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Roly Harper

Biographical information

TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameRoland St. George Tristram "Roly"•Harper
Used nameRoly•Harper
Born23 April 1907 in Merstham, Surrey, England (GBR)
Died24 April 1989 in Sevenoaks, Kent, England (GBR)
AffiliationsAchilles Club, (GBR)
NOC Great Britain


Roly Harper was educated at Charterhouse and Lincoln College, Oxford, where he won a Blue against Cambridge in both the high and low hurdles and in 1929 finished second in both events. He made his England début in the 1930 triangular match against Scotland and Ireland and finished second in the 120 y hurdles to Lord Burghley. Had David Burghley not been running in the same era, Harper would have won many more titles.

He did have the rare distinction of beating Burghley twice in one afternoon, during the Kinnaird Trophy meeting at Stamford Bridge in May 1932. Harper was a finalist in the 120y hurdles at the AAAs for four successive years (1930-33) and finished as runner-up in 1933, to the next of the great British low hurdlers, Don Finlay. He was also a finalist at the 1930 British Empire Games and a semi-finalist at the 1932 Olympics. At the 1934 British Empire Games he was eliminated in the preliminary rounds.

The director of physical education at Manchester University, he was a major force in the introduction and success of the AAA coaching scheme. In 1935 he accepted an invitation from the AAAs to become a hurdling instructor at their Loughborough summer school. A former treasurer of the Achilles Club, he was the president of the Northern Counties Athletic Association and was the first honorary secretary, and later chairman, of the AAA coaching committee. During World War II he obtained an emergency commission into the Royal Artillery.

Personal Best: 110H – 14.9 (1932).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1932 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Roly Harper
110 metres Hurdles, Men (Olympic) 5 h2 r2/3