30thBorn on this day 1864 in Tipperary, Ireland was James Michel, and, as an athlete, represented the United States at the 1904 Olympics. Mitchell competed as a member of the New York Athletic Club at the games, which were held in St Louis, Missouri. In the 56 lb weight throw he won the bronze medal. In the hammer he finished fifth and in the discus throw he finished sixth. He belonged to a group of Irish-American athletes called The Irish Whales or “The Whales”, they were a group who dominated weight-throwing events in the first two decades of the 20th century. This group dominated the field events, particularly throwing events, at the Amateur Athletic Union national championships and at the Olympic Games between 1896 and 1924. They were primarily members of the Irish American Athletic Club, and the New York Athletic Club and also members of the New York City Police Department. They were known as such because of their athletic prowess, physical size, voracious appetites, and their impact on a generation of sports fans. Today in 1911 Welshman Jim Driscoll, nicknamed ‘peerless Jim’, became the first man to win a Lonsdale Belt outright when he stopped ‘Spike’ Robson in the 11th round of their British flyweight title fight in London.   Former chess supremo Boris Spassky was born in 1938. He succeeded Tigran Petrosian as world champion in 1969, but lost his title to the American Bobby Fischer in a much publicized match at Reykjavik, Iceland in 1972. The rematch in 1992 again attracted a lot of publicity. On this day in 1948 the 5th Winter Olympic Games opened in St Moritz in Switzerland. The American golfer Curtis Strange, the top US money-winner in 1985, 1987 and 1988, was born in 1955. A professional since 1976, he earned himself a place in the record books in 1989 when he became the first man since Bob Hogan, in 1951, to win the US Open in consecutive years. Another golfer, Payne Stewart, easily identified on the course by virtue of his plus ‘twos’, bright clothing and the logos he wore for the NFL with who he enjoyed a unique sponsorship contract. Born in 1957, Stewart turned professional in 1979. His consistency throughout the 1980s was rewarded in 1989 by victory in the PGA championship, his first major, after coming close so many times. Two years later he won the US Open. Today in 1994 Kapil Dev equalled Richard Hadlee’s world record of 421 Test wickets. Ingemar Johansson, Swedish Boxer died today in 2009 aged 76.  He competed from 1952 to 1963 and held the world heavyweight title from 1959 to 1960, and was the fifth heavyweight champion born outside the United States. Johansson won the title after defeating Floyd Patterson by third-round stoppage, after flooring him seven times in that round. For this achievement, Johansson was awarded the Hickok Belt as top professional athlete of the year—the only non-American to do so in the belt’s entire 27-year existence—and was named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year and Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. Johansson also held the European heavyweight title twice, from 1956 to 1958, and in 1962. As an amateur he won a silver medal in the heavyweight division at the 1952 Olympics. In 2003 he was ranked at No. 99 on The Ring magazine’s list of the 100 greatest punchers of all time.


31st Athlete Chris Chataway was born in 1931. He was in the field when Roger Bannister became the first man to run a mile in under four minutes on 6th May 1954 at Oxford University’s Iffley Road track. He finished in second place in the 5000 m at the European Athletics Championship of 1954, 12.2 seconds behind the winner Vladimir Kuts, but two weeks later turned the tables at a London v. Moscow athletics competition at White City, setting a world record time of 13:51.6 seconds. The contest was televised via the Eurovision network and made Chataway a sporting celebrity; that December he won the first BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. After competing in the 1956 Olympics, Chataway retired from international athletics, though he continued to race for Thames Hare and Hounds. Soon after leaving Oxford with a degree in politics, philosophy and economics, he decided to aim for a political career. He thought a suitable job in the rapidly expanding world of television might help. He refused offers in sports TV and with panel and quiz shows but secured a job in August 1955 with ITN. He and Robin Day were its first two newscasters. After six months, when loss-making ITV cut back on its news output, Chataway switched to the BBC and was for three and a half years one of Panorama‘s highly regarded team of reporters with a different assignment each week sometimes at home but usually abroad. By this time he was also considering another career, this time in politics. He had been narrowly elected as a Conservative to the London County Council in 1958 in Lewisham North, and was then selected to stand for Parliament in the same seat. Lewisham North was a highly marginal seat won by Labour in a by-election in 1957, but Chataway’s charm helped to win the seat with a majority bigger than it had been in the previous general election. His maiden speech expressed the hope that the England cricket team would refuse to play a tour in apartheid South Africa, a highly unusual opinion for a Conservative. In Parliament, Chataway took up the issue of refugees, especially in Africa, and campaigned so hard during World Refugee Year that he was awarded a Nansen Medal. He served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary before being appointed as a junior Education Minister in July 1962. In the 1964 election, his majority was slashed to 343 and the seat looked distinctly vulnerable; in 1966 he lost. In 1991 Chataway was appointed chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority – a job he relished not least because his father had been one of the early aviators. He supported his friend Chris Brasher when he established the London Marathon, and was President of the Commonwealth Games Council for England from 1990 to 2009. He was knighted in 1995 for services to aviation. On this day in 1941 Joe Louis knocked-out Red Burman in the 5th round to win the world heavyweight boxing title. Shirley Babashoff, American swimmer was born today in 1957, Olympic champion, and former world record-holder in multiple events. Babashoff set six world records and earned a total of eight individual Olympic medals in her career. She won a gold medal in the 400m freestyle relay in both the 1972 and 1976 Olympics, and she won the 1975 world championship in both the 200m and 400m freestyle. During her career, she set 37 national records (17 individual and 20 relay) and for some time held all national freestyle records from the 100-meter to 800-meter event. The winner of the Women’s Australian Championships now called the Australian Open in 1966 was Margaret Court, who beat Nancy Richey, while Roy Emerson took the men’s title, beating Arthur Ashe in 4 sets.


1st Feb – Born on this day in 1878 Alfréd Hajós, Hungarian swimmer and architect, the first modern Olympic swimming champion and the first Olympic champion of Hungary. Hajós was born in Budapest, Hungary, as Arnold Guttmann. He was 13 years old when he felt compelled to become a good swimmer after his father drowned in the Danube River. He took the name Hajós (sailor in Hungarian) for his athletic career because it was a Hungarian name. In 1896, Hajós was an architecture student in Hungary when the Athens Games took place. He was allowed to compete, but permission from the university to miss class was difficult to obtain. When he returned to the Polytechnical University, the dean did not congratulate Hajós on his Olympic success, but instead said: “Your medals are of no interest to me, but I am eager to hear your replies in your next examination.” At the 1896 Games, the swimming events were held in the Mediterranean Sea battling the elements. The 18-year-old Hajós won his two golds in extremely cold weather (the water temperature was about 13 degrees Celsius) with 12ft waves crashing down on him. He won the 100m freestyle with a time of 1:22.2, and the 1200m freestyle in 18:22.1. Hajós wanted to win all three distances, but the 500m freestyle was immediately after the 100 and immediately before the 1200. For the 1200m race, he smeared his body with a half-inch thick layer of grease, but it proved to be of little protection against the cold. He confessed after winning the race that, “My will to live completely overcame my desire to win.” While at a dinner honouring Olympic winners, the Crown Prince of Greece asked Hajós where he had learned to swim so well. Hajós replied, “In the water.” The next morning, the Athenian journal Acropolis depicted Alfréd with the subtitle: “Hungarian Dolphin”. He was the youngest winner in Athens. Prior to the Athens Olympics, Hajós was the 100m freestyle European swimming champion in 1895 and 1896. A versatile athlete, he won Hungary’s 100m sprint championship in 1898, as well as the National 400m hurdles and discus titles. He also played forward on Hungary’s national football teams of 1901, 1902, 1903 and played in the first international match played by the Hungarian national team, against Austria in Vienna on 12 October 1902.  Between 1897 and 1904 he was also a football referee, and during 1906 he was the coach of Hungary’s national football team. In 1924, Hajós, an architect specializing in sport facilities, entered the art competitions at the Paris Olympic Games. His plan for a stadium, devised together with Dezső Lauber (who played tennis in the 1908 Olympics), was awarded the silver medal; the jury did not award a gold medal in the competition. Thus making him one of only two Olympians ever to have won medals in both sport and art Olympic competitions. (the other being American Walter W. Winans, marksman and sculptor) The best known sports facility designed by Hajós is the swimming stadium built on Margitsziget (Margaret Island) in the Danube in Budapest, which was built in 1930, and used for the 1958, 2006 and 2010 European Aquatics Championships, and the 2006 FINA Men’s Water Polo World Cup. In 1953, the International Olympic Committee awarded him the Olympic diploma of merit. He is a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and in 1981 he was also made a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. His brother, Henrik Hajós, won gold medal in 4x250m Freestyle swimming at 1906 Olympic Games in Athens. Sir Stanley Matthews, the first footballer to be knighted, was born on this day in 1915. He started his career with Stoke City and then moved to Blackpool where, in 1953, he won the FA Cup winners’ medal that seemed to be eluding him; he was 38 at the time. Matthews returned to Stoke in 1961 and on 6th February 1965, at the age of 50 years and 6 days, he played his last games, against Fulham. He is the oldest man to appear in the first division of the football league. He made 701 League appearances and played for England 54 times.  Often regarded as one of the greatest players of the British game, he is the only player to have been knighted while still playing football, as well as being the first winner of both the European Footballer of the Year and the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year awards. Today in 1930 Joe Bambrick created a British record when he scored six goals for Northern Ireland in their 7-0 win over Wales at Belfast. In 1958 The ‘Busby Babes’ played their last game on British soil, winning 5-4 at Highbury in a thrilling game. A crowd of over 63,000 saw Tommy Taylor (2), Bobby Charlton, Duncan Edwards and Dennis Viollet score for United. Five days later the heart of the team was ripped out in the Munich Air Disaster. On this day in 1968 Vince Lombardi resigns as the coach of Green Bay Packers. In 1979 Brian Clough, the Nottingham Forest manager, paid Birmingham City £1million for Trevor Francis, the first British player to be the subject of a seven-figure transfer fee. Today in 2015 sees France winning the World Handball Championships by beating Qatar.


2nd The longest boxing match under modern rules took place in Nameoki, Illinois today in 1892, between Harry Sharpe and Frank Crosby over 77 rounds. The last bare-knuckle boxing-champion, John L Sullivan, died in 1918. He lost to James J Corbett in the first officially recognised world heavyweight title bout under Queensberry Rules in 1892, although some boxing historians believe Sullivan’s win over Dominick McCaffrey at Cincinnati in 1885 was the first such contest. Sullivan continued boxing under 1905 when he fought a three-round exhibition with Jack MccCormick at Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was 46 years of age at the time. Jean Babilée was born on this day in 1923, a prominent French dancer and choreographer of the latter half of the 20th century. He is considered to have been one of modern ballet’s greatest performers, and the first French dancer to gain international acclaim. Babilée has been called the “enfant terrible of dance.” After the war, Babilée joined the Soirées de la Danse, which later became Les Ballet des Champs Elysées.  Babilée enjoyed some of his greatest successes as a member of Les Ballets des Champs-Elysées and Les Ballets de Paris.  From 1945 to 1950 he was principal dancer of the Ballets des Champs-Élysées, for which he created roles in ballets including Jeu de cartes, Jean Cocteau’s Le Jeune Homme et la MortL’Amour et son amour, and Till Eulenspiegel.  In several of these ballets he performed opposite his wife, featured ballerina Nathalie Philippart. In the 1940s Babilée quickly developed a reputation for his physical prowess. It was said that he could leap better than any dancer since Nijinsky, and in the 1946 premiere of Le Jeune Homme et la Mort he hung by his neck on a gallows for one minute, supported only by wrapping one arm around a pillar. In the 1950s he danced as a guest of Le Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris and the American Ballet Theatre, before forming his own company, Les Ballets Jean Babilée. In 1972 and 1973 he served as director of the Ballet du Rhin in Strasbourg. In the early 1980s, Maurice Béjart created the solo Life for him. In 1984, at the age of 61, he performed Le Jeune Homme et la Mort with the Ballet de Marseille. In 1949 golfing champion Ben Hogan was seriously injured in a road traffic accident. On this day in 1962 John Uelses became the first person to officially pole-vault 16ft (4.88m) at the Melrose Games. He held the world record in the pole vault for a short time with his personal best of 4.89m. Uelses, being one of the first vaulters to jump on a fiberglass pole, made this new style of vaulting pole the standard with his 16′ jump. He was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated on Feb 26 1962. On this day in 1992 Kieren Perkins swam a world record time for the 1500m freestyle (14:32.40). Fred Perry English tennis and table tennis player and former World No. 1 died on this day in 1995. Perry won 10 Majors including eight Grand Slams and two Pro Slams single titles, as well as six Major doubles titles. He also won three consecutive Wimbledon Championships from 1934 to 1936 and was World Amateur number one tennis player during those three years. Prior to Andy Murray in 2013, Perry was the last British player to win the men’s Wimbledon championship, in 1936, and the last British player to win a men’s singles Grand Slam title until Andy Murray won the 2012 US Open.Today in 2015 at the age of 17 years 9 months and 8 day, Lydia Ko became the youngest player of either gender to be ranked No. 1 in professional golf.


3rd Helen Stephens American athlete and a double Olympic champion in 1936 was born today in 1918. Stephens, nicknamed the “Fulton Flash” after her birthplace, Fulton, Missouri, was a strong athlete in sprint events, she never lost a race in her entire career and also in weight events such as the shot and discus. She won national titles in both categories. When she was 18, Stephens participated in the 1936 Olympics. There she won the 100m final, beating reigning champion and world record holder, Stanisława Walasiewicz (aka Stella Walsh) of Poland. Stephen’s time of 11.5s was below the world record, but was not recognized because a strong tailwind was blowing at the time. Next, Stephens anchored the American 4×100m relay team that won the Olympic title after the leading German team dropped its baton. Stephens retired from athletics shortly after the games and played professional baseball and softball. From 1938–1952, she was the owner and manager of her own semi-professional basketball team; she was the first woman to own and manage a semi-professional basketball team.  She died in Saint Louis at age 75. On this day in 1972 the 11th Winter Olympic Games were opened in Sapporo, Japan, they were the first to be held in Asia. Larry Holmes scored a 6th round technical knock-out over Lorenzo Holmes today in 1980 to take the heavyweight boxing crown. In 1990 American jockey Willie Shoemaker had his 40,351st and last ride, on Patchy Groundfog at Santa Atlanta in the appropriately named ‘The Legend’s Last Ride Handicap’ Runcorn Highfield drew 12-all with Carlisle on this day in 1991 to end the worst losing streak in rugby league history. The team had lost their previous 55 league games, going back to 29th January 1989. Their first win came 20 games later, in March 1991. Althea Louise Brough Clapp née Brough died today in 2014, an American tennis player. During her career between 1942 and 1957, she won six Grand Slam singles titles as well as numerous doubles and mixed doubles titles. She was ranked world no. 1 by Lance Tingay in 1955. In doubles, Brough usually teamed with her longtime friend Margaret Osborne duPont. Both won their first US doubles title at the 1942 US Championships. The successful pair won another eight consecutive doubles titles at Forest Hills until 1950 which is the longest championship run in history in any event at any Grand Slam tournament. Brough and duPont did not play as a team at the US Championships in 1951 or 1952 but in 1953, they returned to extend their record match winning streak to 41 before losing to Hart and Shirley Fry Irvin in the final, 6–2, 7–9, 9–7. Their career record as a team at the US Championships was 58–2, winning 12 of the 14 times they entered the tournament and losing only five sets in those 14 years. In singles, Brough won the US title in 1947. Although she appeared in five more singles finals at Forest Hills, this would remain her only US singles title. In 1948, she had a match point at 6–5 in the third set against duPont. She also had three match points in the 1954 final against Doris Hart, the first at 5–4 in the third set and two more at 6–5 in that set. At Wimbledon, Brough won the singles title three times in a row between 1948 and 1950, and again 1955. During the “Brough decade” from 1946 through 1955, a Wimbledon final without her was unusual. She appeared in 21 of the 30 finals contested at Wimbledon in singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles during that period. In 1950, she won the rare triple at Wimbledon – singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Alongside duPont, she won four doubles titles at Wimbledon, and another four mixed doubles titles partnering Tom Brown, John Bromwich and Eric Sturgess. Brough married Pasadena dentist Dr. Alan Clapp in 1958 and retired from tennis competitions one year later. She taught juniors in California for the following 20 years She was inducted in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1967. Occasionally she played in senior tournaments, winning the doubles title at the US Hard Court Senior Championships alongside Barbara Green Weigandt in 1971 and 1975, she was 90 years old when she died.


4thAmerican golfer Bryon Nelson was born in 1912. His 52 wins on the US tour put him in fifth place in the all-time table of total number of victories at that time. Twenty-six of his wins came in just two seasons, 1944-45, with 18 of them achieved in the latter year. Between March and August 1945 he won all 11 events he entered, including the PGA Championship. Nelson won the Masters twice the PGA Championships twice, and in 1939 won the US Open after a three-way play-off. This day seems to have been a lucky one for Malcolm Campbell. In 1927 he set a new world land speed record of 174.88 mph (281km/hr) in his famous Bluebird at Pendine Sands in Wales. Exactly twelve months later, in 1928, he increased it to 206.96 mph (333 km/hr) at Daytona Beach, Florida. The 3rd Winter Olympic Games opened in Lake Placid, USA today in 1932. In 1962 the Russian newspaper Izvestia reported that baseball was an old Russian game. ‘Lapta’, a Russian folk-game played with a bat and ball was claimed to be the inspiration for American baseball, this backed up an early claim, made in 1925 by the Russian magazine Smena which referred to ‘beizbol’, an intimation, as a game that was played in Russian villages when “the United States was not even marked on the maps”.   In 1976 the 12th Winter Olympic Games were opened in Innsbruck, Austria. At Wellington in 1991 a record-breaking Test partnership between New Zealand batsman Martin Crowe and Andrew Jones ended at 467 when Crowe dismissed with the last ball of the day for 299. The pair had been at the crease for two days, helping their side to a total of 671 runs for 4 wickets against Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankans’ first innings total of 497-9 declared was also a record, their highest in Test cricket. The match ended in a draw. Also on this day in 1991 the RFU rejected a plea by Wimbledon FC to play their home matches at Twickenham. Helen Tobias-Duesberg, Estonian-American composer, died on this day in 2010 aged 90. She was the youngest daughter of Estonian composer, Rudolf Tobias, seven months after his death. She studied music composition at the Tallinn Conservatoire, which is now known as the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, under Artur Kapp and Heino Eller. She graduated from the Conservatoire as an organist in 1943. She later studied at the Berlin University of Music. During World War II, she met her future husband, William Duesberg, a journalist who was repeatedly imprisoned for writing stories critical of Adolf Hitler. Shortly after the war, Duesberg died of a heart attack in a Stuttgart courtroom while preparing to testify against several Nazi war criminals. Tobias-Duesberg moved to the United States from Estonia, which was then part of the Soviet Union, in 1951. She began composing music and performing at several churches in New York City.  She composed chamber, vocal and symphonic pieces, the most famous of which may be Requiem, which was composed for orchestra, mixed choir and soloists. During the Civil Rights era, she played the organ at Friendship Baptist Church in Harlem when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. served as a guest preacher. Meanwhile, she composed violin and cello sonatas, string quartets, song cycles, concertos, and a wide range of choral works. Her compositions have been performed on major concert stages in the U.S., Canada, and Europe as well as the Aspen, Ravinia and Spoleto festivals.


5th On this day in 1923at Melbourne, Victoria became the first side on first-class cricket to amass a four-figure total of runs. Bill Ponsford scored 429 of Victoria’s 1059 runs, against Tasmania, to establish an individual world record. Baseball player Henry Louis ‘Hank’ Aaron was born in 1934. He held the record for the most home runs in major league baseball, in 1974 he beat ‘Babe’ Ruth’s 40-year old record of 714 and ended his career with a total of 755. Today in 1948 Dick Button became the first US figure skating Olympic champion. In 1949 Huaso set an official world equestrian high-jump record of 2.47m or 8ft 1in, ridden by Chilean Captain Alberto Larraguibel in Viña del Mar, Chile, one of the longest-running unbroken sport records in history (67 years). When they broke the world record Huaso was already 16 years old, quite old for a result of that magnitude. After the record, the horse was retired and never ridden again. He roamed freely until he died naturally on August 24, 1961, at the age of 29. Huaso is buried on the same Cavalry Academy where he spent his last years. Today in 1953 children all over the country started emptying their piggy banks and headed straight for the nearest sweet-shop as the first unrationed sweets went on sale. Toffee apples were the biggest sellers, with sticks of nougat and liquorice strips also disappearing fast. One firm in Clapham Common gave 800 children 150lbs of lollipops during their midday break from school; and a London factory opened its doors to hand out free sweets to all comers. Adults joined in the sugar frenzy, with men in the City queuing up in their lunch breaks to buy boiled sweets and to enjoy the luxury of being able to buy 2lb boxes of chocolates to take home. The government and manufacturers were quick to reassure the public that there would be no repeat of the first attempt to de-ration sweets, in April 1949, when demand far outstripped supply and they were put back on ration after just four months. This time, the Minister of Food, Major Gwilym Lloyd-George, told the House of Commons that he had no doubt that stocks were sufficient. He had ordered a one-off allocation of extra sugar to manufacturers to help them meet the anticipated surge in demand. Sugar itself was still rationed. On this day in 1956 the 7th Winter Olympic Games closed at Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy. Jüri Tamm was born on this day in 1957, a former Estonian hammer thrower, representing USSR, he won a bronze medal in both the 1980 and 1988 Olympics and silver in the 1987 World Athletic Championships. José María Olazábal Manterola, Spanish golfer was born today in 1966, he has enjoyed success on both the European Tour and the PGA Tour, and has won two major championships, both at The Masters. In 2012 he captained Europe’s Ryder Cup team to a narrow victory over the USA, which seemed improbable at the start of the final day’s play when the Europeans trailed 10–6. They came back to win 14½–13½. Olazábal was very emotional with the win, saying in an interview that that was his number one happiest golf moment and happiest moment of his life. The win was inspired by his late friend Seve Ballesteros, to whom he dedicated the win. Jo Zwaan died on this day in 2012 aged 89. He was a Dutch sprinter who competed in the Men’s 100m and 4×100 m relay events at the 1948 Olympics. Two years earlier he had competed at the 1946 European Athletics Championships as part of the Dutch 4×100m relay team, that finished 4th position. His brother Jan was also an Olympic sprinter; he participated in the 110m hurdles at the 1948 Games.