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Olympic glory - eight years on

Steven Lynch June 11, 2012
Fred Perry was the last British man to win a grand slam title © Getty Images

I know that Fred Perry was the last British man to win Wimbledon. But is he also the last Brit to win all the other Grand Slam singles titles too? asked Jim Maitland

The rather embarrassing answer is yes, he is - Perry won the US national championships in 1933, 1934 and 1936, the Australian in 1934, and the French in 1935. He was the first man to win all four, and since then only six others have ever completed a career slam. Since Perry's last grand slam singles title the nearest a British man has come to winning one has been defeat in the final, for Bunny Austin (twice), John Lloyd (1977), Greg Rusedski (1997) and Andy Murray (three times so far). Austin was the last Briton to reach the Wimbledon men's singles final, losing to America's Donald Budge in 1938. British women have done rather better: since the Second World War Ann Jones and Virginia Wade have won three grand slam singles titles, Angela Mortimer two, and Sue Barker, Shirley Bloomer and Christine Truman one each.

How many athletes have regained an Olympic track and field title - I mean having not won it four years after their first gold medal? asked Colin Dalton

This is quite a rare achievement - obviously, I suppose, since at least eight years have to go by before you can manage it. Probably the most famous athlete to have done this is the American 400m hurdler Ed Moses, who won gold in 1976 then missed the 1980 Olympics because of the American boycott of the Moscow Games. But Moses won again in 1984, and narrowly missed out on yet another gold in 1988, when he was third. Another American 400m hurdler, Angelo Taylor, pulled off the same double in 2000 and 2008 (he went out in the semi-finals in 2004). The others to have achieved it in individual track and field events are: Paavo Nurmi (men's 10,000m 1920 and 1928), Vladimir Golubnichiy (men's 20km walk 1960 and 1968), Ulrike Meyfarth (high jump 1972 and 1984, a record gap; she is both the youngest and oldest winner of the event), Derartu Tulu (women's 10,000m 1992 and 2000), and Heike Drechsler (women's long jump 1992 and 2000).

I was surprised to read that no British golfer has ever won the US PGA Championship. What's the closest one has come to winning it? asked Keith Clark

Well, it's not strictly true to say that no British golfer has ever won the PGA Championship - the first two, held in 1916 and 1919 (there was a gap because of the First World War), were won by Jim Barnes, who was born in Cornwall. He is usually shown in the record books as English, although it's true that he had lived in the United States for around ten years before winning that inaugural title at the Siwanoy Country Club in New York in 1916. Barnes also won the US Open in 1921, and the British Open at Prestwick in 1925. The closest a British golfer has come to winning the PGA since was in 1995, when Colin Montgomerie was involved in a play-off, but lost to Australia's Steve Elkington. The Irishman Padraig Harrington won it in 2007 and Martin Kaymer of Germany in 2010: they are the only European winners apart from Barnes.

I noticed that a chap called Ken Scotland played rugby for Scotland. Are there any other examples like this? asked Graham Parsons

Ken Scotland was an attacking fullback who won 32 caps for Scotland between 1957 and 1965, and also played five times for the British Lions (and Scotland also played cricket for Scotland). A forward called John Ireland won two caps for Ireland in the 1870s, but James Ireland, a hooker who won 11 caps in the 1920s, played for Scotland. Willie Welsh, meanwhile, won 21 caps for Scotland, and Michael English 16 for Ireland. Moving to other sports, Innes Ireland - considered Scottish although he was born in England - drove the winning car in the 1961 United States Grand Prix. Rob Denmark of England won the 5000 metres at the 1994 Commonwealth Games. And Mike England was a famous footballer of the 1960s ... who played for Wales. I'm sure there are plenty more!

Has a British woman ever won a world boxing title? asked Jane Harding

No British woman had won one until May this year, when Savannah Marshall from Hartlepool won the world middleweight title in China, beating Azerbaijan's Elena Vystropova in the final - which happened to take place on Savannah's 21st birthday. She had won a silver medal in the 2010 championships, and heads into London 2012 as a medal prospect now that women's boxing has been included in the Olympics for the first time.

The winning horse in this year's Oaks, Was, had only three letters in its name. Is this a record? asked Adam Johnson

I could only dredge up Oath, the 1999 Derby winner, from memory - but although that was indeed the last four-letter winner of an English Classic, there are a few three-letter names if you go back a bit further. The most recent was Pia, ridden by Edward Hide, which won the Oaks in 1967. That was the first three-letter Oaks victor since Tag, ridden by Sam Chifney, in 1789. There have been two three-letter Derby winners: Pan (1808), ridden by Frank Collinson, and Sam (1818), appropriately ridden by Sam Chifney junior. Zoe, ridden by Jem Robinson, won the 1000 Guineas in 1828. Changing tack a little, Oxo won the Grand National in 1959, three years after the race (which I know is not an English flat-racing Classic!) was won by ESB.

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