• October 23 down the years

Frazier & Foreman clinch gold

Joe Frazier won Olympic gold despite fighting with a broken hand © Getty Images

Kismet or what? Joe Frazier and George Foreman won their Olympic gold medals in the same division on the same date.

In 1964, Frazier was picked as the USA's heavyweight boxer only when big Buster Mathis broke a bone in his hand. So it was ironic when Smokin' Joe broke his thumb during the Olympic tournament. If he hadn't, he would have won the final more easily. Germany's Hans Huber wasn't in the same class as Vadim Yemelyanov, whose corner threw in the towel when some of Frazier's trademark left hooks knocked their man down twice. But in the final, Joe had to box carefully, and both boxers were relieved: Frazier to win a split decision, Huber to escape unhurt. Frazier went on to one of the most successful pro careers. He beat Mathis on his way to winning the world heavyweight title, then defended it against Muhammad Ali (March 8 1971) and Foreman...

...who went into the 1968 Olympic final with both thumbs intact. So he was free to heap destruction on his Soviet opponent in the final. Foreman was only 19 but he was already Big George, with wrecking-ball fists. Jonas Cepulis, balding and busy, tried to jab and move, but Foreman's own jab was faster and harder. And there was no comparison between the two right hands. Cepulis was bleeding from the nose and mouth in the first round and given a standing count in the second before the referee stopped the fight before the end of the round. Foreman added a cheesy touch by waving tiny American flag on a stick. After turning pro, he faced Frazier for the world title in 1973 (January 22).

Also at these 1968 Olympics, famous gymnast Věra Čáslavská retained her all-round title - and became the heroine of the Games, and not just in her own country. After signing a manifesto which opposed the USSR's influence in Czechoslovakia, she was forced into hiding when Soviet tanks rolled into Prague. In Mexico, she was short of training but won the all-round gold medal by a wide margin. In the final event, the floor exercises, she showed she had nothing to learn from George Foreman when it came to cheese, performing her routine to the music of the Mexican Hat Dance. Audiences are easy to please sometimes. By the end of the Games, Čáslavská had won four golds and two silvers to go with the three gold and two silver from 1964 - and a husband. She married former Olympic silver medallist Josef Odloźil (October 21 1964) in Mexico City.

At those 1964 Olympics, Čáslavská had won her first all-round title by beating Soviet legend Larisa Latynina, who added silver to her two golds in the event. Latynina won six medals in Tokyo, two of them today, including gold on the floor. This gave her a final total of 18, an Olympic record for any sport. It still stands despite the efforts of a swimmer called Phelps (August 17 2008).

For those 1964 Games, host country Japan were allowed to add judo to the curriculum, even though they were just about the only country to take it seriously at the highest level. So that was four gold medals in the bag. Well, almost. Japan hoped for four but feared only three. Giant Dutchman Anton Geesink had won the world title in the open class four years earlier and was very much a threat. Here in Tokyo, Japan's entry Akio Kaminaga threw Thomas Ong in only four seconds. But Ong was a Filipino who'd just lost in six seconds to an Irishman. And even though Geesink's quickest win looks altogether more impressive on paper (a 12-second demolition of Australia's Theodore Boronovskis in the semi-final), the truth is he and Kaminaga were the only contenders. And their final lasted longer than their earlier bouts, Geesink winning with a kesa-gatame, a sash hold, in the 10th minute. Japan did win all three of the other judo events.

In bowls, the inaugural World Championships were held outdoors in the Sydney suburb of Kyeemagh. Britain's David Bryant began assembling the greatest career in the sport by beating New Zealand's Phil Skoglund in the singles final. Already considered the best player in the world, Bryant proved it from the start, leading 12-1 after eight ends. Skoglund's mini-recovery made the score 16-5 after fourteen - but it really was mini, and Bryant won the last five ends to take the title 21-5. He won it for a record third time 22 years later (February 14).

Love-him-or-loath-him genius David Campese became the first rugby player to win 100 caps for Australia. In a friendly against Italy in Padua, a short drive from where Campese's dad was born, Australia led only 13-8 at half-time before pulling away to win 40-18. Matt Burke kicked four penalty goals and converted all four tries - but Campese didn't score any of them. He'd slowed down by now, and managed only one in his last 13 internationals (June 29). That was his 64th, a world record that lasted until 2006 (May 14). He won one more cap, in a win in Wales in December. Here in Padua, Italy's Argentinian fly-half Diego Domínguez scored in all four ways. One of each: try, conversion, penalty, and drop goal.

On the same day in 2003, another foreign-born player scored in all four ways for the losing side. In a World Cup match in Townsville, Queensland, New Zealand-born fly-half Andy Miller scored all of Japan's points in a 41-13 defeat by Fiji, who scored six tries. One of Fiji's four penalties was kicked by Miller's opposite number Waisale Serevi, a dazzling Sevens player but frustrating at the 15-man game, who was winning his last cap, 14 years after his first.

Even after the Campese era, Australia were too strong for Wales in the 1999 World Cup. They were away from home, at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, but they opened the scoring after only five minutes. Wales tried to run the ball from their own 22, but it came back on Australia's side, and Joe Roff's inside pass set up a try for scrum-half George Gregan. Matt Burke's touchline conversion put the Wallabies 6-0 up, and all Wales had to offer was the boot of Neil Jenkins. He kicked three penalty goals to take his total to 263 points for the calendar year, still an international record. Thanks to Jenkins, Australia led only 10-9 at half-time, but they scored two more tries, by winger Ben Tune from Stephen Larkham's kick-through and Gregan again near the end. Burke converted both to make the final score 24-9 and send Australia into a semi-final with South Africa (October 30), who shattered a shattered England (October 30).

British runner Geoff Smith came agonisingly close to winning the New York Marathon. Literally agonising. He collapsed after the finishing line, while Rod Dixon was elated enough to stay on his feet. Smith went ahead after 15 miles and built up what looked an unbeatable lead. But he wavered in the last two miles. Dixon was a New Zealander who'd won bronze in the 1500m at the Olympic Games eleven years earlier. He was 33 by now, but he lived up to his boast of winning the race at his first attempt, coming through to beat Smith by just nine seconds. When Smith got his breath back, he consoled himself with his fastest ever time: 2 hours 9 minutes 8 seconds, which broke the British record set by Ian Thompson at the 1974 Commonwealth Games. It took a world record to beat it (October 21). Norway's Grete Waitz had set three world records at the New York Marathon (October 26) and another one in London this year (April 17), but today 2 hours 27 minutes was enough to win the race for the fifth time.

A crushing end to the Solheim Cup for Europe's golfers. At the Greenbrier in West Virginia, they were level with the USA after the first two days. No surprise, with a team that included Annika Sörenstam, Laura Davies, Helen Alfredsson, Alison Nicholas, Catrin Nilsmark, and Liselotte Neumann. But their opponents were even stronger. All ten of the American team were major winners, and eight of them were winners today - this after Alfredsson won one of the early matches against Betsy King. The 13-7 defeat cost Europe the Cup they'd won in 1992 (October 4).