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400 Metres Hurdles

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Title: 400 Metres Hurdles  
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Subject: 2011 European Team Championships, CARIFTA Games, Kaliese Spencer, Ottavio Missoni, Stéphane Diagana
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400 Metres Hurdles

400 metres hurdles
Women's 400m hurdles.
Men's records
World Kevin Young 46.78 (1992)
Olympic Kevin Young 46.78 (1992)
Women's records
World Yuliya Pechonkina 52.34 (2003)
Olympic Melaine Walker 52.64 (2008)

The 400 metres hurdles is a track and field hurdling event. The event has been on the Olympic athletics programme since 1900 for men and since 1984 for women.

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 was held for both sexes at the inaugural IAAF World Championships in Athletics. The first championship for women came at the 1980 World Championships in Athletics – being held as a one-off due to the lack of a race at the 1980 Summer Olympics.


  • History 1
  • Hurdling technique 2
    • Block start 2.1
    • Hurdling 2.2
    • Stride length 2.3
  • Statistics 3
    • All-time top 25 men 3.1
    • All-time top 25 women 3.2
    • Milestones 3.3
  • Most successful athletes 4
  • Olympic medalists 5
    • Men 5.1
    • Women 5.2
  • World Championships medalists 6
    • Men 6.1
    • Women 6.2
  • Season's bests 7
  • Notes and references 8


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 Men's World Champion having been crowned the year before at the inaugural IAAF World Championships in Athletics. A special edition of the Women's 400m Hurdles happened in the 1980 IAAF World Championships in Athletics in response to the Women's 400m Hurdles not being included in the boycotted 1980 Moscow Olympics and the Liberty Bell Classic.

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.


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 lean 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 disqualification 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 other 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 2015[1]

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

All-time top 25 women

As of January 2015[2]

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


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 26 August 1977 until 4 June 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. 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 25 July 1976 (twice in one day) until it was finally broken by Kevin Young at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

Edwin Moses

Olympic medalists


Games Gold Silver Bronze
1900 Paris
 Walter Tewksbury (USA)  Henri Tauzin (FRA)   )CAN(
1904 St. Louis
 Harry Hillman (USA)  Frank Waller (USA)   )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
  )USA(  Erik Wilén (FIN)  Ivan Riley (USA)
1928 Amsterdam
 David Burghley (GBR)  Frank Cuhel (USA)   )USA(
1932 Los Angeles
 Bob Tisdall (IRL)  Glenn Hardin (USA)   )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-Somaily (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
 Fani Halkia (GRE)  Ionela Târlea-Manolache (ROU)  Tetyana 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 medalists


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)
2015  Nicholas Bett (KEN)  Denis Kudryavtsev (RUS)  Jeffery Gibson (BAH)


  • 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 Ambrazienė (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)
2015  Zuzana Hejnová (CZE)  Shamier Little (USA)  Cassandra Tate (USA)

Season's bests

As of August 26, 2015

Notes and references

  1. ^ "400 Metres Hurdles Men All Time".  
  2. ^ "400 Metres Hurdles Women All Time".  
  3. ^ "400 Metres Hurdles Results".  
  4. ^ "400 Metres Hurdles Results". 8 June 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  5. ^ IAAF World Championships in Athletics. GBR Athletics.
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