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Age before beauty

Steven Lynch August 1, 2011
Mark Cavendish won down the Champs Elysees this year © Getty Images

Has the Tour de France always ended in the Champs Elysees? If not who was the first to win it there? asked Mark Johnson
The idea of a spectacular climax to the Tour de France in the Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris was started in 1975 (I suppose it's possible that the odd one ended there before that). The winner that year was, appropriately enough, a Frenchman: Bernard Thevenet won Le Tour for the first time (he also won it in 1977). The previous year, when the race finished in Vincennes on the outskirts of Paris, Belgium's Eddy Merckx won his fifth and final Tour.

Which is the oldest horse to race in the Grand National? And who was the oldest jockey? asked Brian Carmody
It's slightly difficult to be entirely certain about either of these questions, since you are dealing with a race that started as long ago as 1839. But I believe the oldest horse to run in the Grand National at Aintree was Manifesto, a famous horse which had a record eight runs in the National and won it twice (1897 and 1899), as well as finishing third on three further occasions. Manifesto was 16 when he rain at Aintree for the last time, in 1904. The oldest National winner was Peter Simple, which was 15 in 1853. I'm not sure about the oldest jockey, but I do know that the Duke of Alburquerque - a Spanish nobleman who made several unsuccessful attempts at the National - was 55 when he finished eighth in the 1974 race, wearing a plaster cast to protect a recently fractured collarbone. We can be more certain about the oldest jockey to win the Grand National: that was 48-year-old Dick Saunders, the only member of the Jockey Club to win the race, who triumphed on Grittar in 1982.

Were any of the current athletics world records set in Britain? asked Jess Beecher
The only current outdoor world record set in Britain over a distance competed for in the Olympics is in the women's marathon: Paula Radcliffe set the existing record (two hours 15 minutes 25 seconds) in the 2003 London marathon. If you take in all the records ratified by the IAAF then the world record for the rarely contested women's 200 metres - Sonia O'Sullivan's 5:25.36 - was also set in Britain, in Edinburgh in 1994.

Paula Radcliffe is flying the flag for Great Britain © Getty Images

Who was the last British-born man to be seeded No. 1 in the singles at Wimbledon? asked John Bonaire
This one is a bit of a trick question: you would probably expect the answer to be Fred Perry, the last British-born man to win the men's singles at Wimbledon. He was the top seed in 1936, but his Davis Cup team-mate Bunny Austin was given the No. 1 spot in 1939 (he had been beaten in the final the previous year by Donald Budge, who had since turned professional and was thus ineligible to play at Wimbledon). But Austin isn't the answer either: the top seed in 1946 was Dinny Pails, who represented Australia but was actually born in Nottingham in England. A curiosity of his seeding was that, mainly because of the war and also the difficulty of travelling to and from Australia, Pails had apparently never played a competitive match against a non-Australian player before leaving for Wimbledon. Pails didn't win, mainly because he got lost on the London Underground - he went the wrong way on the Circle Line, I was told - and was late for his quarter-final against the Vietnam-born Frenchman Yvon Petra. Pails didn't have time to warm up properly, and duly lost: Petra went on to win the title.

The PGA Championship takes place soon at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Have any majors been held there before - and if so have any Irishmen won them?! asked Neil Winton from Belfast
Next week's PGA Championship will be the fourth men's major held at the Atlanta Athletic Club - and all the previous winners have been American! In 1976 the US Open was won by rookie Steve Pate. Five years later the PGA Championship was played there for the first time, and won by Larry Nelson. The PGA returned to Atlanta 20 years later, in 2001, when the winner was David Toms, whose overall aggregate of 265 (66-65-65-69) remains a record for any major. The AAC also staged the women's US Open in 1990, when the winner was Betsy King.

I read that Bernard Hopkins recently became the oldest man to be recognised as a world boxing champion. Who was the previous record-holder? asked Tom Lawrence
You're right, Bernard Hopkins recently became the oldest man to win one of the senior world boxing titles: he was 46 years and four months old when he outpointed the Canadian champion Jean Pascal to claim the WBC light-heavyweight title in Montreal in May 2011. He was about six months older than the previous-oldest man to win a world title -the legendary George Foreman was 45 and ten months old when he knocked out Michael Moorer to win the WBA and IBF heavyweight titles in 1994.

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