- August 5 down the years
Gold for Murray and Gunnell
Andy Murray wins Olympic gold. Less than a month after losing the Wimbledon final to Roger Federer (July 8), Murray found himself facing the Swiss once more on Centre Court. Decked out in Team GB blue rather than the All England Club's prescribed all-white, and with an unabashedly partisan crowd behind him and the sun shining, Murray raced through the first two sets as Federer struggled in the aftermath of his epic semi-final showdown with eventual bronze-medallist Juan Martin del Potro. The 17-time grand slam champion lifted his game in the third set but Murray was relentless, refusing to allow Federer back into the match - he had Federer beaten in every department before completing a 6-2 6-1 6-4 victory in style with an ace. The tears of his Wimbledon defeat gave way to unconfined joy, and the triumph inspired his grand slam breakthrough at the US Open little more than a month later (September 11).
Sally Gunnell (born July 29 1966) won Olympic gold. Commonwealth champion at 100 metres hurdles in 1986, she won only silver in 1990, but by then she'd already stepped up in distance - and moved into world class. At those 1990 Games, she won the 400 metres hurdles ahead of Australia's Olympic champion Debbie Flintoff-King, who was trying to win the Commonwealth title for the third time in a row. Today in Barcelona, Sandra Farmer-Patrick led near the end. She'd finished last in the 1984 final while representing Jamaica. Now she was in US colours and one of the favourites. But her hurdling technique was never one of the best. She stuttered at the seventh, and Gunnell took the lead at the ninth before pulling away to win by three metres. Our Sal set a world record in winning the World Championships the following year (August 19), then added the Commonwealth and European titles in 1994.
Harry Whitlock succeeded fellow Brit Tommy Green (August 3 1932) as Olympic champion in the 50 kilometre walk. Whitlock survived a fit of vomiting near the end to win by well over a minute. His time of 4 hours 30 minutes 41.4 seconds broke Green's inaugural Olympic record by nearly half an hour.
Jesse Owens didn't need quite so long to win his third individual gold of the Games. By now, after winning the 100 metres (August 3) and an epic long jump (4 August), he was a firm favourite of a crowd that was supposed to be against black athletes. Today Owens ran the 200 metres final in 20.7, a fast time on a cinder track in the rain, finishing well clear of US team mate Mack Robinson, whose brother Jackie was the famous barrier-breaking baseball player (born January 31 1919).
Another well-known Jackie was in action today. Scotland's Jackie Stewart won a Formula One race for the last time. Starting from pole, he held off his Tyrrell team mate François Cevert to win the German Grand Prix. It was Stewart's 27th race win, a record at the time. He could afford to coast the next three races and still regain the world title without taking part in the last, the US Grand Prix, which would have been his 100th. He finished his career on 99 after withdrawing from the race when Cevert, heart throb and obvious successor, was killed in practice the day before.
Egyptian weightlifter Khadr Sayed El-Touni was so strong that the world record he set in winning the Olympic middleweight gold medal, 387.5 kilos, was more than the winner of the light-heavyweight division.
Irish long jumper Peter O'Connor set a world record that lasted very nearly 20 years. His leap of 7.61 metres in Dublin lasted as an Irish record until 1990! At the 1906 Olympics, O'Connor jumped no further than 7.02, enough for a controversial silver medal (April 27). So he won gold in the triple jump instead (April 30).
Legendary lock forward John Eales scored his last points for Australia. His final total of 173 (worth 174 nowadays) is still the record for a forward in international rugby union. One of the greatest lineout jumpers of all time, the first player to pick up two World Cup winners' medals, he was handy with his boot, kicking 31 conversions. Today he landed the last of his 34 penalty goals, an injury-time sickener for the All Blacks, who lost 24-23 in Wellington. Eales was only an incidental kicker by then, playing another 11 Test matches without scoring.
David Graham became the second Australian, after Jim Ferrier in 1947, to win the US PGA. He scored steadily and well in the first three rounds, then uncorked a 65 in the fourth. It would have been 63, equalling the record for any Major, if he hadn't double-bogeyed the last hole! This forced him into a play-off with Ben Crenshaw, and Graham did well to recover his nerve and sink two missable putts before birdying the third hole to win the title. Crenshaw had now finished runner-up in four Majors, including the last two, and he had to wait another five years before winning one (April 15). Meanwhile Graham won the US Open in 1981.
The youngest swimmer to break a world record in a men's event. Stephen Holland of Australia was 15 years 66 days old when he set two world bests in the same race, at 800 metres and 1500. Didn't so much set as obliterate them. His 800 metres time was more than six seconds faster than the world record, and he reached 1500 metres in 15 minutes 37.80, nearly 15 seconds better than the previous best. Holland broke both records the following month, again in Brisbane, again in a single race.