- August 4 down the years
Gold No. 1 for Lewis
Carl Lewis won the first of his nine Olympic gold medals. The 100 metres was thought to be his hardest event, and his US team mate Sam Graddy led with only 20m to go. But then Lewis produced an astonishing finish which took him nearly three yards clear. The bronze medal went to a relatively slim Canadian called Ben Johnson, who was much bigger at the next World Championships (August 30) and Olympic Games (September 24).
After his easy win in the 100 metres the day before, Jesse Owens had to pull out the stops in the Olympic long jump. On a famous day the previous year (May 25), he'd set six world records, give or take, in less than an hour - including an 8.13 metres in the long jump that lasted 25 years. But in these Berlin Olympics, he fouled his first two qualifying jumps and was grateful for some friendly advice from Luz Long, the Fatherland's great white hope. With his last jump, Owens reached the final by a single centimetre. There he had another scare when Long equalled his best jump, but then pulled away with the first Olympic jump over eight metres. The photo of the black man and the white man smiling as they chatted was one of the famous sporting images. Owens said you could melt down all his gold medals and they wouldn't begin to match the friendship he had with Long, who died in the Second World War. Owens completed the sprint double and went for a fourth gold on August 9.
While Owens was involved in the long jump, giant John Woodruff was administering another kick to the myth of Aryan supremacy by becoming the first black runner to win the 800 metres. The Nazis consoled themselves with Gisela Mauermayer's gold in the discus.
Surrey tore up the record books as they posted a world-record total of 386 for 40-over cricket in a crushing win over Glamorgan. The Lions racked up 386 for three and were able to cruise to 39-run win on Duckworth/Lewis, with Rory Hamilton-Brown producing a knock of 115 off 69 balls and Steven Davies adding 88 off 63. Mark Ramprakash also chipped in with 85 off 46 to take Surrey to their daunting target.
Byron Nelson won a golf tournament for the 11th time in a row. In taking the Canadian Open by four strokes, he set one of the sport's iconic records. Only Tiger Woods has come remotely close, winning a seventh in a row in 2007. Nelson's streak began at the Miami Four-Ball Championship, which he won with Harold 'Jug' McSpaden. During his eighth consecutive win, Nelson injured his back. He still finished 13 shots clear, but the spine seized up again after the final of the US PGA, in which he beat Sam Byrd 4 & 3. Nelson clung on through three more events before finishing fourth at the Memphis Open, by which time he could hardly stand and his slender frame was even more so after losing twelve pounds. He won 18 events that year, another record that still stands.
Wales sent out a weakened rugby team at Twickenham, but England's 62-5 win was still a bit of a surprise. Jonny Wilkinson converted seven of their nine tries, four of them by No.8 Nick Easter, who equalled the world record for a forward in an international match. Lawrence Dallaglio came on as a sub to score his 17th and last for England.
Wladimir Klitschko won Olympic gold. In a low-scoring super-heavyweight final, he outpointed the giant Tongan Paea Wolfgramm, who'd broken his wrist in the semi. Klitschko had a far more explosive fight with Wolfgramm when they met as professionals (March 18 2000).
Argentina's Juan Manuel Fangio became the oldest Formula One champion - by saving the best till last. He was 46 when a long pit stop at the German Grand Prix left him almost a minute behind the Ferraris of Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins. Over the next ten 14-mile laps, Fangio broke the lap record time and again before catching the Brits on the penultimate lap. Just this once, we'll use the word awesome. In the last two races of 1957, Fangio finished second to yet another British driver, Stirling Moss - so this win at the Nürburgring was his last in Formula One. It was his 24th, from only 51 Grands Prix, easily a record at the time. Fangio won all five of his world titles after turning 40.
Two competitors won Olympic gold medals after recovering from serious bodily adversity in their past. American swimmer Bill Smith, who won the 400 metres freestyle, had suffered from typhoid as a child. And Hungary's Károly Takács won the rapid-fire pistol event. Ten years earlier, when he was already a world champion, a grenade had destroyed his right hand. So he simply taught himself to shoot with the left. He retained his Olympic title in 1952.
Meanwhile flying Dutchwoman Fanny Blankers-Koen was winning her second gold medal at these Olympic Games. After an easy win in the 100 metres, she finished inches ahead of Britain's Maureen Gardner in the 80 metres hurdles. Blankers-Koen would surely have taken gold in the long jump on the same day - it was won with a distance 55 centimetres short of her world record - but she didn't enter that or the high jump (at which she also held the world record) because she was pregnant! So she settled for four gold medals in other events (August 7).
Another tight hurdles race won by another all-time star. Before becoming one of the most successful golfers of all time, Mildred 'Babe' Didriksen (born June 26 1911) won two events at these Los Angeles Olympics: the only athlete to win one in a throwing event and on the track. After setting an Olympic record in the javelin, she broke the world record in the 80 metres hurdles, recovering from a false start to pip poor Eve Hall, who was judged to have finished a few inches behind despite cutting her neck on the tape. Didriksen went on to finish second in a controversial high jump (August 7).