Edwin Moses (USA)  Harald Schmid (FRG)  Aleksandr Kharlov (URS)
1987  Edwin Moses (USA)  Danny Harris (USA)  Harald Schmid (FRG)
1991  Samuel Matete (ZAM)  Winthrop Graham (JAM)  Kriss Akabusi (GBR)
1993  Kevin Young (USA)  Samuel Matete (ZAM)  Winthrop Graham (JAM)
1995  Derrick Adkins (USA)  Samuel Matete (ZAM)  Stéphane Diagana (FRA)
1997  Stéphane Diagana (FRA)  Llewellyn Herbert (RSA)  Bryan Bronson (USA)
1999  Fabrizio Mori (ITA)  Stéphane Diagana (FRA)  Marcel Schelbert (SUI)
2001  Félix Sánchez (DOM)  Fabrizio Mori (ITA)  Dai Tamesue (JPN)
2003  Félix Sánchez (DOM)  Joey Woody (USA)  Periklis Iakovakis (GRE)
2005  Bershawn Jackson (USA)  James Carter (USA)  Dai Tamesue (JPN)
2007  Kerron Clement (USA)  Félix Sánchez (DOM)  Marek Plawgo (POL)
2009  Kerron Clement (USA)  Javier Culson (PUR)  Bershawn Jackson (USA)
2011  Dai Greene (GBR)  Javier Culson (PUR)  L.J. Van Zyl (RSA)
2013  Jehue Gordon (TRI)  Michael Tinsley (USA)  Emir Bekrić (SRB)


  • The official IAAF World Championships in Athletics began in 1983, but in 1980, the women's 3000 metres and 400 metres hurdles events had a World Championship competition in Sittard, Netherlands. This was due to these events not yet being on the Olympic program, (the same had happened in 1976 for the men's 50 km walk).[5]
Year Gold Silver Bronze
1980  Barbel Broschat (GDR)  Ellen Fiedler (GDR)  Petra Pfaff (GDR)
1983  Yekaterina Fesenko (URS)  Anna Ambraziené (URS)  Ellen Fiedler (GDR)
1987  Sabine Busch (GDR)  Debbie Flintoff-King (AUS)  Cornelia Ullrich (GDR)
1991  Tatyana Ledovskaya (URS)  Sally Gunnell (GBR)  Janeene Vickers (USA)
1993  Sally Gunnell (GBR)  Sandra Farmer-Patrick (USA)  Margarita Ponomaryova (RUS)
1995  Kim Batten (USA)  Tonya Buford-Bailey (USA)  Deon Hemmings (JAM)
1997  Nezha Bidouane (MAR)  Deon Hemmings (JAM)  Kim Batten (USA)
1999  Daimi Pernia (CUB)  Nezha Bidouane (MAR)  Deon Hemmings (JAM)
2001  Nezha Bidouane (MAR)  Yuliya Nosova (RUS)  Daimí Pernía (CUB)
2003  Jana Rawlinson (AUS)  Sandra Glover (USA)  Yuliya Pechonkina (RUS)
2005  Yuliya Pechonkina (RUS)  Lashinda Demus (USA)  Sandra Glover (USA)
2007  Jana Rawlinson (AUS)  Yuliya Pechonkina (RUS)  Anna Jesień (POL)
2009  Melaine Walker (JAM)  Lashinda Demus (USA)  Josanne Lucas (TRI)
2011  Lashinda Demus (USA)  Melaine Walker (JAM)  Natalya Antyukh (RUS)
2013  Zuzana Hejnová (CZE)  Dalilah Muhammad (USA)  Lashinda Demus (USA)

Season's bests

See also


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