- Ask Steven
Gerrard's walk of shameSteven Lynch September 17, 2012
How many people have been sent off while playing for England, as Steven Gerrard was last week? asked Andy Thomas
Gerrard's red card was the 14th instance of an England footballer being sent off in a full international: leading the way (if that's the right phrase) with two dismissals are David Beckham (against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup, and Austria in a 2006 World Cup qualifier) and Wayne Rooney (against Portugal in the 2006 World Cup, and Macedonia in a Euro 2012 qualifier). The first man to be sent off while playing for England was Alan Mullery, after two bookable offences in the 1968 European Championship semi-final against Yugoslavia. Since then the walk of shame has been undertaken by Alan Ball, Trevor Cherry, Ray Wilkins (the first to be sent off in a World Cup match, against Morocco in 1986), Paul Ince, Paul Scholes, David Batty, Alan Smith and Robert Green (like Gerrard against Ukraine, in a 2010 World Cup qualifier).
Now Andy Murray has finally won a major singles title, which player has been in the most finals without winning one? asked Robert Wilson
Andy Murray's fine win in the US Open meant that he had at last collected a grand slam singles title in his fifth final, coincidentally the same record as his current coach/mentor, Ivan Lendl. The only man to lose more finals before winning one was the Australian Fred Stolle, who was runner-up in five in the 1960s before winning at Roland Garros in 1965. Jaroslav Drobny (in the late 1940s/early '50s) and Herbert Lawford (the 19th-century player usually credited with introducing top-spin to tennis) both lost four finals before winning one. The overall record is held by Simone Mathieu, who lost in the final of the French Championships six times between 1929 and 1937 before finally winning it in 1938 (and 1939 too). Two other women - Jan Lehane and Helena Sukova - lost in four grand slam singles finals and never won one: Lehane's were in successive years in Australia, 1960-63, and she lost each time in straight sets to Margaret Smith. The men's record is three finals and no wins, by Bunny Austin and Frank Riseley of Great Britain, Australia's Harry Hopman, the American Frank Hunter, and Eric Sturgess of South Africa (the only one of them to have played after the Second World War).
Will Claye won medals in the long and triple jumps at London 2012. Who was the last man to do this double? asked Christopher Black
The American athlete Will Claye won silver in the triple jump in London 2012, and bronze in the long jump. It turns out that this particular medal double hasn't been achieved by a male athlete at the Olympics since the Second World War: at Berlin in 1936 Naoto Tajima of Japan won the triple jump and took bronze in the long jump. At the previous Games, at Los Angeles in 1932, another Japanese jumper, Chuhei Nambu, did the same. The only man to win both jumps at the same Olympics was the American Myer Prinstein, at St Louis in 1904. For the women, Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia won the long jump and took bronze in the triple at Athens in 2000, and four years later in Beijing was second in both events. (The triple jump was only added to the women's Olympic programme in 1996.)
Usain Bolt has won the sprint relay at the last two Olympics. Has anyone ever won three in a row? asked Terry Mitchell
Usain Bolt - and two of his Jamaican team-mates, Nesta Carter and Michael Frater - have indeed lifted the gold medal in the 4x100m relay at the last two Olympics. The only man to have won three, however, is an unsung name - Frank Wykoff, from Iowa. He never won an individual medal - he was fourth in the 100m in 1928 - but was part of the winning American team at that Games in Amsterdam, and at the following one in 1932 in Los Angeles. In Berlin he was again fourth in the individual 100m, which was won by the great Jesse Owens, but Wykoff anchored the sprint relay team to the gold medal. In 1928 the American team equalled the existing world record in the final, and in 1932 and 1936 they broke it.
After this weekend's St Leger, I wondered what was the last horse to win the so-called English "Triple Crown"? asked Lawrence Mackie
The English horse racing Triple Crown comprises the Derby, the 2000 Guineas and the St Leger. It has been won on 15 occasions since West Australian first did it in 1853, most recently by the famous horse Nijinsky, ridden by Lester Piggott, in 1970. It's rare these days for the Derby winner to attempt the St Leger, which takes place more than three months after the Epsom race. There is also a fillies' Triple Crown - the Oaks, 1000 Guineas and St Leger - which has been successfully completed on nine occasions, most recently by Oh So Sharp, ridden by Steve Cauthen, in 1985.
Rory McIlroy won successive tournaments in America recently. What's the record for consecutive victories? asked Michael Strong
The brilliant Rory McIlroy still has some way to go to overhaul the overall record - Byron Nelson won 11 successive events on the American PGA Tour in 1945. Tiger Woods has come close to that a couple of times - he won seven tournaments in a row in 2006-07, and six in 1999-2000. Ben Hogan also won six in a row in 1948. Nelson's overall performance in 1945 was phenomenal: there were 35 tournaments - he won 18 of them, and was second in seven others. Nelson was 33 at the time, but retired the following year to run his ranch. He did play the odd tournament, though, and in 1951 won his 52nd and last American Tour event.