The AAA Championships was an annual track and field competition organised by the Amateur Athletic Association of England. It was the foremost domestic athletics event in the United Kingdom during its lifetime. It was succeeded by the British Athletics Championships.
|Sport||Track and field|
The competition was founded in 1880, replacing the Amateur Athletic Club (AAC) Championships, which had been held since 1866. Initially a men-only competition, a Women's AAA Championships was introduced in 1922 with the first proper WAAA Championships in 1923 and organised by the Women's Amateur Athletics Association until 1992, at which point it was folded into the Amateur Athletics Association. During the 1920s and early 1930s, the AAA Championships was Europe's most prestigious athletics event until the European Athletics Championships were inaugurated in 1934. Events were contested and measured in imperial units until metrification in 1969, in line with international standards.
Though organised by the English governing body, it was open to all athletes from the United Kingdom, and also to overseas athletes. It served as the de facto British Championships, given the absence of such a competition for most of its history. It was typically held over two or three days over a weekend in July or August. Foreign athletes were no longer allowed to compete from 1998 onwards (with the change first being trialled in 1996), though they were still allowed to participate (but not formally placed) in the 10,000 m and marathon events.
The creation of the UK Athletics Championships in 1977 under the British Amateur Athletic Board (later British Athletics Federation) marked a challenge to the event's domestic supremacy, though the quality of that rival event declined after it hosted the 1980 Olympic trials and it ceased as an annual championships after 1993, closing completely after 1997. The AAA Championships incorporated the UK Olympic every four years from 1988 to 2004. The women's WAAA Championships was folded into the AAA Championships in 1988.
The establishment of UK Athletics in 1999 to serve as the national governing body for professional, elite athletics ultimately started the decline of the AAA Championships. UK Athletics took over the role of both national championships and international team selection with its own British Athletics Championships from 2007 onwards. The AAA Championships ceased to be a stand-alone event in its own right from that point onwards, though it re-emerged in 2016 in being co-held with the English Athletics Championships organised by England Athletics (a body for developing the grassroots level beneath UK Athletics).
The long-distance track events, marathon, racewalking events and combined track and field events were regularly held outside of the main track and field championship competition. Although the competition venue varied over the years, there were several locations that served as regular hosts over its history: Stamford Bridge (1886 to 1931), White City Stadium (1932 to 1970), Crystal Palace National Sports Centre (1971 to 1987) and Alexander Stadium (1984 to 2003).
The following athletics events featured as standard on the main AAA Championships programme:
- Sprint: 100 m, 200 m, 400 m
- Distance track events: 800 m, 1500 m, 5000 m
- Hurdles: 100 m hurdles, 110 m hurdles, 400 m hurdles, 3000 m steeplechase
- Jumps: long jump, triple jump, high jump, pole vault
- Throws: shot put, discus, hammer, javelin
The following events were regularly held, but often outside of the main programme:
- Long-distance track events: 10,000 m
- Combined events: pentathlon/heptathlon, decathlon
- Walks: 2 miles/3000/5000 m walk, 7 miles/10,000 m walk
- Road running: marathon
Races were contested, and field events measured, in yards and feet up until 1968. A men's 3000 metres was contested from 1989 to 1999. A men's 10-mile run was held from 1960 to 1972. The 220 yards hurdles was present form 1952 to 1962. On the women's side, the 2000 metres steeplechase was held in 2002 and 2003 before moving to the standard 3000 m distance. The 80 metres hurdles was contested until 1968 before being replaced by the new international standard 100 metres hurdles. The women's 200 metres hurdles was on the programme from 1961 to 1972. A 60 metres event was available from 1935 to 1950. A variety of relay races were contested by clubs prior to 1960.
Most successful athletes by event
- AAA Championships Women. GBR Athletics. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
- "Track Stats - John Powell". nuts.org.uk. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
The European Championships did not begin until 1934
- AAA Championships. NUTS. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
- UK Championships. GBR Athletics. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
- AAA Championships (Men). GBR Athletics. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
- AAA. England Athletics. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
- What We Do. England Athletics. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
- Athletes on form at England Athletics Senior Championships Archived 2018-02-26 at the Wayback Machine. England Athletics (2016-07-31). Retrieved 2018-02-25.
- AAA Championships. Power of 10. Retrieved 2018-02-25.