Armand Gérard Gaudreault, Canadian ice hockey player, who was born on 14th July 1921 in Lac Saint-Jean, Quebec, died on this day in 2013, a few weeks short of his 92 birthday . He began his professional career with the Quebec Aces of the Quebec Senior Hockey League in 1940. In 1944, he signed with the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League and played 44 games, scoring 15 goals and 24 points in his one and only season in the NHL. Afterwards he had two highly productive seasons with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears, with 21 and 23 goals in respective seasons. He would eventually return to the Aces in 1949 and would remain with the team until his retirement in 1952. He was always known as a solid two-way forward who didn’t back down from anyone even though he was only 155 pounds.
Australian former World number 1 tennis player, Lewis “Lew” Alan Hoad ( died on this day in 1994. Long-time tennis promoter (and great player himself) Jack Kramer, ranked Lew as one of the 21 best players of all time. Born in New South Wales, his childhood home overlooked the tennis courts of the Hereford Club and Lew, encouraged by his father, soon started to knock a tennis ball against the garage door. He ﬁrst played a game of tennis against Ken Rosewall when both boys were aged twelve; Rosewall’s superior control and court speed dominated their early encounters. Very different in personality and style of play, as Lew gradually gained control over erratic ground shots he generally defeated Rosewall. At fifteen years of age both were selected in the New South Wales men’s team to play Victoria in Melbourne, beginning a ‘famous rivalry and partnership’—as the tennis ‘twins’—through which their names would become linked ‘almost as though they were halves of one person’. Adrian Quist recognised in Lew a splendid athlete with uncanny instincts, and employed him at Dunlop Sports Co. Pty Ltd after he left school. Soon he came under Harry Hopman’s tutelage, and in 1951 he won the Australian junior singles title. That year he met Jennifer Jane Staley, an Australian women’s singles ﬁnalist in 1954, who he would later marry. Lew and Rosewall captured the public imagination in 1953, when they were both aged nineteen. That year they won the Australian, French, and Wimbledon doubles titles, and in the Davis Cup challenge ﬁnal Lew’s defeat of the American Tony Trabert was a supreme achievement. For five consecutive years, starting in 1952, he was ranked in the world top 10 for amateurs, reaching the World No. 1 spot in 1956. He was a member of the Australian team that between 1952 and 1956 won the Davis Cup four times and turned professional in July 1957. He won four Grand Slam tournaments as an amateur, and won the 1959 Tournament of Champions as a professional. Rod Laver, writing for the Herald Sun newspaper in 2012, ranked him as the greatest player of the ‘Past Champions’ era of tennis. Laver described his strengths of “power, volleying and explosiveness” as justification of his accolade. Serious back problems plagued him throughout his career, particularly after he turned professional, and led to his effective retirement from tennis in 1967 although he made sporadic comebacks, enticed by the advent of the open era in 1968. Professional tennis provided enough capital for Lew and Jenny to establish Campo de Tenis in 1967 at Fuengirola, Costa del Sol, Spain, where they coached. A genial host, Lew ‘smoked and drank and yarned,’ with a broad Aussie accent. He was warm-hearted, easy-going, and well-liked. Survived by his wife, two daughters, and one son, he died at Fuengirola in 1994 of a heart attack, while awaiting a bone marrow donor for leukaemia.
David Onllwyn Brace, Welsh international scrum-half who was born in 1932 died today in 2013. Onllwyn won nine caps for Wales and would captain the team twice in the early 1960s. Brace was an exciting, unorthodox scrum-half, who epitomised the Welsh flair scrum-half, though the paucity of international rugby union caps awarded to him in no way reflected the talent and originality of the player himself. At a time when the game in Wales was descending into a barren period, he was a flash of wit which the selectors of the era tended to distrust. Onllwyn first played rugby for Aberavon but moved to Newport after the club tried to play him in the unfamiliar role of outside-half to Cliff Ashton. As a Newport player, he was chosen to face the touring New Zealand in 1954. He later played for Llanelli and captained the team during two seasons 1958/59 and 1960/61 and was one of 21 former Llanelli captains to parade in front of the supporters before the final match at Llanelli’s first home ground, Stradey Park. Onllwyn made his international debut for Wales against England on 21st January 1956 in a game at the Twickenham. Wales won the match 8–3, and he faced England’s Mike Smith, of whom he had made an excellent half-back partnership at Oxford University. Onllwyn went on to play in all four matches of the 1956 Five Nations which Wales won, losing only to Ireland in the tournament. He succeeded Cliff Morgan as Head of Sport at BBC Wales and after retiring from the BBC in 1989 he joined the Merlin Group as a freelance producer making sport and gardening programmes for the BBC and S4C.
Dominican diplomat, race car driver, soldier and polo player, Porfirio Rubirosa Ariza passed away on this day in 1965. Born on 22nd January 1909 he was an adherent of the dictator Rafael Trujillo and also rumoured to be a political assassin under his regime. Rubirosa was born in San Francisco de Macorís in the Dominican Republic, the third and youngest child of an upper-middle-class family. His father, a one time a “general” of a group of heavily armed men in the mountainous Cibao region working with the government, advanced to become a diplomat, and after a stint at St. Thomas was made Chief of the Dominican Embassy to Paris in 1915. Rubirosa thus grew up in Paris and returned to the Dominican Republic at the age of 17 to study law. But he soon changed course and enlisted in the military, eventually becoming a diplomat of the Dominican in 1936.In this role, he was sent to embassies, first at Berlin (during the 1936 Olympic Games) and soon to Paris, where he spent most of his time. After World War II, Rubirosa became engaged in two major passions, polo and car racing, both expensive sports that would be supported in years to come by his wives. He organised and led his own polo team Cibao-La Pampa that was an often successful contender for the Coupe de France. Rubirosa played polo until the end of his life. In the same period, he started to acquire fast cars and form friendships with racing car drivers. He would own a number of Ferraris. His first race at 24 Hours of Le Mans took place in June 1950 with his partner Pierre Leygonie, and his second race, this time with Innocente Baggio, was four years later; in both races his car did not finish. Rubirosa participated in a number of races at Sebring, all but once as a private entry. Rubirosa entered one Formula One race, in 1955, the Grand Prix de Bordeaux. He planned to drive his own Ferrari 500, however, he fell ill before the race and did not drive. His love of speed was eventually to be his downfall when he crashed his Ferrari sports-car into a tree on Avenue de la Reine-Marguerite in the Bois de Boulogne, 56-year-old Rubirosa died in an ambulance on the way to hospital. The wooden steering wheel of the type used in racing competition had crushed his chest. He died within sight of two of his favourite recreation spots, the Longchamps Race Course and the Bagatelle Polo Club .
Mudashiru Babatunde “Muda” Lawal, Nigerian footballer, born on 8th June 1954, died today in 1991, aged just 37. Although known as Mudasiru Lawal throughout his playing career, the late midfielder’s name was actually Mudasiru Babatunde Agboluaje. The name Lawal came from his mentor, who introduced him to football. When he started playing football, he was referred to by fans and playmates as Muda, Lawal’s boy (Mudasiru omo Lawal). Hence, the adoption of Lawal as his surname; the appellation that stuck to him till his death. He worked as a mechanic before his football talents were discovered, and made his national team debut in 1975. The same year, he joined Shooting Stars FC of Ibadan, where he would play for many years. In 1976, he helped the club to their first continental title, winning the African Cup Winners Cup – the first Nigerian team to do so. In 1985 the club side was disbanded by a military governor. Muda returned to the side four seasons latter as an assistant coach/player. Muda won 86 caps and scored 12 goals for his country, and holds the record of being the only player on the continent to have appeared at five consecutive Nations’ Cup finals (1976–1984). Lawal guided Nigeria to its first African Nations Cup title, at the 1980 African Nations Cup. The team also competed at the Summer Olympics the same year. The Ashero Stadium in his hometown Abeokuta was named after him upon his death.
Polish mountaineer Artur Hajzer died on this day in 2013, aged 51. He was best known for the first winter ascent of Annapurna on 3rd February1987 together with Jerzy Kukuczka. Artur has seven main eight-thousanders to his name, several via new routes (Manaslu’s NE face in 1986, Shishapangma’s east ridge in 1987) and the first winter climb of Annapurna. He also summited Annapurna East (8010m) via a new route up the SE face in 1988. All these climbs were done together with Kukuczka, and without supplemental oxygen or Sherpa support. Artur also attempted Lhotse South Face three times reaching 8200m in 1985, 8300m in 1987 and 7200m (alpine style) in 1989. He is also known as organiser of a “thunderbolt” rescue operation on Mount Everest’s West Ridge for Andrzej Marciniak in 1989. On 30th September 2011, he summitted Makalu with Adam Bielecki and Tomasz Wolfart. In July 2013 he died after falling in the Japanese Coloir after an attempt to reach the summit of Gasherbrum I. According to Artur’s climbing partner, Marcin Kaczkan, bad weather turned the two climbers back from their summit bid near 8000m. During the descent, they inadvertently separated. Artur attempted to call his wife as he reportedly thought Kaczkan had fallen, but bad reception didn’t allow for a connection. He was able to send a SMS message saying Kaczkan had fallen down the Japanese Couloir. However, that was not the case. Kaczkan was descending slowly below him. Then Artur fell while trying to find his partner. “I think Artur was stressed because he thought Marcin had fallen and immediately began descending to search for him,” the Polish alpinist Krzysztof Wielicki says. “I think he made some mistakes while trying to hurry, lost balance and fell.” Meanwhile, oblivious to Artur’s tribulations, Kaczkan continued descending on his own, and saw Artur fall 500m to the base of the Japanese Couloir. When Kaczkan reached him, he was already dead. Artur and Kaczkan had been attempting to climb Gasherbrum I and II in rapid succession before the accident halted the expedition.
Désiré Alfred Mérchez, French swimmer and water-polo player, born on 16th August 1882 in Lille, died today in 1968 in Nice. In 1900 he won the bronze medal with the French team in the 200m “team” swimming. He also participated in the 1000m freestyle event but was eliminated in the first round. As a member of the French water polo team Pupilles de Neptune de Lille II he won a second bronze medal at the same Olympics. The team beating the German team Berliner Swimming Club 3-2 in the quarter finals but losing heavily (10-0) to the British team from Manchester, the Osborne Swimming Club in the semi-finals. The British would go on to claim the gold, beating the Brussels Swimming and Water Polo Club 7-2 in the final.