- August 18 down the years
Idowu cracks it at last
At the age of 30, Phillips Idowu finally got it right in a major outdoor competition. Gutted at losing Olympic gold the previous year (August 21), he turned the tables on Nélson Évora at the World Championships. Phillips set a new personal best of 17.73 metres to succeed the Portuguese as triple jump champion. He didn't look especially overjoyed at receiving the gold medal from world record holder Jonathan Edwards.
Britain ruled the cycling track at the Beijing Olympics. Today the mighty Bradley Wiggins added gold in the team pursuit to the one he won in the individual event two days earlier. The quartet of Wiggins, Ed Clancy, Paul Manning, and Geraint Thomas beat Denmark in the final by a hefty 6.7 seconds. They led from start to finish and clocked 3 minutes 53.314 seconds to break the world record they set in their semi-final.
In track and field at the same Games, Yelena Isinbayeva retained her title in the pole vault. As in 2004, she set a world record (August 21), this time of 5.05 metres, a height she surpassed the following year (August 28).
Angelo Taylor became one of the very few athletes to regain an Olympic title. The 400 metre hurdles champion of 2000 led an American one-two-three, finishing well ahead of the favourite Kerron Clement.
Kenya won a women's event for the first time, through Pamela Jelimo in the 800 metres, with team mate Janeth Jepkosgei second.
Irving Saladino became the first Panamanian to win an Olympic gold medal in any sport, with a very mediocre long jump of 8.34 metres, the shortest winning distance in 36 years.
And an equally average throw of 64.74 metres made Stephanie Brown-Trafton the first American woman to win the discus since Lilian Copeland in 1932.
John Conteh's last serious attempt to regain the world light-heavyweight title. After failing to take the WBC title from Mate Parlov in 1978 (June 17), he came equally close here in Atlantic City against the latest champion Matthew Saad Mohammed. The fight followed a pattern common to so many in Conteh's career, with his opponent suffering a cut eye after a head butt (check out Chris Finnegan on May 21, 1974). And this time there was a similar controversy to the battle with Parlov, with Conteh's trainer complaining that Mohammed's corner had used an illegal cement to stop the bleeding. Round after round, the cut took a minute or two to re-open, while Conteh jabbed at it and the champion threw bombs. Conteh was down twice in the 14th round, and the points verdict was unanimous, although Mohammed was wearing an eye patch after the fight. He gave Conteh a rematch the following year, but JC's heart wasn't in it any more and he lost in four rounds, then retired after one more fight.
Very few motorcyclists have ever won three races at the same Grand Prix meeting. The great Mike Hailwood (died March 23 1981) was the first. Today he won the 250, 350, and 500cc in East Germany. He led a British one-two-three in the 500, ahead of Derek Minter and Alan Shepherd, and won the world title easily in that class as well as finishing second in the 350.
The last time tug-of-war was included at the Olympic Games. Don't scoff. It's a serious sport, requiring teeth-gritting determination and sinews of steel. And it brought Britain two gold medals, including one today. The eight-man team pulled Denmark over the line twice, in 28 seconds then in half that time. Two of the winning Brits were 42 (Fred Humphreys and Edwin Mills), three others over 38. Humphreys, Mills, and John Shepherd had also won gold in 1908 and silver in 1912.
Stirling Moss won the Pescara Grand Prix. It had the longest circuit of any World Championship race: 16 miles on a road with two four-mile straights. The opening half of the course climbed and twisted through villages with level crossings and dangerous corners. Moss, brilliant in any kind of race, averaged a death-defying 96mph in his Vanwall. He took a fraction under three hours, beating the great Juan Manuel Fangio by more than three minutes, with two other Maseratis in third and fourth.
A world record in swimming was broken at last - on the 17th anniversary of the day it was set. At the European Championships in 1987, the East Germans clocked 7 minutes 55.47 seconds for the 4x200 metres freestyle relay. At the Olympic Games today, an American quartet touched in 7:53.42.
All-time great Gene Sarazen (born February 27, 1902) was only 20 when he became the first golfer to win two majors in the same season. He was the reigning US Open champion (July 15) when he won the US PGA. It was a hybrid tournament at the time, starting with two rounds of strokeplay before turning into a 64-man matchplay event. Sarazen won a tight final. Level with Emmett French at the end of the first round, he won at the 15th hole of the second. He's still the youngest winner of the PGA.