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The most medals, and losing a love set but winning

Steven Lynch March 1, 2010
Michael Phelps has 14 Olympic golds to his name © Getty Images

In a quiz we were asked who has won the most Olympic medals, and I confidently put Michael Phelps - only to be told this was wrong. What's the right answer? asked Theo Meynell
Michael Phelps has won 14 gold medals at the Olympics, which is easily the record, but his overall total of 16, when his two additional bronze medals are added, does indeed leave him trailing. The overall competitor with the most Olympic silverware is the Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina, who won a total of 18 medals - nine gold, five silver and four bronze - between 1956 and 1964. The only others to have won nine golds, apart from Latynina, are the athletes Paavo Nurmi and Carl Lewis, and another swimmer in Mark Spitz. Some lists include Ray Ewry, who won eight gold medals in the standing-jump athletics events in 1900, 1904 and 1908, and won two more events at the "Intercalated" Games of 1906, which were staged to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the start of the modern Olympics but are not now regarded as official by the International Olympic Committee..

Who has scored most goals in the FA Cup? Is it Ian Rush? asked Andy Moore
Ian Rush scored 44 goals in the FA Cup, the most by anyone in the 20th century, but the overall leader is the Notts County footballer (and Nottinghamshire cricketer) Harry Cursham, who scored 49 (one of them in the fourth qualifying round, so 48 in the tournament proper). Cursham won eight England caps, scoring five goals, including a hat-trick in what turned out to be his final match, against Ireland in February 1884.

Has any tennis player ever won a Grand Slam singles title after losing the first set of the final 6-0? asked Neil Birch

Gaston Gaudio: A clay court scrapper © Getty Images

The only occasion that anyone has done this came quite recently - in 2004, when the unseeded Gaston Gaudio lost the first set of the French Open final 6-0 to Guillermo Coria, but went on to win in five sets. There is one other arguable instance - in 1898 the French Championships were won by Paul Ayme, who beat Paul Lebreton in five sets after not winning a game in the first one. However, most record books don't count the French Championships as a tennis major until 1925, at which point it was opened up to people who were not members of French clubs (before than it had been almost entirely a domestic occasion, although the very first winner in 1898 was an Englishman). No woman has ever won a Grand Slam singles title after losing the first set 6-0. Not many more people have won a Grand Slam singles title after losing any set in the final 6-0: the Titanic survivor Dick Williams did so at the US Championships in 1916 (losing a love set to Bill Johnston), Bob Falkenburg managed it at Wimbledon in 1948 (against John Bromwich), while at the Australian Championships Merv Rose lose a love set to Rex Hartwig before winning the 1954 final, as did Rod Laver to Roy Emerson before winning in 1962. Among the ladies, Steffi Graf won the US Open in 1995 despite losing the second set 6-0 to Monica Seles, while Nelly Landry (in 1948, to Shirley Fry), Sue Barker (1976, to Renata Tomanova) and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (1998, to Seles again) all won the French Championship despite losing a love set in the final. One might also add Jean Borotra (1924 men's singles) and Jeanne Mathey (1912 women's singles), who won the French Championships in the days before they were opened up to outsiders.

The man of the match in the rugby league Challenge Cup wins the Lance Todd Trophy. Was Mr Todd a famous player? asked Richard Carson
Lance Todd was indeed a rugby league player, originally in his native New Zealand and later for Wigan, for whom he scored 127 tries in the years leading up to the First World War. But Todd is remembered more as a great manager, notably for Salford, who he inspired to their only Challenge Cup victory, at Wembley in 1938. They also won three league titles under his command during the 1930s (they have won it only twice since). Todd was killed in a car accident in 1942, aged 68, and when rugby league resumed after the war it was decided to name the man of the match award in the Challenge Cup final in his honour. The first winner was Billy Stott of Wakefield Trinity in 1946. It has been award annually ever since: Sean Long, of St Helens, is the only man to have won it three times.

Who has finished as runner-up in the most golf majors without ever winning one? asked Phil Hayman

Colin Montgomerie found a major win elusive © Getty Images

The answer here is none other than Scotland's own Colin Montgomerie, who has finished second (or joint second) in no fewer than five major championships without ever quite winning one. His second places came at the US Opens of 1994 and 1997 (behind Ernie Els both times, the first one after a play-off), the US PGA in 1995 (after a play-off with Steve Elkington), the British Open in 2005 (behind Tiger Woods), and the 2006 US Open (behind Geoff Ogilvy). Four other men have been runners-up in a major on four occasions without ever winning one: the American Harry Cooper (between 1927 and 1938), Bruce Crampton of Australia (four times in the 1970s, finishing behind Jack Nicklaus on all four occasions), another American in Doug Sanders (who was twice second in the British Open behind Nicklaus), and Macdonald Smith, an American-based Scot, between 1910 and 1932.

Who has held an official athletics world record for the longest time? asked Jane Maybank
By my reckoning this record changed hands last year, assuming we are talking about established athletics events (by which I mean the ones contested at the Olympics, and records officially ratified by the IAAF, which was established in 1912). In July 1983, Jarmila Kratochvilova of Czechoslovakia set what is still the women's 800-metre world record (one minute 53.28 seconds) in a race in Munich - so that record has currently stood for four months short of 27 years. The previous-longest was Jesse Owens's long-jump record of 8.13 metres, which lasted from May 1935 until August 1960. Bob Beamon's world long-jump record (8.90m) survived for almost 23 years, from October 1968 to August 1991, when Mike Powell set the current record. This doesn't include the women's marathon, in which Violet Percy held a semi-official "world-best" time from 1927 to 1964 (the IAAF did not recognise marathon world records until 2003, owing to the differing nature of most marathon courses).

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