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Dave Hemery

Full name: David Peter "Dave" Hemery
Gender: Male
Height: 6'2" (187 cm)
Weight: 159 lbs (72 kg)
Born: July 18, 1944 in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, Great Britain
Affiliations: Hillingdon AC, London (GBR) / Boston University Terriers, Boston (USA)
Country: GBR Great Britain
Sport: Athletics

Medals: 1 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze (3 Total)

Biography

David Hemery was one of those rare athletes who, by a single performance, can be said to have revolutionized an event. In the final of the 400 metres hurdles at the 1968 Olympics he gave a display of power speed and technique that had never been approached in the event and his reward was a new world record of 48.1 seconds.

As a boy, David Hemery spent ten years at the Thayer School in Massachusetts where his father was working as an accountant. He returned to England in 1962, but after some excellent performances as a junior high hurdler he went back to America and enrolled at Boston University in the autumn of 1964. During the next few seasons, Hemery represented Boston with distinction at the major US collegiate meetings and regularly crossed the Atlantic to complete for Great Britain in international matches. In 1966, he set a British record for the high hurdles of 13.9 seconds, won the Commonwealth title in Jamaica and had his first major win the 440 yards hurdles at the IC4A Championships in New York. After missing the 1967 outdoor season, Hemery won the 1968 NCAA title and twice reduced the British 400 metres hurdles record during the course of his Olympic build-up. At the Mexico Olympics in October, he made a further reduction to the British record in the semi-finals of the 400 metres hurdles and then came his historic run in the final, when he ran 48.1 seconds to set a world record which was to last four years and a British record which remained unbeaten until 1990. Appropriately, Hemery received his Olympic gold medal from David, Lord Burghley, who had won the event for Great Britain 40 years earlier.

At the end of the 1968 season, Hemery was awarded the MBE and went up to St. Catherine's College, Oxford, where he showed a remarkable talent as a decathlete, and by the end of 1969 he was ranked seventh on the UK all-time list. In 1969 he improved his own British 110 metres hurdles record to 13.6 seconds while the highlights of 1970 were the successful defense of his Commonwealth title and win the World Student Games. After a rest from competition in 1971, Hemery returned to the track in 1972 and in the Olympic final in Munich he ran 48.5 seconds to fish third place. He also won a silver medal in the 4×400 metre relay, when Britain equaled the European record.

Hemery finished his amateur career on a winning note in the match against France in October 1972, and although he later had a few races as a professional he will always be remembered for his astonishing performance at Mexico City in October, 1968. After retirement, Hemery managed the Sobell Centre in London for two years but in 1975 he returned to America and spent seven years coaching at Boston University.

He settled in England again in 1982 to run coaching courses and work with an educational trust. Hemery served a term as president of UK Athletics and in 2008 became vice-chairman of the British Olympic Association.

Personal Bests: 400 – 46.6y (1968); 110H – 13.4 (1970); 400H – 48.12 (1968); Dec – 6893* (1969).

Results

Games Age City Sport Event Team NOC Rank Medal
1968 Summer 24 Ciudad de México Athletics Men's 400 metres Hurdles Great Britain GBR 1 Gold WR
1968 Summer 24 Ciudad de México Athletics Men's 4 × 400 metres Relay Great Britain GBR 5
1972 Summer 28 München Athletics Men's 400 metres Hurdles Great Britain GBR 3 Bronze
1972 Summer 28 München Athletics Men's 4 × 400 metres Relay Great Britain GBR 2 Silver

Men's 400 metres Hurdles

Games Age City Sport Country Phase Unit Rank T(H) T(A) L
1968 Summer 24 Ciudad de México Athletics Great Britain Final 1 WR 48.1 48.12 6
1968 Summer 24 Ciudad de México Athletics Great Britain Semi-Finals Heat Two 3 QU 49.3 49.37
1968 Summer 24 Ciudad de México Athletics Great Britain Round One Heat Four 2 QU 50.3 50.33
1972 Summer 28 München Athletics Great Britain Final 3 48.52 5
1972 Summer 28 München Athletics Great Britain Semi-Finals Heat One 3 QU 49.66 5
1972 Summer 28 München Athletics Great Britain Round One Heat Two 1 QU 49.72 5

Men's 4 × 400 metres Relay

Games Age City Sport Team NOC Phase Unit Rank T(H) T(A) ST
1968 Summer 24 Ciudad de México Athletics Great Britain GBR Final 5 3:01.2 3:01.21 44,6
1968 Summer 24 Ciudad de México Athletics Great Britain GBR Round One Heat Two 2 QU 3:03.6 3:03.67
1972 Summer 28 München Athletics Great Britain GBR Final 2 3:00.46 45,2
1972 Summer 28 München Athletics Great Britain GBR Round One Heat One 1 QU 3:01.26