- Ask Steven
A record-breaking runner and rugby points scorerSteven Lynch February 18, 2013
I noticed that the great Alfredo Di Stefano played international football for three countries. Has anyone ever appeared for three in the World Cup? asked Christopher Moore
Alfredo Di Stefano, best known now for spearheading the great Real Madrid team of the 1950s which dominated the early years of the European Cup, won six caps for his native Argentina in 1947, scoring six goals, and later played 31 times for Spain from 1957 to 1961. He scored 23 goals for them, a national record until 1990, starting with a hat-trick on his debut against Netherlands. But he never appeared in a World Cup finals tournament: Spain failed to qualify in 1958, and although Di Stefano was in the 1962 squad, there were rumours of a rift with coach Helenio Herrera, and he didn't actually get on to the field. But the stories about Di Stefano playing for Colombia are inaccurate: he may have played for a Colombian League XI during his time with a club in Bogota, but not for the national team (whose matches were unofficial at the time anyway because of a dispute with FIFA). The only man to have played for three entirely different countries is Laszlo Kubala - a Barcelona star throughout the '50s - who won six caps for Czechoslovakia, three for his native Hungary, and 19 for Spain, several of them alongside Di Stefano. The only man to represent three (technically) different countries in the World Cup finals is Dejan Stankovic, who played for Yugoslavia in 1998, Serbia & Montenegro in 2006, and Serbia in 2010.
Who has trained and ridden the most winners of the Derby? asked David Greaves
Three men have trained seven winners of the Derby, all of them some time ago: Robert Robson (between 1793 and 1823), John Porter (1868-99) and Fred Darling (1922-41). The most since the Second World War is six, by Vincent O'Brien: His son, David, also trained one (Secreto, in 1984, which edged out Vincent's pre-race favourite El Gran Senor by a short head). The leading jockey is none other than Lester Piggott, who won the Derby nine times between 1954 and 1983. The leading owners, with five wins apiece, are the Earl of Egremont (1782-1826) and the third Aga Khan (1930-52).
Has any tennis player ever won three grand slam titles in one year, but lost the final of the other one? asked Maria Dunstan
Seven players have come within touching distance of a calendar-year Grand Slam, winning three of the major titles but losing in the final of the other one. Two of those players - Margaret Court in 1965 and Steffi Graf in both 1989 and 1993 - did achieve the Slam at other times during their careers. Three men have fallen at the last - almost literally in the cases of Jack Crawford (1933) and Lew Hoad (1956), who both lost in the US final after winning the first three titles of the year. Crawford lost to Fred Perry, while Hoad was upset by his friend and compatriot Ken Rosewall. Roger Federer won three titles in both 2006 and 2007, but lost the French final in both years to Rafael Nadal. In the women's game, apart from Court and Graf, in 1991 Monica Seles won the Australian, French and US titles but lost (to Graf) in the Wimbledon final, while in 1997 Martina Hingis won in Australia, Wimbledon and the US, but was rather surprisingly beaten in the French final by Iva Majoli.
How many people have scored 1,000 points in international rugby? asked James Lewis
Five men have so far broken the 1,000-point barrier in senior international rugby. The first to get there was the Welshman Neil Jenkins, who finished his career in 2003 with 1,090 points. He's been joined since by Diego Dominguez (1,010 points - 983 for Italy following 27 for Argentina), Ronan O'Gara (1,083 after the England game on February 10), Jonny Wilkinson (1,246), and the current table-topper, New Zealand's Dan Carter (1,385). It doesn't look as if anyone will be joining this select band anytime soon: Stephen Jones appears to have ended his distinguished career for Wales with 970 points, and the next current name on the list is Felipe Contepomi of Argentina, with 631.
Now the Baltimore Ravens have won the Super Bowl, how many teams are left who have never even appeared in one? asked David Rice
Well, first of all the Baltimore Ravens had won the Super Bowl before (in 2000), so their recent victory over the San Francisco 49ers (the first time the 49ers had been on the losing side in six Super Bowl appearances) was the Ravens' second title. Four current sides have never been in a Super Bowl at all, but two of those are expansion teams - recent additions to the leagues - in the shape of the Jacksonville Jaguars (added in 1995) and Houston Texans (2002). The only two longer-established teams which have never reached the Super Bowl are the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions. There are ten other teams which have played in a Super Bowl but never won it - including the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings, who have both lost on four occasions.
I spotted that Maria Mutola had an amazing record at the World Indoor Championships, winning the 800 metres seven times. Is this a record? asked Paul McDonald
It is a record for one event at the World Indoor Championships, yes: Maria Mutola, from Mozambique, won the 800m on the boards in 1993, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2006. She missed out during that time only in 1999, when she finished just behind the Czech Ludmila Formanova. In 2008 Mutola collected a bronze behind the Australian winner Tamsyn Lewis. Mutola also won three 800m golds in the outdoor world championships, and one in the Olympics (at Sydney in 2000). One other woman has won seven golds in the World Indoor Championships: Natalya Nazarova, from Moscow, collected five in the 4x400m relay, to go with two in the individual 400m. The men's record is five golds, by the Cuban high jumper Ivan Pedroso between 1993 and 2001.