Lord David George Brownlow Cecil Burghley was one of the most popular winners of the 1928 Games. Heir to the Marquess of Exeter, he first appeared in the Olympics in 1924, when he was eliminated in the first round of the 110m hurdles. In 1927, during his last year at Cambridge, he caused a sensation by running around the Great Court at Trinity College in the time it took the Trinity Clock to toll 12 o'clock. A completely distorted version of this event was presented in the film Chariots of Fire, in which the feat is credited to Harold Abrahams. For this reason, Lord Burghley, who was then 76 years old, reportedly refused to view the film. At the 1928 Olympics, Burghley won the 400m hurdles. Burghley was an extremely colorful character, who once set another unusual record by racing around the upper promenade deck of the ocean liner Queen Mary in 57 seconds, dressed in street clothes. He is believed to be the first hurdler to place matchboxes on hurdles and practice knocking over the matchboxes with his lead foot without touching the hurdle. Burghley was elected to Parliament in 1931, but was granted a leave of absence to compete in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, where he placed fourth in the 400m hurdles. He later served as president of the British Amateur Athletic Association for 40 years, president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation for 30 years and as a member of the International Olympic Committee for 48 years. He was also chairman of the Organizing Committee of the 1948 Olympics.
Amsterdam, August 1928: David BURGHLEY from Great Britain (on the left), 1st, in action in the 400m hurdles.
Amsterdam, August 1928: David BURGHLEY from Great Britain (on the left), 1st, in action in the 400m hurdles. Credit: IOC Olympic Museum Collections
Los Angeles, August 1932: medal ceremony for the 4x400m relay event: (L-R) the British team (David BURGHLEY, Thomas HAMPSON, Godfrey HAMPSON and Crew STONELEY), 2nd, the US team (Edgar ABLOWICH, William CARR, Ivan FUQUA and Karl FUQUA), 1st, and the Canadian team (James BALL, Philip EDWARDS, Raymond LEWIS and Alexander WILSON), 3rd. Credit: IOC Olympic Museum Collections
Helsinki 1952: the British IOC member Lord BURGHLEY (in the middle) with Charles MOORE (on the right), USA, 1st in the 400m hurdles, and John HOLLAND (on the left) from New Zealand, 3rd. Credit: IOC Olympic Museum Collections/Lothar Rübelt
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