- January 15 down the years
Thorpedo shows his classThe sporting events of January 15 down the years
A long streak of water called Ian Thorpe became the youngest male swimmer to win an individual gold medal at the World Championship. He was 15 years 94 days old when he took the 400 metres freestyle in his native Australia. Two days after helping Grant Hackett win the 4x200 metre relay, he beat Hackett into second place and did so again in 2001 and 2003. In Thorpe's absence, Hackett won the 400 at last in 2005.
The first Super Bowl was a spectacle but not much of a contest. The best of the AFL weren't quite ready for the best of the NFL. At the Los Angeles Coliseum, Kansas City Chiefs were only 14-10 down at half-time, but then Green Bay scored three touchdowns, two of them by Elijah Pitts. and won 35-10. Their quarterback Bart Starr was voted MVP in this Super Bowl and the next.
Twickenham's first international match began with a bang. Wales kicked off and the ball reached England's famous fly-half Adrian Stoop. Instead of kicking to touch, he ran with it. When he got the ball back from a loose scrum, it went through four pairs of hands before winger Fred Chapman dived over in the corner. He'd been playing international rugby for 75 seconds. Soon afterwards, he added a penalty goal. Bert 'Barney' Solomon also scored a try on his debut, running 40 yards to go in under the posts and give Chapman an easy conversion. Reggie Gibbs and Jim Webb scored tries at the other end, but Wales couldn't kick their goals. England's 11-6 win was their first over the Welsh in 12 years.
The 14-year-old Michelle Wie became the youngest golfer to play in a PGA tournament. A men's tournament, that is. When she took part in the Sony Open in Hawaii, she was only the fourth woman to appear in such an event. She missed the cut by just a single stroke, but we're still waiting for her to kick on from there.
The youngest world darts champion. When 21-year-old Jelle Klaasen beat fellow Dutchman Ray van Barneveld 7-5 in the final of the BDO Championship, he was the first qualifier to win the title since January 8, 1983. He led 2-0 and later won seven legs in a row to go 5-4 ahead. Van Barneveld, trying to win a fifth world title, got back to 5-5 but kept missing doubles. Normality returned the following year: Klaasen knocked out in the first round, Van Barneveld crossing over to play an epic against Phil Taylor on January 1.
Bernard Hopkins was born in Philadelphia. The violence in his youth culminated in a five-year stint in jail, and he took time out after losing his first professional fight. Given all that, it's no surprise that he didn't win a world middleweight title until he was a veteran. But talk about making up for lost time. He was champion for the next ten years, making 20 successful defences, the last when he was 40. All these are records for the division. His ability to inflict punishment while avoiding it kept him undefeated from 1993 to 2005, and he was 43 when he lost a split decision to Joe Calzaghe. At his peak, Hopkins beat Oscar de la Hoya, ended Felix Trinidad's unbeaten record, and won the world light-heavyweight title. The things a hungry fighter can do.
Stacey Hillyard became the first woman to make a century break in competitive snooker, compiling 114 in a league match in Bournemouth.
Ben Ainslie won the Laser world title in a year which saw him voted ISAF World Sailor of the Year for the first time.
A few days after his 42nd birthday, big George Foreman climbed another rung on his way back up to the world heavyweight title. His opponent had once been a Big White Hope but hadn't fought for 2½ years. Big Gerry Cooney had fought an iconic fight with Larry Holmes on June 11, 1982. But he was 33 by now and didn't seem interested in boxing. Still, he didn't box for long. As soon as Foreman hit him a few times in the second round, he went down twice and stayed there. It was his last fight, if you can call it that. Foreman lost a couple himself before fighting for a version of the title on November 5, 1994.
Barry John had just kicked eight points in Wales' 12-3 win at Twickenham when TV presenter Eamonn Andrews appeared with his big red book and took him away to record This Is Your Life.
The BDO world title is the easier one to win, but if you win it this well...Ted Hankey beat Ronnie Baxter 6-0 in the final, finishing with the maximum checkout: 170.
Ian Stewart was born in Birmingham but competed for Scotland. Confident in his fast finish, he toyed with the 5000 metres field at the 1969 European Championship before haring away to the gold medal. The following year, he sprinted to victory in the same event at the Commonwealth Games. At the 1972 Olympics, the pace picked up earlier than he liked, but his bronze medal behind Lasse Viren was no disgrace. He'd lost some of his pace by the time he finished seventh behind Viren at the 1976 Games, but the year before he'd become the last British man to win the world cross-country title. His brother Peter and sister Mary were also international runners.
The easy defence a world champion is allowed from time to time. In his first fight after ending Muhammad Ali's comeback, Joe Frazier kept his heavyweight title by stopping poor Terry Daniels in the fourth round. He destroyed the equally outclassed Ron Stander in May. Ideal preparation for meeting George Foreman on January 22, 1973...?
Janusz Kusociński was born. One of Poland's best-loved heroes, and not just in sport. At the 1932 Olympics, he powered away on the last lap to win the 10,000 metres, a brief break in Finland's dominance. Two years later, at the inaugural European Championships, he beat them again, but this time finished second to a Frenchman in the 5000 metres. When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, he worked for the resistance. Caught and tortured by the Gestapo, he refused to name any names, so they executed him in 1940. An athletics event is held every year in his honour.
Barrie-Jon Mather was born. The first Great Britain rugby league international to play for England at union, he won only one cap in the 15-man version, a famously excruciating defeat on April 11, 1999. His only claim to fame is his height. A 6' 7' centre, he and Matt Banahan are the tallest backs to play for England. Mather helped Wigan win the Challenge Cup in 1994 and Great Britain beat Australia in the opening match of the 1995 World Cup, but he was kept out of the Final by class acts Paul Newlove and Gary Connolly.
YE Yang was born in South Korea. He became USPGA golf champion in 2009, holding his nerve to win by three shots from Tiger Woods, who lost a remarkable record. This was the first time in 15 Majors that he lost after being in the lead going into the last round.