• January 7 down the years

This boy was born to race

The sporting events of January 7 down the years
Lewis Hamilton: The youngest world champion © Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton was born. He tried very hard not to become the youngest Formula One champion of all time, but couldn't quite manage it. He succeeded beyond Kimi Raikkonen's wildest dreams in 2007. Leading by 17 points with two races to go, Hamilton spun off in the first and picked up only two points in the last. Raikkonen took all 20 and won the title by a single point. In 2008, Hamilton slipped to sixth during the last race of the season, the Brazilian Grand Prix on November 2, but nicked the title from Felipe Massa when Timo Glock ran out of grip at the death. Hamilton came within a couple of bends of losing consecutive titles to two different Ferrari drivers by a combined total of one point! He'd started 2007 in overdrive. In his debut season in F1, he set a record by finishing on the podium in each of his first nine races. He was only 22 when he won his first Grand Prix. In 2009, a year when most teams struggled with new regulations, he won two races and finished fifth in the championship behind Jenson Button (born January 19, 1980). He was succeeded by Sebastian Vettel as the youngest world champion, who was 23 years, 133 days - 168 days younger than Hamilton when he won the drivers' championship in 2010. 1994
Mystery man Arturo Garcia Mayan set a bizarre record by failing to finish his only round as a professional boxer - which happened to be in a world title fight! Alex Sanchez stopped him almost immediately to retain his WBO minimumweight title, and little Arturo wasn't heard of again.

Caster Semenya was born. An 18-year-old girl running 800 metres in 1 minute 55.45 is something out of the dark 1980s. Suspicions had been raised before the World Championships, and the South African federation gave her a gender test, then pretended they hadn't and ignored a request from their team doctor to withdraw her from the event. Her coach resigned but she was allowed to keep her gold medal. And she returned to competition in July 2010 after the IAAF cleared her to run as a woman.

The first Heineken Cup final, the Champions League of rugby union, attracted only 20,000 people to Cardiff Arms Park. They witnessed an inaugural thriller. Adrian Davies kept Cardiff in it with six penalty goals, the last in the last minute of normal time - but Toulouse scored the tries, through Thomas Castaignède and Jérôme Cazalbou. The impish Castaignède also dropped a goal, and Christophe Deylaud kicked eight points, including the penalty right at the end of extra-time which won the match 21-18.

Howard Marshall achieved the rare feat of scoring three tries in his only international match - for the losing side. At Cardiff Arms Park, England scored four tries but converted only one. Wales scored three, two by the brilliant Arthur Gould (January 9, 1897), to recover from 11-0 and 11-7 down but were still behind in the last minute. Then Billy Bancroft drop-kicked the first penalty goal in any international match. Marshall was the last player to score three tries in a match for England against Wales until February 3, 2001.

In swimming's World Championships, Hungarian breaststroker Norbert Rózsa equalled the 100 metres world record set by Britain's Adrian Moorhouse (born May 24, 1964) the previous year, then broke it by four hundredths of a second to win the gold medal. Rózsa was 18. The 26-year-old Moorhouse, the reigning Olympic champion, finished second and never won a world title. Italian world record holder Giorgio Lamberti set a Championship best in winning the 200 metres freestyle; Nicole Haislett set an American record in winning the 100 free; Sylvie Fréchette of Canada took the solo synchro title; and two Chinese women won their events: the all-conquering Gao Min (born September 7, 1970) in one-metre springboard diving, and Lin Li (China's first ever world swimming title) in the 400 IM, beating Australia's Hayley Lewis by 0.01 of a second.

Vasili Alekseyev was born in the USSR. The word 'icon' gets used a lot nowadays, including on these pages. Everyone's an icon now. But Alekseyev was an icon then, when it meant something. When he stood on the mat at the 1972 Olympics, he weighed 25 stone and had a belly and chin that belonged more to a sumo wrestler than the strongest man in the world. Then he started lifting those weights. He won the super-heavyweight gold by 30 kilos and retained the title in 1976. The first man to lift 500lbs in the jerk and 600k in total, he set more than 70 world records and won six world titles. The big lifters look a tad more athletic nowadays, but they're not so...iconic.

Leaving aside the occasional emigrant to America, Mate Parlov was the first East European boxer to become a world professional champion. Today he took the light-heavyweight title from Argentina's Miguel Ángel Cuello, who was making his first defence and believed some unfinished business was involved. At the 1972 Olympics, he'd given Parlov a walkover on his way to the gold medal. Here in Milan, he looked a touch flabby round the middle. Short and stocky, he had to keep coming forward onto Parlov's southpaw lead. In the ninth round, an incredibly soft left hand put him down for a long count. It was Cuello's only defeat as a pro and he didn't fight again.

Josane Sigart was born in Brussels. Wimbledon doubles champion in 1932 (when she was also runner-up in the mixed) and losing finalist the year before.

Charley Jenkins was born. Olympic champion at 400 metres and 4x400 relay in 1956. His son, Charles junior, known as 'Chip', won gold as a reserve in the 4x400 in 1992.