Dave Hemery

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games • Other
Full nameDavid Peter "Dave"•Hemery
Used nameDave•Hemery
Born18 July 1944 in Cirencester, England (GBR)
Measurements187 cm / 72 kg
AffiliationsHillingdon AC, London (GBR) / Boston University Terriers, Boston (USA)
NOC Great Britain
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 1
Bronze 1
Total 3


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).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1968 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Dave Hemery
400 metres Hurdles, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
4 × 400 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) Great Britain 5
1972 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Dave Hemery
400 metres Hurdles, Men (Olympic) 3 Bronze
4 × 400 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) Great Britain 2 Silver

Other participations

Games Role NOC As
1968 Summer Olympics Flagbearer at the Closing Ceremony GBR Dave Hemery

Special Notes