20thOn this day in 1852 Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel about slavery, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” was published. Today in 1898 the first recorded international cross-country race took place at Ville d’Avray near Paris.  England beat the hosts over a nine-mile (14.5km) course. Scotland beat England at Twickenham for the first time in 1926, the score was 17-9. They went on to share that season’s championship with Ireland.  American Long-jumer Jerome Biffle, was born in Denver, Colorado in 1928. At school he won all-state honours in the 100yd and 220yd sprints, high jump and long jump before landing at the University of Denver where he was known as “the one-man track team”. In 1950, Biffle captured first-place finishes at the Kansas, Drake, and West Coast Relays, which were known as the “big three” of college track events during that period, as well as winning the NCAA long jump title. In that same year, he was named Track and Field News top collegiate track star. After DU, he earned a spot on the 1952 U.S. Olympic team and competed for the US in that years Games held in Helsinki, Finland winning long jump gold medal on his final attemptHe died in Denver in 2002 from pulmonary fibrosis. On the same day in 1937 England gained their revenge over Scotand by winning 6-2 at Murrayfield.  They went on to win their 11th Triple Crown. Yelena Romanova was born in 1963, Russian middle distance runner. She won the 3000m Olympic gold medal in 1992. She was found dead of unknown causes at age 43 in her flat in Volgograd. At the time of her death she was employed as athletics coach at a local sports school and also worked with members of the Russian athletic team. The top Russian goalkeeper Lev Yaschin died at the age of 60 in 1990. He won 78 Soviet caps between 1952 and 1972 He was known for his athleticism in goal, imposing stature and reflex saves.  He was also deputy chairman of the Football Federation of the Soviet Union. Yashin earned iconic status for revolutionizing the goalkeeping position by stamping his authority on the entire defence.  He shouted orders at his defenders, came off his line to intercept crosses and also ran out to meet onrushing attackers, done at a time when goalkeepers spent the 90 minutes standing in the goal waiting to be called into action. His performances made an indelible impression on a global audience at the 1958 World Cup, the first to be broadcast internationally. He dressed head to toe in black, thus earning his nickname the ‘Black Spider’, which enhanced his popularity. Yashin appeared in four World Cups from 1958 to 1970, and in 2002 was chosen on the FIFA Dream Team of the history of World Cups. In 1994 he was chosen for the FIFA World Cup All-Time Team, and in 1998 as a member of the World Team of the 20th Century. According to FIFA, Yashin saved over 150 penalty kicks in professional football – more than any other goalkeeper.  He also kept over 270 clean sheets in his career, winning a gold medal at the 1956 Olympic football tournament, and the 1960 European Championships. In 1963, Yashin received the Ballon d’Or, the only goalkeeper ever to receive the award. He was voted the best goalkeeper of the 20th century by the IFFHS. This day in 1992 was quite a busy one for sport – Aldershot FC, which had been declared bankrupt in the High Court on March 18th, played their last Football League game, losing 2-0 away at Cardiff. Their record of three wins and eight draws from 36 matches was deleted from the Football League records…on the same day that Aldershot were playing their last match, the former Wales and Arsenal goalkeeper Jack Kelsey died at the age of 62. John Oakes, the former Charlton Athletic player also died on this day, he was 86. While in the US on this day in 1992,Victor Kiam agreed to sell his 51% stake in the New England Patriots gridiron team for $50million and Tommy Hearns lost his world lighjt-heavyweight title on a  split decision to Iran Barkley at Las Vagas.   On this day in 2014 Bulgarian sumo wrestler Kotooshu announces his retirement today; he won the Emperor’s Cup in 2008 and achieved the second-highest rank of ozeki during his career.


21stToday in 1871 journalist Henry Morton Stanley begins his trek to find the missionary and explorer David Livingstone. On this day in 1874 a crowd of 3500 at the old Hampden Park ground saw Queen’s Park beat Clydesdale 2-0 in the first Scottish Fa Cup Final. Queen’s Park went on to win the cup in its first three seasons.  In 1908 Frenchman Henri Farman carries a passenger in a bi-plane for the first time. On this day in 1928  Charles Lindbergh is presented with the Medal of Honour for the first solo trans-Atlantic flight. Brian Clough, who started the 1992-3 season as the longest-serving manager in the football League, was born in 1935. As a player, Clough was a brilliant goal-scorer, netting 251 times in 274 League games, and was twice the Football League’s top scorer in the 1950s. Brazilian motor-racing driver Ayrton Senna was born in 1960. He made his F1 debut with Toleman in 1984. Four years later he won his first world title, with McLaren. He regained it in 1990 and successfully defended it the following year with eight race wins. Senna was the second man, after Alain Prost, to accumulate 500 world championship points in a career. He started 65 races from pole position, just three less than the record holder Michael Schumacher with 68 pole-sitting starts.  Ingrid Kristiansen was born in 1956. She was the first athlete to win world titles in all three running disciplines of track, road and cross country. She also held world records in three different distances in the 5,000m, 10,000m and the marathon events. As an elite nordic skier from Norway, she developed great fitness in that sport first, which helped her transition into becoming an international-level runner. Although she did not become an Olympic champion, she did win gold medals at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships, which were every bit as valuable with her 10,000m gold from Rome, Italy in 1987 and a bronze in the inaugural Sittard, Netherlands championships in 1980 in the 3,000m distance event. She may be best known for her prowess in the marathon, with her one-time world-best of 2:21:06 (1985) being a very competitive result today, 19 years later. She is also a three-time winner of the Stockholm Marathon, two-time winner in Houston and has won both the New York City Marathon and the B.A.A. Boston Marathon. At least 11 times she ran under the 2:30:00 benchmark. In the 10,000m distance, her former world record of 30:13.74 currently stands as the 15th fastest all-time. No runner has finished faster since 2009. Today, she continues to train and lead a healthy lifestyle running and nordic skiing in her native Norway.   Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar scored the first of his 34 Test cricket tons (116) at Georgetown against the West Indies on this day in 1971.  He held this record (34 Test centuries) for almost two decades before it was broken by Sachin Tendulkar in December 2005. He was the first person to score centuries in both innings of a Test match three times, but unlike Ricky Ponting and David Warner (who also achieved the feat three times) after him, none of his games yielded a win. He was the first Test batsman to score 10,000 Test Runs in a career. On this day in 1985 Arthur Ashe was nominated for the International Tennis Hall of Fame.  Comedy genius Ernie Wise died on this day, aged 73, in 1999. Born Ernie Wiseman, he forged his comedy partnership with Eric Bartholomew when he was 16, in the 1940s. But Wiseman and Bartholomew was too long for bright-lights and billboards and they renamed as Morecambe and Wise. For four decades, the duo whose Christmas specials became a national institution captured the public’s affection with a mix of self-deprecating charm and schoolboy humour. They were both awarded OBEs in 1976. Their theme tune was Bring Me Sunshine but the final curtain came with Morecambe’s death in Gloucestershire from heart failure in May 1984, aged 57. Ernie described it as the saddest day of his life. Wise’s own death came just days after that of 71-year-old Sid Green, co-writer of classic sketches for Morecambe and Wise. On this day in 2006 the social media website Twitter was launched with the first tweet by co-founder Jack Dorsey.


22nd An informal meeting 0f clubs interested in forming a Football League was held at Anderson’s Hotel, Fleet Street in 1888.  The first formal meeting took place in 17th April. The first rugby union international between England and France was played in Paris in 1906. England won 35-8.  The 1929 Grand National attracted a record field of 66 runners. The 100-1 winner was Gregalach, ridden by Bob Everett.  Scotland’s only world darts champion, Jocky Wilson, was born in 1950. He twice lifted the world crown, in 1982 when he beat John Lowe 5-3 and in 1989 when he defeated Eric Bristow 6-4.   Wilson won many other titles in his career including the British Professional Championship a record four times between 1981 and 1988, as well as the prestigious British Open and Matchplay titles. Wilson never formally announced his retirement from darts; he simply departed from the sport suddenly on 23 December 1995. It is believed that he left after being diagnosed with diabetes, which stopped him drinking during games. He was declared bankrupt in 1998, and then survived on a disability allowance, living as a recluse in a one-bedroom flat back on the council estate where he grew up.  He also suffered from arthritis in his hands. Wilson ceased giving interviews to the press and television. An Observer reporter tried to interview him in January 2007 on the 25th anniversary of his first title win, only to be told by his wife, “He never has (given an interview) since stopping and never will. He thinks it’s all in the past, it’s over with.” However, he did give an interview to The Scotsman in 2001. Despite Wilson’s withdrawal from the game, in August 2009 the PDC announced a new tournament called “The Jocky Wilson Cup” in which Scotland’s best players played England’s best. England beat Scotland 6-0 in the inaugural tournament in December 2009. A heavy smoker for forty years, in November 2009 it was announced that Wilson had been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Reports stated that he had smoked up to 50 cigarettes a day for most of his life. He died just after 9 p.m. on 24 March 2012 at his home in Kirkcaldy, at the age of 62. His funeral was held on 2 April at the crematorium in his home town. His great rival Eric Bristow and sports presenter Helen Chamberlain were among the estimated 400 mourners.  Today in 1980 President Jimmy Carter announced to the US Olympic Team that they would not participate in the 1981 Summer Games in Moscow as a boycott against Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.  On this day in 1989, one of the most gruesome looking sports injuries ever to happen occurred. In an NHL game between the St. Louis Blues and Buffalo Sabres, two players collided at the front of the net, and one player’s skate catches Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk on the neck, slicing open his jugular vein. Blood started pouring from his neck onto the ice–yet amazingly, Malarchuk left the ice under his own power with the assistance of the team’s trainer. Seven people in the stands fainted, two had heart attacks, and some of his own teammates threw up on the ice. “All I wanted to do was get off the ice,” says Malarchuk. “My mother was watching the game on TV, and I didn’t want her to see me die.” Fortunately for Malarchuk, the team’s trainer, Jim Pizzutelli, was a former Army medic who served in Vietnam. Pizzutelli reached into Malarchuk’s neck and pinched off the bleeding, not letting go until doctors arrived and started closing the wound. Malarchuck had been minutes from becoming the second on-ice fatality in NHL history. It was estimated that if the skate hit slightly higher on Malarchuk’s jugular, he would have been dead within two minutes. In the dressing room and on his way to the hospital, doctors spent 90 minutes and used over 300 stitches to close the wound. Amazingly enough, he came back from the injury, in the same season! While reports that he came back in just a few days may be overstated, he did come back that same season, and played in the NHL for several more seasons after the incident. And now all goalies in the NHL are required to wear some form of neck protection. British swimmer Mark Foster swam to a then world record 50m butterfly time of 23.68secs on this day in 1994. The French swimmer Alain Bernard set a world record of 47.50secs for the 100m freestyle, long course, in winning the European LC Championships today in 2008.  In the 2009 Women’s World Cup Cricket final England defeated New Zealand by 4 wickets at the North Sydney Oval.  Today in 2015 the remains of Richard III, King of England from 1483-1485, were escorted in a royal funeral procession; his remains were discovered in Leicester in 2012 and were later reburied at Leicester Cathedral.


23rdCricketer and footballer Arthur Grimsdell was born in Watford on this day 1894. He played at centre-half and later wing-half for Tottenham Hotspur and England and captained both teams during the 1920s.  Grimsdell started his career at St Albans City and Watford but transferred as a schoolboy player to Tottenham Hotspur, playing his first game at the age of 18 in 1912. His career was interrupted by the First World War. On his return in 1919 he captained Tottenham during the 1919-20 season and led them when they won the Second Division that year. In the following season he captained the side, which won the FA Cup in 1921. His successful club career continued until he broke his leg during the 1925 season. He did not return to play for the side until 1927 and he went on to play for Spurs until April 1929 when he was released by the club. He subsequently went to Clapton Orient where he took on a player-manager-secretary role. He made in total 418 appearances for Tottenham scoring 43 goals including 324 League appearances (26 goals) and 36 F.A Cup matches (1 goal). In recognition of his distinguished career and service to the club he was admitted to the Tottenham Hotspur Hall of Fame. Following the conclusion of the Second World War, Grimsdell served on Watford’s board of directors from 1945 until 1951. Grimsdell had a trial for the England team in 1913 but only started his international career after the war when he played for England 6 times between 1920 and 1923 as a left-half, captaining the team on three of these occasions. He was also an accomplished cricketer at both County and First class level, a right-handedbatsman and ‘occasional’ wicketkeeper who played for Hertfordshire CCC in the minor counties league. He played once for the East of England side against New Zealand at Wisbech, Cambridgeshire in July 1927, scoring 3 runs (1st innings) and 40 runs (2nd innings).  He was considered a sports personality of his era, featuring on footballer cigarette cards and interviewed for sports magazines. He died, aged 68 in Watford on 12 March 1963. On this day in 1922 Arthur G Hamilton set a new parachute record, safely jumping 24,400 feet.  In 1927 Captain Hawthorne Gray set a new balloon record soaring to a height of 28,510 feet. Sir Roger Bannister was born on this day in 1929.He is of course most famous for being the first person to run a mile in under 4 minutes. In the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki Bannister set a British record in the 1500m but finished fourth. This strengthened his resolve to be the first 4-minute miler. He achieved this feat on 6 May 1954 at Iffley Road track in Oxford, with Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher providing the pacing. When the announcer declared “The time was three…”, the cheers of the crowd drowned out Bannister’s exact time, which was 3min 59.4 sec. Bannister’s record lasted just 46 days. He had reached this record with minimal training, while practising as a junior doctor. Bannister went on to become a distinguished neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, before retiring in 1993. When asked whether the 4-minute mile was his proudest achievement, he said he felt prouder of his contribution to academic medicine through research into the responses of the nervous system. Bannister is patron of the MSA Trust. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011. Mike Hailwood, one of Britain’s best-loved motor-cycle champions, died on this day in 1981. He lost his life in a car accident hear his home in Birmingham while going to buy fish and chips. His daughter Michelle also died in the crash. Mo Farah, was born on this day in 1983 on the track, he mostly competes over 5000m and 10,000m, but has run competitively from 1500m to the marathon. The most successful British track athlete in modern Olympic Games history, he is the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medallist in both the 5000 m and 10,000m, and is the second athlete in modern Olympic Games history, after Lasse Virén, to successfully defend the 5000m and 10,000m titles. Farah also completed the ‘distance double’ at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships in Athletics. He was the second man in history after Kenenisa Bekele, to win long-distance doubles at successive Olympics and World Championships, and the first in history to defend both distance titles in both major global competitions – a feat described as the ‘quadruple-double’. Farah’s unbeaten streak in global distance finals runs to 9, having finished 2nd in the 10,000m at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics; as of 2017 he has won every global final at either distance since that date. American soprano singer Eileen Farrell died on this day, aged 82, in 2002, after a nearly 60-year-long career performing both classical and popular music in concerts, theatres, on radio and television, and on disc. While she was active as an opera singer, her concert engagements far outnumbered her theatrical appearances. Her career was mainly based in the United States, although she did perform internationally. The Daily Telegraph stated that she “was one of the finest American sopranos of the 20th century; she had a voice of magnificent proportions which she used with both acumen and artistry in a wide variety of roles.” And described as having a voice “like some unparalleled phenomenon of nature. She is to singers what Niagara is to waterfalls.” Farrell began her career in 1940 as a member of the CBS Chorus on CBS Radio. In 1941 CBS Radio offered her her own programme, Eileen Farrell Sings, on which she performed both classical and popular music for 5 years. In 1947 she launched her career as a concert soprano and nine years later began performing on the opera stage. The pinnacle of her opera career was five seasons performing at the Metropolitan Opera from 1960–1966. She continued to perform and record both classical and popular music throughout her career, and is credited for releasing the first successful crossover album: “I’ve Got a Right to Sing the Blues” (1960).  After announcing her retirement from performance in 1986, she still continued to perform and record music periodically up into the late 1990s. She was also active as a voice teacher, both privately and for nine years at Indiana University.


24th The 1877 running of the Cambridge and Oxford Boat Race ended in a dead heat for the first and only time. British athlete Albert Hill was born today in 1889, he competed at the 1920 Olympics and won gold in the 800m and 1500m and a silver in the 3000m team race. Hill started out as a long-distance runner, winning the British AAA championships over 4 miles in 1910. During World War I he served with the Royal Flying Corps in France, and after the war changed to middle-distance running, he won the 880yd and 1 mile at the 1919 AAA championships and then equalled the British record of 4:16.8 for 1 mile. He nearly wasn’t selected for the Olympics the following year, the selectors considering 31-year-old Hill too old. Finally, he was allowed to take part where he made the 800m final, which was a closely contested race. In the end Hill beat American Earl Eby for gold, setting a British record of 1:53.4 on a slow track. Two days later, Hill completed the middle distance double by winning the 1500m as well, thus completing a “double” not replicated by a British athlete until Kelly Holmes at the 2004 Olympics. Helped by his compatriot, Philip Baker (who would receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1959), he won comfortably, with Baker in second in a time of 4:01.8. Hill also competed in the 3000m team race event, in which the British team finished second, earning Hill’s third Olympic medal. Hill won the 1921 AAA mile championship in a British record of 4:13.8, this was 1.2 seconds outside the world record and the second fastest amateur time ever. Hill ended his running career in 1921 and became a coach himself, his most famous protégé being Sydney Wooderson. He emigrated to Canada shortly after World War II, and died there in 1969. In 2010, he was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame. On this day in 1962 two-time welterweight champion of the word Benny Paret was basically pummelled to death by challenger Emile Griffith at Madison Square Garden. It was in the 12 round that Paret came to his grim end when a pair of right hands rocked him and sent him into a corner. Griffith threw right uppercuts over and again until Paret’s head swayed between the ropes and he became trapped and took several more two-fisted punches before referee Ruby Goldstein could pry Griffith away. By then it was too late; Paret sagged to the canvas, all captured live on ABC’s ‘Friday Night Fights’ special. Paret, never woke up and died of pneumonia 10 days later on April 3, he was just 25 years old. In the 1972 Grand National only three of the 32 starters finished.  First over the line was 100-9 shot Music Hall ridden by Bilbie Rees.  The former Scotland, Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City goalkeeper Archie Gemmill was born in 1947.  He played for Scotland 43 times. In the 1978 World Cup finals he scored one of the finest goals in the history of the tournament, weaving his way through the Dutch defence before unleashing a swerving shot into the corner of the net.  Top American golfer Par Bradley was born in 1951. Twice LPGA Player of the Year, she has won all four of the ladies’ major tournaments; in 1986 only the US Open eluded her. On this day in 1984 the IOC agrees to a six team exhibition baseball tournament at the Olympics. Libby Clegg, Scottish Paralympic sprinter who has represented both Scotland and Great Britain at international events was born in 1990.  She represented Great Britain in the T12 100m and 200m at the 2008 Paralympics, winning silver in the T12 100m race. She has also won Gold in Rio at the 2016 Paralympic Games in 100m T11 where she broke the world record and T11 200m, beating the previous Paralympic record in the process, thus making her a double Paralympic champion Ian Woosnam won his first golf tournament in the United States, beating Jim Hallet at the second extra hole in the 1991 USF and G Classic at New Orleans.  Three weeks later he won his second – the Masters.  Punch ended 150 years of satire on this day in 1992.  Britain’s oldest satirical magazine closed after suffering crippling losses of £1.5m a year. The decision ended a publishing tradition dating back almost 151 years. However in early 1996, the Egyptian businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed bought the rights to the name, and Punch was re-launched later that year.  It was reported that the magazine was intended to be a spoiler aimed at Private Eye, which had published many items critical of Fayed. The magazine never became profitable in its new incarnation, and at the end of May 2002 it was announced that Punch would once more cease publication.  Press reports quoted a loss of £16 million over the six years of publication, with only 6,000 subscribers at the end. Whereas the earlier version of Punch prominently featured the clownish character Punchinello (Punch of Punch and Judy) performing antics on front covers, the resurrected Punch magazine did not use this character, but featured on its weekly covers a photograph of a boxing glove, thus informing its readers that the new magazine intended its name to mean “punch” in the sense of a punch in the eye. The Dutch professional football player and coach Johan Cruijff died today aged 68 in 2016.   As a player, he won the Ballon d’Or three times, in 1971, 1973, and 1974. Cruyff was the most famous exponent of the football philosophy known as Total Football explored by Rinus Michels, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in football history.  In the 1970s, Dutch football rose from near obscurity to become a powerhouse in the sport. Cruyff led the Netherlands to the final of the 1974 FIFA World Cup and received the Golden Ball as player of the tournament. At the 1974 finals he executed a feint that subsequently was named after him, the Cruyff Turn, a move widely replicated in the modern game


25thWales played their first international football match in 1876, losing 4-0 to Scotland in Glasgow. Five years and eight matches later they recorded their first win, beating England  1-0 at Blackburn. Visitors to Hampstead Heath in north London could have been forgiven for thinking they had somehow taken a wrong turn and ended up in Norway on this day in 1950. The unexpected sight of a nearly full-size ski jump, complete with real snow and skiers, on a sunny March day in southern England, was enough to make the most broad-minded of observers do a double-take. The snow, and most of the skiers, were indeed from Norway, but the ski jump was the creation of the Central Council of Physical Recreation, alongside the Ski Club of Great Britain and the Oslo Ski Association. The team of 25 Norwegian skiers brought the snow with them, 45 tons of it, packed in wooden boxes insulated by dry ice. The jump itself was supported by a tower of scaffolding 60ft (18.29m) high, giving skiers a 100ft (30.48m) run-up to the jumping point, 12ft (3.66m) above the ground. Modern ski jumps reach 200ft – 300ft (60m – 90m), but skiers on Hampstead Heath only had enough room to jump to about 90ft (27.43m). The London ski jumping competition, as it is known, held a trial contest the previous evening involving only Norwegian skiers. The event the crowd was waiting for, however, was this afternoon’s contest between Oxford and Cambridge University. Tens of thousands of people gathered in the sunshine to watch the University Challenge Cup. It was the first time ski jumping had been seen by most of the crowd. A broadcast commentary on the competition kept everyone informed of the quality of each jump. Spectators, however, seemed to be more interested in how deep each skier disappeared into the straw laid at the bottom of the run. In the end, the Oxford team, captained by C. Huitfeldt, won the competition, while the London challenge cup – open to all competitors – was won by Arne Hoel of Oslo. An official said of the event, “This exhibition has been such an unqualified success that we are very much hoping it will become one of the country’s major sporting features.”  The ski-jump competition was never held again, despite several attempts to revive it. The competition numbered among the last major events to use real snow to create ski conditions.  The first artificial snow was made two years later, in 1952, at  Grossinger’s resort in New York, USA. Two boys who would later become Britain’s best middle-distance runners competed in the 1972 British Schools Cross Country Championship, Intermediate division. Steve Ovett came home in second place while his great rival of the future, Sebastian Coe, finished down the list in 10th position. In 1980 the British Olympic Association (BOA) voted by a large majority to defy the government and send athletes to the Olympic Games in Moscow.   Fifteen sports voted to accept the invitation to participate in the Olympics in July. Only hockey opposed travelling to Moscow, while fencing, equestrian, swimming and yachting deferred the decision. The decision was a blow to the government which issued a statement claiming that Downing Street “seriously regrets” the BOA decision. Earlier in the week the government placed pressure on the BOA not to attend the games after the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan last year. Sir Denis Follows, the chairman, said the “rather heavy letter” received from Mrs Thatcher after a commons debate had been placed before the committee ahead of the meeting. He added while he was sympathetic to the government’s stance “we believe sport should be a bridge, and not a destroyer”. Earlier that week Michael Heseltine, secretary of state for the environment, outlined the government’s hope of taking sporting sanctions against the Soviet Union in a parliamentary written answer in the House of Commons. Mr Heseltine stressed there would be no government funding or attendance in support of the BOA’s presence in the games in Moscow. Monique Berlioux, the director of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said earlier the IOC might provide funds for teams attending the games against their government’s wishes. It came as National Olympic committees from the United States and 15 Western European countries, who met in Brussels during the week, rejected calls for a boycott of the Moscow Olympics. In the end many countries joined the US-led boycott of the 22nd Olympic Games in 1980 because of the Societ invasion of Afghanistan the previous December. Almost 6,000 competitors from 81 countries arrived to compete in 22 sports compared to the 10,000 athletes expected. The Soviet Union took home 197 medals, Britain, 21. The IOC condemned the boycott and said athletics should not be concerned with politics although sport had long been a tool in international affairs. Ironically, at the time South Africa was banned from participating because of its policy of discriminating against blacks In 1990 the Wales rugby union team rounded off their worst ever season in the International Championship with a 14-8 defeat by Ireland at Lansdowne Road. It was the first time they had lost all four games in a championship season.  Aldershot FC lost their fight for survival in 1992, folding with debts of £1.2million. British female track and field athlete Jean Pickering (nee Desforges) died on this day in 2013 aged 83.  She made her international debut at 18, competing in the 80m hurdles for GB v France in 1947 but missed the 1948 Olympics due to illness. In the 1950 European Championships she finished 5th in the 80m hurdles and was part of the gold medal winning 4×100m relay team, at  the 1952 Games in Helsinki she again finished 5th in the 80m hurdles and won bronze in the 4x100m. In 1953, Jean broke a British record and became the first British woman to long jump over 20 feet, when jumping 6.10 m in Nienburg, Germany. . She was European Champion in the long jump, in the 1954 European Championships in Berne, Switzerland, with a leap of 6.04m. At the same championships Jean finished 6th in the 80m hurdles. She remains the only British athlete to have won a European gold medal in both a track and a field event. In the 1954 Commonwealth Games she won a bronze medal in both the long jump and 80m hurdles. Jean was an eight-time British champion in athletics, having won the 80m hurdles four times (1949, 1952, 1953 and 1954), the long jump twice (1953 and 1954), and the pentathlon twice (1953 and 1954).  She ended her career with personal bests of 11.1secs for both the 100-yard dash and the 80m hurdles.  She also broke the British record for the pentathlon in her career, accumulating a total of 3997 points in 1953. She married Ron Pickering, a prominent athletics coach and television commentator in 1954 and the couple had two children, a daughter (Kim) and a son (Shaun Pickering) who went on to athletic success in his own right, following in his mother’s footsteps, going on to become an Olympian and Commonwealth Games medallist in the shot put.  Her husband’s death in 1991 led Jean to create the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund to help support athletics in Britain at a grass-roots level. By 2013, the Memorial Fund had given out £1.3 million in grants to young athletes, coaches and athletics groups. Such was the breadth of the fund’s support; around 75% of the British track and field team have been Ron Picking Memorial Fund grant recipients earlier in their career, among them Olympic champions Jessica Ennis, Christine Ohuruogu and Greg Rutherford. Jean was awarded an MBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List for her services to athletics and was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011.  Her passion for the sport remained until the end of her life – she suffered from bad health due to a heart condition in her last years but focused on being present for the Athletics at the 2012 London Olympics.  She vehemently supported the continued use of London’s Olympic Stadium for athletics after the Games, saying “If you pull that stadium down, who’s going to inspire the kids of today? What message does it send them?”


26thThe first steeplechase under National Hunt rules took place at Market Harborough, Leicestershire in 1863.  The winning horse, Socks, was ridden by Mr Goodman. One of the famous cricketing Edrich family, Bill, was born in 1916, he played for Middlesex, MCC, Norfolk and England. Edrich’s three brothers, Brian, Eric and Geoff, and also his cousin, John, all played first-class cricket. Locally in Norfolk the Edriches were able to raise a full team of eleven.  All told, Bill played in 571 first-class matches between 1934 and 1958, scoring 36,985 runs, with a highest score of 267 not out. He scored 2,440 runs for England in his 39 Test matches, with 219 not out at Durban, in the 1938/39 tour, being his best.  A professional before the Second World War, he turned amateur afterwards and captained Middlesex jointly with Compton in 1951 and 1952, continuing in sole charge from 1953 to 1957. After retiring from Middlesex, he returned to Norfolk and played Minor County cricket until he was 56, captaining the county until 1971. He was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1940.  Edrich played football as an amateur for Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur during the 1930s. A famously convivial man, Edrich was married five times and had two sons, Jasper and Justin. He died following a fall at home in 1986, aged 70. The MCC named the twin stands at the Nursery End at Lord’s Cricket Ground, in his and Denis Compton’s honour. Cricket writer, Colin Bateman, noted, “it is a dull, practical structure which does little justice to their mercurial talents and indomitable spirits”  In 1927 Ferdinando Minoaia and Giuseppe Morandi , driving an OM, won the inaugural Mille Miglia at an average speed of 77.22mph (124 km/hr). The race, from Brescia to Rome and back, was the most famous long-distance race of its time. A bad accident in the 1957 race forced changes which resulted in a smaller version of the event in subsequent years.  The Mille Miglia was responsible for popularising the Alfa Romeo, which won the race 11 times between 1928 and 1939. British photographer, noted for chronicling Paris in the 1950s, Harold Chapman was born today in 1927. He has produced a large body of work over many years, with his most significant period from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s, when he lived in a backstreet Left Bank guesthouse in Paris later nicknamed (by Verta Kali Smart) ‘the Beat Hotel’. There he chronicled in detail the life and times of his fellow residents – among them Allen Ginsberg and his lover Peter Orlovsky, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Sinclair Beiles, Brion Gysin, Harold Norse, and other great names of Beat Generation poetry and art. When the Beat Hotel closed its doors in 1964, Chapman was the last guest to leave. The collection of photographs he had taken there provide an artistic and historic record, and became the mainstay of his reputation. His other works attract worldwide attention, and include portraits, landscapes, bizarre objets trouvés and, especially, distinctive enigmatic street scenes (often involving incongruous background advertising) that combine his two characteristic emotions: pervasive moody anxiety and quirky wit. On this day in 1934 the driving test is introduced in the UK. On this day in 1937, American sprinter Barbara Jones (later Slater), was born. She was part of the 4×100m relay teams that won gold at the 1952 and 1960 Olympics and at the 1955 and 1959 Pan American Games. At the 1952 Olympics she became the youngest woman to win an Olympic gold medal in athletics, aged 15 years 123 days. She later became a member of the U.S. Paralympic Games Committee.   Tatyana Providokhina, Soviet 800m runner was born today in 1953. She competed for the USSR in the 1980 Olympics, where she won the 800m bronze. She also won gold in the 800m  at the 1978 European Championships.  In 1959 Mushtaq Mohammad, aged 15 years and 124 days, made his Test cricket debut for Pakistan against the West Indies at Lahore. The youngest man ever to play Test cricket at the time, he went onto become one of the world’s top batsmen. His record was broken in October 1996 by his 14 year-old (and 227 days) countryman Hasan Raza, playing against Zimbabwe at Faisalabad. In 1992 Mike Tyson received a six-year prison sentence for rape.  Today in 2005 the BBC broadcasts “Rose”, the first returning episode of Doctor Who, after its cancelation in 1989. It is now the world’s longest running science fiction drama. Shane McConkey, Canadian professional skier and BASE jumper died in 2009.  He started his professional skiing career in Boulder, Colorado where he attended the University of Colorado Boulder before dropping out.  McConkey started as a competitive ski racer, but moved on to be featured in a long line of extreme skiing movies. McConkey was known for combining BASE jumping with skiing, as seen in such feats as skiing into a BASE jump off the Eiger. McConkey went to Burke Mountain Academy. He was also known for his contributions to ski design, notably being the father of reverse sidecut and reverse camber skis (aka: skis with rocker); first mounting bindings onto water skis for use in Alaska, then with the Volant Spatula and, more recently, the K2 Pontoon ski design. McConkey’s high-speed chairlift and ski area at Park City Mountain Resort are named after his father, Jim McConkey, who was an early proponent of extreme skiing in the US.  On April 2, 2011 Shane McConkey was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of fame along with other Tahoe skiers, Daron Rahlves and Glen Plake. On March 26, 2009, Shane McConkey died while executing a ski-BASE jump in the Dolomite Mountains in Italy. One of his skis failed to release, sending him into a spin. After he corrected the problem, it was too late to deploy his parachute.