The Amateur Athletic Association of England or AAA (pronounced 'three As') is the oldest national governing body for athletics in the world, having been established on 24 April 1880. Historically it effectively oversaw athletics throughout Britain. Now it supports regional athletic clubs and works to develop amateur and youth category athletics in England alone. This includes the English Cross Country Association.
Three men from Oxford University were responsible for the founding of the Amateur Athletic Association - Clement Jackson, Montague Shearman and Bernhard Wise. The first AAA Championships were held on the 3 July 1880 at Lillie Bridge. Dame Marea Hartman was the first woman president of the AAA when she was appointed in 1991. The AAA of England was formed in 1991 following the merger of the previous AAA and the Women's Amateur Athletic Association (formed in 1922). The WAAA held the first WAAA Championships in 1923. It is now headquartered in Wincham in Cheshire West and Chester, towards the east of Northwich.
The AAA Championships (widely regarded as the de facto British national championships) were held annually from 3 July 1880 up to 2006 (with breaks for the two world wars). Trials events for the British teams for the Olympics, World Championships in Athletics, European Athletics Championships and Commonwealth Games were often included as part of the competitions. The AAA Indoor Championships served a similar role from its creation in 1935. The creation in 1999 of a new national governing body for athletics, UK Athletics, signalled the waning influence of the AAA and its championships, with the new body running its own British Athletics Championships and trials events indoors and outdoors from 2007 onwards.