12thOn this day in 1899, American dentist and Harvard graduate George F Grant became the first American to patent a golf tee. It was a peg with a rubber top and was pushed into the ground, very close in design to the modern tee but without a concave head.   He never marketed his invention and 25 years later another dentist patented a tee, marketed it with the help of the Maplewood Golf Club and therefore was credited the invention, that tee was called the Reddy Tee. American Boxer Henry Armstrong, known as ‘Homicide Hank’ or ‘Perpetual Motion’, was born in 1912 (note the date – 12:12:12) He won the world feather-, light-, and welterweight titles and is the only man to hold three world titles simultaneously, albeit only for a month, in 1938. Born today in 1936 was Romanian high-jumper Iolanda Balaș. An Olympic champion and former world record holder she was the first Romanian woman to win an Olympic gold medal and is considered to have been one of the greatest high jumpers of the twentieth century. After finishing fifth in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, she won Olympic gold medals at Rome in 1960 and Tokyo in 1964. At the 1964 Olympics she competed with a torn tendon, which forced her later to withdraw from the 1966 European Championships. Nevertheless, between 1957 and 1966, Balaș won 154 consecutive competitions. She improved the world record 14 times, from 1.75m to 1.91m, and equalled it once outdoors and once indoors. She was the first woman to jump over six feet. Her technique was a sophisticated version of the scissors technique. Her record of 1.9 m, set in 1961, lasted until the end of 1971 (beaten by Ilona Gusenbauer from Austria), when jumpers with a more efficient technique, such as the straddle and later the Fosbury flop, became more dominant. After retiring from competition she was president of the Romanian Athletics Federation between 1988 and 2005 and a member of the technical committee of the European Athletics Association, and in 1995 was elected to the women’s commission of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). She died in March 2016 aged 79. Brazilian motor-racing driver Emerson Fittipaldi was born in 1946. He was the youngest-ever world champion when he first took the title in 1972, at 25 years and 10 months. He won the title for a second time in 1974. He quit racing in 1980 but made a comeback on the Indy car circuit in the USA. In 1989 he became the first non-North American to win the Indianapolis 500 since Graham Hill in 1966. Coincidentally on Fittipaldi’s 13th birthday, in 1959, Bruce McLaren of New Zealand took the chequered flag in the US Grand Prix at Sebring to become the then youngest winner of a Grand Prix, at age of 22 days and 104 days. McLaren was killed in an accident in 1970. American tennis player Tracey Austin was born in 1962. She took the professional circuit by storm reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 1979 at the age of 16 after beating Billie-Jean King in straight sets in the quarter-finals. She was three months short of her 17th birthday when she became the youngest US Open champion in 1979. She won the title again two years later, but these were her only two Grand Slam titles. Back and neck injuries forced her to quit in 1983, but she made a very short comeback in 1993. In 1992, Austin became the youngest person to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, at the age of 29. Since retiring she has made a name for herself on the commentary circuit working for many TV and radio stations. On this day in 1986 James ‘Bone Crusher’ Smith took the WBA championship by a TKO over Tim Witherspoon at Madison Square Gardens.


13thBoxer Archie Moore was born on this day but whether it was 1913 or 1916 remains a mystery – even he didn’t know. The world light-heavyweight champion between 1952 and 1961, he knocked out 145 of his 234 opponents, a record in professional boxing. George Vincent Rhoden, Jamaican athlete, was born on this day in 1926. He competed in the 1948 Olympics but was eliminated in the heats of the 100m and semi-finals of the 400m He was also a member of the heavily favoured Jamaican 4 × 400 m relay team, but when Wint pulled a muscle in the final, their chances at a medal were gone. On 22 August 1950 at Eskilstuna, Sweden, Rhoden set a new world record in 400 m of 45.8. At the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki he was more successful. He was one of the pre-race favourites in the 400m as a world record holder. He won a close battle with his compatriot McKenley, who had also been second in the 1948 Olympic 400m. As the anchor runner of the Jamaican relay team, Rhoden added a second Olympic gold, edging the United States by a tenth of a second, and setting a new world record (3:03.9). In 1942 Stephan Stanis scored 16 goals, a then world record in a senior professional soccer match, for Racing Club Lens against Aubry-Asturies in the French Cup. Former jump jockey John Francombe was born in 1952. Champion jockey seven times he equaled Stan Mellor’s record of riding 1000 National Hunt winners in a career. After retiring he emulated Dick Francis and wrote racing thrillers but not with the same success. Francombe has been an enthusiastic collector of Action Man figures ever since they hit the market in 1966. John still collects to this day and has amassed a collection of well over 100 figures!            In 1989 Bobby Robson, wearing an England shirt, scored the fastest goal in a professional football match at Wembley, taking just 38 seconds from kick-off to the back of the net. England won the game, against Yugoslavia, 2-1 to record their 100th win at Wembley. Today in 1960 Italy beat the USA in the Davis Cup which meant that the USA would, for the first time in 24 years, not be in the finals of the competition. Good pub-quiz fact next – in 1972 the last man to set foot on the moon climbed into his lunar lander and prepared to lift off, that man was Astronaunt Gene Ceman. Born on this day in 1983, Otylia Jędrzejczak, the 2004 Olympic 200m Butterfly champion, as well as winning the silver in both the 100m and 400m‘fly. On 4 August 2002 she established a new world record for 200m‘fly with a time of 2:05.78 during the European Championships in Berlin. On her 24th birthday in 2007, she broke the world record for the 200m‘fly with a time of 2:03.53. After her gold medal winning match in Athens she revealed, that during the pre-Olympic trials she had declared that if she won a gold medal in the Olympics, she would auction it off and hand the proceeds to a charity helping children suffering from leukemia. The results of the internet auction were announced on 19 December 2004 with Victoria Cymes, a Polish food company, turning out to be the highest bidder with 257,550 zlotys (about £66,000). The money was handed over to the Oncology and Haematology Clinic of Wrocław‘s Children’s Hospital. On this day in 2013 the Swiss organist, ethnomusicologist and music producer Marcel Cellier passed away aged 88. Internationally known for his Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares project presenting Bulgarian traditional music. He was the founder of the “Disques Cellier” recording label and extensively researched Romanian folk music in the 1960s, which led to his discovery of Gheorghe Zamfir. He was presented with “Grand prix audiovisuel de l’Europe” from the “Academie du disque français” in Paris in 1984. For 25 years he hosted a weekly radio show Westschweizer Radio, which he called “From the Black Sea to the Baltic”.


14thOn this day in 1782 The Montgolfier brothers first balloon lifts off on its first test flight. Earlier in the year the brothers had experimented with an envelope and then with a small box-like chamber constructed from thin wood, when a fire was lit under them they floated into the air. Encouraged by this they scaled up their efforts, however the lifting force was so great that they lost control over their ‘balloon’ on its very first flight. The balloon however floated for some 1.5 miles before it crashed landed on the village of Gonesse, where distressed inhabitants, thinking it was the skin of some monstrous animal, attacked it with pitchforks and stones, completely destroying it. Coincidentally on the same day but in 1903 The Wright Brothers made their first attempt to fly with the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina, the first heavier-than-air powered aircraft. The airplane duly left the ground, but Wilbur Wright pulled up too sharply, stalled, and came down in about three seconds with minor damage. Repairs after the abortive first flight took three days, when they were ready again on December 17, this time the wind helped provide the necessary airspeed for take-off and Orville Wright took his turn at the controls. His first flight lasted 12 seconds for a total distance of 120 ft (36.5 m) – shorter than the wingspan of a Boeing 747. Henri Cochet, one of the famous ‘Four Musketeers’ of French tennis (the others were Jean Borotra, Rene Lacoste and Jacques Brugnon) who dominated the Davis Cup competition in the late 1920s and early 1930s, was born in 1901. Cochet won four French, two Wimbledon and an Australian title between 1926 and 1932, and eight doubles titles. He was a member of six Davis Cup winning teams. Arsenal centre-forward Ted Drake scored all seven goals in the team’s 7-1 win over Aston Villa at Villa Park in 1935. He was the first player since Jimmy Ross of Preston in 1888 to score seven goals in a first-division match, a club record and top flight record that still stands.  On this day in 1901 the first table tennis tournament took place at the London Royal Aquarium. Some format of Ping Pong or Table Tennis has existed since the 1880s. Originally played among the English upper classes as an after-dinner parlour game, and commonly known as Whiff Whaff, the game was played with books used for bats knocking golf balls across the table. Later the game was played with cigar box lid paddles and balls made from champagne corks. American tennis player Stan Smith was born in 1946. Viv Richards scored his 1st Test Cricket ton – 192 versus India (20 fours and 6 sixes) on this day in 1974.   Born on this day in 1977 was rugby league player Jamie Peacock, an English professional rugby league footballer who played for Leeds Rhinos and Bradford Bulls in the Super League and captained both Great Britain and England at international level. After retiring at the end of the 2015 season he became football manager at Hull Kingston Rovers but resumed his playing career towards the end of the 2016 season. His position of choice was prop, although he played much of his early career as a second-row. He is one of the most successful players in Super League history, having won a total of nine Super League championships, four Challenge Cup winners medals, been named to the Super League Dream Team on eleven occasions and won the Man of Steel award in 2003. In 2012, the ‘World Soccer’ Player of the Year award to given to Lionel Messi.


15thBorn today in 1894 was the Swiss sprinter Josef Imbach. At the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp he represented his country at the 100m and 200m as well as the 4x100m relay, but failed to qualify for the final in any of these events. Four years later in Paris Imbach competed in the 400m winning his heat in 51.8 and then the quarter-final in 48.0, an Olympic record and unofficial world record. In the semi-final he was second to the eventual gold medallist Eric Liddell in 48.8. In that final he went out hard but tripped on the ropes that were used at the time to separate the lanes, he fell and failed to finish. Bad luck seemed to haunt Imbach at these Games as the Swiss relay team, of which he was a member, were disqualified in the final of the 4x100m. The first Test match played in India got underway on this day in 1933. Their opponents, England, captained by Douglas Jardine, won the match by nine wickets and went on to win the series. Remarkably, England did not win another series in India until 1976-77 tour, led by Tony Greig. The former Scottish international striker Joe Jordan was born in 1951. He started his career at Morton but was snapped up by Leeds United after only 10 League games. He later played for Manchester United and Italian clubs AC Milan and Verona before returning to Britain, where he eventually managed Bristol City before returning to Scotland to take over at Hearts until getting the sack in 1993. Frankie Dettori, Italian horse racing jockey was born on this day in 1970. Dettori has been Champion Jockey on three occasions and has ridden the winners of more than 500 Group races His most celebrated achievement was riding all seven winners on British Champions’ Day at Ascot in 1996.  He is the son of the jockey Gianfranco Dettori, who was a prolific winner in Italy. He has been described by Lester Piggott as the best jockey currently riding. Since the end of 2012, Dettori has been operating as a freelance, having split with Godolphin Racing, for whom he was stable jockey and had most of his big race victories.  On 5 December 2012, he was suspended from riding for six months after being found guilty of taking a prohibited substance, believed to be crack.  During this absence, he took part in the 11th series of the UK reality TV show Celebrity Big Brother finishing seventh on Day 21. On 11 December 2015 he was named ‘World’s Best Jockey 2015’, he topped the ranking with 100 points after five wins, four second-placings and four thirds. England beat Luxembourg 9-0 in a European Football Championship qualifier, at the time it was a record score in the competition. England manager Bobby Robson had played for England in World cup qualifier 22 years earlier when they best Luxembourg by the same score. On this day in 1994 the former 800m Commonwealth gold-medallist, Diane Modahl, was found guilty of taking a performance enhancing drug and consequently banned from competing for four years. The five-strong British Athletic Federation (BAF) panel in London delivered the verdict after a two-day disciplinary hearing and upheld a positive drugs test made after a race in Portugal on 18 June. The panel dismissed claims that the high level of testosterone in her urine – 42 times greater than normal – was caused by mishandling in the Portuguese laboratory. The decision made Modahl the first British woman to have tested positive in a drugs test. Modahl was cleared of drug taking a year later after an independent appeals panel accepted evidence that bacterial activity could have increased her testosterone levels while the sample was not refrigerated. However she was not cleared to compete internationally until March 1996 when the IAAF also accepted the report. That year she won the 800m bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur. Modahl took the BAF to court claiming almost £1m in damages, legal and medical costs but lost at the High Court in 2000 and the Court of Appeal in 2001. On this day in 1992 Arthur Ashe was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. Today in 2001 The Leaning Tower of Pisa was reopened after an 11-year $57m project to fortify it without eliminating its famous lean.


16thOne of England’s finest cricketers, Sir Jack Hobbs, was born in 1882. In a first-class career lasting from 1905 to 1934 Hobbs scored a record 61,237 runs at an average of 50.65, most were for his county, Surrey. He also scored a world record 197 centuries. In 1926 he complied an innings of 316 not out against Middlesex at Lord’s, his highest score in an innings and a record on the ground for almost 75 years; in 1990 Graham Gooch surpassed it with 333 against India. In 61 Test appearances Hobbs scored 5410 runs. He was almost 48 years old when he played his last Test. Knighted in 1953, he died five days after his 81st birthday in 1963. The English athlete Harold Whitlock was born on this day in 1903. He competed mainly in the 50km walk, winning his first title in 1933. Two years later he set a new world record for a 30 mile walk (4:29:31.8) and in the same year he also became the first recorded man to walk between London and Brighton in under 8 hours. His main achievement came in the 1936 Berlin Olympics where he won the gold medal in the 50km walk in a time of 4:30:41.4, despite suffering with sickness about 38km into the race. During these Olympics all gold medallists were presented with an Oak sapling by Adolf Hilter, Whitlock presented his sapling to his former school, Hendon in North London, where it remained until 2007 where it sadly had to be removed due to a dangerous amount of rot. He continued to represent GB at an international level until 1952 where he came 11th at the Helsinki Games behind his younger brother Rex who was 4th.   After this, Whitlock continued as a coach and judge. Notably, he coached Don Thompson, who won gold in the 50km walk at the 1960 Olympics, the only male British gold medallist of the Games, Whitlock himself served as an official at those same Olympics. He died on 27 December 1985 at the age of 82. In 2011, he was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame. On this day in 1940 Joe Louis knocks out Al McCoy in 6 for the heavyweight boxing title in Chicago. Donovan Bailey, Jamaican-born Canadian retired sprinter was born today in 1967. He once held the world record for the 100m following his gold medal performance in the 1996 Olympic Games. He was the first Canadian to legally break the 10-second barrier for the 100m. Particularly noted for his top speed, Bailey ran 27.07 mph (12.10 m/s) in his 1996 Olympic title run, the fastest ever recorded at the time. In 2005, Donovan Bailey was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame. After beating fellow American Brad Gilbert in the final of the Compaq Grand Slam Cup in Munich in 1990, Pete Sampras gave $200,000 of the $2million in prize-money to charity. Canadian professionnal wrestler Don Jardine passed away today in 2006. Best known for his masked gimmick as “The Spoiler“, and a major star in various wrestling promotions, Jardine saw his greatest successes in the National Wrestling Alliance affiliated territories of Championship Wrestling from Florida, Georgia Championship Wrestling an Big Time Wrestling, which would eventually become known as World Class Championship Wrestling, from the early 1960s through the mid 1980


17th This first issue of the magazine Vogue is published today in 1892. Playing for Victoria against Queensland at Melbourne in 1927, Bill Ponsford scored 437 runs to beat his own world record of 429 set nearly five years earlier. The Danish athlete Charles Winckler passed away today in 1932, he was born in 1867. He competed in the 1900 Olympic Games in the Shot Putt in which he was 10th and the Discus in which he was placed eight. He was also part of the Danish-Swedish Tug-of-War team which the Gold medal against France. He was the Danish national Discus record holder for 10 years until 1907, with a distance of 32.14, as well as national shot putt record holder between 1896 and 1903. Ray Wilson, a member of the England team that won the World Cup in 1966, was born today in 1934. A full-back, he was responsible for West Germany’s opening goal in the final, although that didn’t much matter in the end! After hanging up his boots in 1971 Ray became an undertaker until he retired in 1997, now at 81years old he sadly suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Australian media magnate Kerry Packer was born in 1937. He turned the world of cricket upside down in 1977 by announcing plans to launch a World Cricket series. Ian Chappell of Australia and Tony Grieg of England were signed up to lead the teams which would compose of the world’s best players. Alarmed by the prospect of losing leading players from the Test arena, the authorities threatened to ban from Test cricket all those who joined Parker’s circus. Though some players who took part never found favour with the selectors again the circus folded fairly quickly. New Zealand middle-distance runner Peter Snell was born in 1938. He won the 800m at the 1960 Rome Olympics. Four years later, in Tokyo, he retained his title and also won the 1500m to become the first post-war athlete to both events at the same Games.   He broke the world mile record held by Herb Elliott in 1962, with a time of 3mins 54.4secs, and bettered this two years later. Paula Radcliffe, long-distance runner and world marathon record holder, was born on this day in 1973. The IAAF recognizes two world records for women, a “Mixed Gender” record currently 2:15:25, set by Paula in April 13, 2003 at the London Marathon, and a “Women Only” record, also held by Radcliffe – 2:17:42 – set on April 17, 2005 in the London Marathon. She is a three-time winner of the London Marathon (2002, 2003, 2005), three-time New York Marathon champion (2004, 2007, 2008), and won the 2002 Chicago Marathon. Radcliffe is a former world champion in the marathon, half marathon and cross country. She has also been European champion over 10,000m and in cross country. On the track, Radcliffe won the 10,000m silver medal at the 1999 World Championships and was the 2002 Commonwealth champion at 5000m. She represented Great Britain at the Olympics four times consecutively (1996 to 2008), although she did not win a podium position in these events. Her running has earned her a number of accolades including the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Laureus World Comeback of the Year, IAAF World Athlete of the Year, AIMS World Athlete of the Year (three times) and a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). She has also been nominated for World Sportswoman of the year on several occasions. In 2010, she was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame. She ended her competitive running career at the 2015 London Marathon. On this day in 2013 Australia won the 3rd Test to win the 2013/14 Ashes Test series. Jose Mourinho was sacked as the manager of Chelsea Football Club today in 2015.


18th – Championships belts, now very much part of world boxing, were introduced in 1810 when Tom Cribb, the popular champion bareknuckle boxer, was presented with one after beating Tom Molineaux at Copthall Common, England. The belt was presented by King George III, a keen fan of pugilism. Matt McGrath, member of the Irish American Athletic Club, the New York Athletic Club, and the New York City Police Department was born on this day in 1875. At the time of his death at age 65, he attained the rank of Inspector, and during his career received the NYPD’s Medal of Valour twice. He competed for the U.S. team in the Olympics in 1908, 1912, 1920 and 1924 (at age 47). He won Gold in 1912 and silver in both 1908 and 1924. An off day at the 1928 Final Olympic trials just kept him off the 1928 Olympic team. There was a public outcry over McGrath’s omission and although he went to Amsterdam after a subscription fund had been raised to pay for his transportation, he was, not surprisingly, not allowed to compete. In his prime, he was known as “one of the world’s greatest weight throwers”, he remained in the world’s top ten up to the age of 50, making his career one of the longest and most consistent in the history of the sport. Born on this day in 1910 was Eric Tindill, New Zealand sportsman. Tindill held a number of unique records: he was the oldest ever Test cricketer at the time of his death in 2010 , the only person to play Tests for New Zealand in both cricket and rugby union (a so-called “double All Black”), and the only person ever to play Tests in both sports, referee a rugby union Test, and umpire a cricket Test: a unique “double-double” While Tindill is the only person to have played Tests in both cricket and rugby union for New Zealand, six other players have represented New Zealand in both rugby union and cricket. Tindill became the oldest living Test cricketer on 16 February 2004, on the death of Don Cleverley. On 8 November 2009, he surpassed Francis MacKinnon, who played one Test for England in 1879 and lived to 98 years and 324 days, as the oldest Test cricketer in history.  His Test longevity record was surpassed on 23 March 2011 by Norman Gordon. He became the oldest living All Black on 8 October 2001, on the death of Raymond Williams and was the last surviving All Black who played a Test before World War II. The oldest ever Test rugby player remains Scotland’s Mac Henderson, who died on 5 March 2009 aged 101 years and 309 days. After Tindill’s death, the oldest living Test cricketer became former South African fast bowler Norman Gordon, and the oldest living All Black was Maurice McHugh. In 1961, for the 2nd consecutive year the Associated Press named Wilma Rudolph as female athlete of the year. At the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field during a single Olympic Games. Top American amateur golfer Bobby Jones died on 1971 after a long illness. On the same day in 1971, Stan Mellor became the first National Hunt jockey to ride 1000 winners when Ouze crossed the finishing line first at Nottingham.   In 1988, Australia defeated England by 8 wickets to win the Women’s World Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.