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A royal appointment & Olympic near miss

Steven Lynch April 29, 2013
Herb McKenley came close to an Olympic feat of note © PA Photos

Is it true that the Queen's father, King George VI, played tennis at Wimbledon? asked James Summers
It is true, although he hadn't acceded to the throne at the time (and didn't really expect to). In 1926 the future King - the Duke of York at the time - was a keen tennis player, aged 30. He entered the men's doubles at Wimbledon that year with his friend and confidant Louis Greig, a handy player himself who was also an England rugby international: they had previously won the RAF championships. In the first round they were rather unlucky to come up against the doubles champions from 1909, Arthur Gore (who won the singles that year too) and Herbert Roper Barrett. Although they were both in their fifties by then, the old champions were too good for the Duke and his partner, winning 6-1 6-3 6-2 on No. 2 Court. I'm not sure whether this is true, but I've heard it suggested that the victorious pair were told off by the committee for giving their royal guest quite such a sound beating. Duncan Macaulay, a future secretary at Wimbledon, saw the match and said: "The Duke, who was left-handed, was a good player but against such formidable opposition his partner tried to do too much and too often committed the sin of 'poaching' rather than intercepting."

Has any athlete ever won the 100, 200 and 400 metres at the Olympics? asked William Turner
No man has ever done this - arguably the nearest approach was by the Jamaican Herb McKenley, who reached the finals of all three, winning silver medals at 400m in 1948 and 1952, and silver at 100m in Helsinki in 1952 as well. At the Pan-American Games in 1951 McKenley was second in the 100, 200 and 400m. However, a woman has achieved this golden Olympic triple: Australia's Betty Cuthbert won the 100/200m sprint double in front of an ecstatic crowd in Melbourne in 1956, and eight years later was a rather surprise winner of the 400m in Tokyo, beating the favourite Ann Packer of Great Britain. Packer made amends by winning the 800m, an event she didn't like very much.

I was surprised that Adam Scott was the first Australian to win the Masters. How many Aussies have won major titles? asked Clive Markham
Adam Scott's exciting victory at Augusta made him the ninth Australian golfer to win a men's major. Peter Thomson won five British Opens between 1954 and 1965, Kel Nagle won the Open in 1960, Greg Norman won it in 1986 and 1993, and Ian Baker-Finch in 1991. David Graham won the PGA in 1979 and the US Open in 1981. Wayne Grady won the PGA in 1990, and Steve Elkington followed suit in 1995. And the most recent Australian winner before Scott was Geoff Ogilvy, who lifted the US Open title in 2006. Some sources include a tenth name - Jim Ferrier, who won the US PGA in 1947, was born near Sydney, but had become an American citizen three years previously. In the women's game Karrie Webb won seven majors, and Jan Stephenson three.

Adam Scott: MAsters champion © Getty Images

Has anyone ever been whitewashed in the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible? asked Dave Patterson
Only one man has been unfortunate enough not to manage to win a frame in a match. This was in 1992, when John Parrott - the defending champion - beat the Australian Eddie Charlton 10-0 in the second round. Charlton was a three-times finalist in the pre-Crucible era, but he was 62 at the time of this defeat. Parrott himself has an unwanted record in this regard: in his first appearance in the final at the Crucible, in 1989, he won only three frames against Steve Davis, in the most one-sided final to date.

What's the only horse to win the Aintree Grand National, and the American one? asked Terry Carlisle
This is a bit of an old chestnut - rather like the horse itself. The answer is Battleship, which won the American Grand National at Belmont Park in 1934, and triumphed at Aintree four years later when his jockey, 17-year-old Bruce Hobbs, became the youngest rider ever to win the race (two weeks later he won the Welsh National too, on Timber Wolf). Bruce was the son of Battleship's trainer, Reg Hobbs. Battleship was quite a small horse (15.2 hands) and was an outsider at 40-1 in the betting at Aintree, but got up to beat Royal Danieli by a head in one of the closest National finishes of all.

I see from the records that Real Madrid won the first five European Cups. Who were the first team to beat them? asked Andy Milligan
Starting with the inaugural competition in 1955-56, Real Madrid won the European Champion Clubs' Cup (as it was originally called) every year until 1960-61. That season Real were knocked out in the first round by Barcelona, losing 2-1 away after drawing 2-2 at home. Barcelona made it to the final, but lost to the Portuguese champions Benfica. Real Madrid had actually lost a match in the competition before that, though: in the 1955-56 quarter-finals Partizan Belgrade won their second leg 3-0 ... but Real had already won the first leg 4-0, so went through on aggregate. They also lost individual games to AC Milan (1955-56), Rapid Vienna (1956-57), Vasas (of Hungary, in 1957-58), Atletico Madrid (1958-59) and Nice (1959-60) during their five-year winning streak.

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