- November 3 down the years
Senna wins a farce of a race
Ayrton Senna won the shortest Formula One race of all time. The Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide was the last of the season. Already assured of retaining the drivers' title, Senna started on pole and finished less than 25 minutes later. The race was scheduled for 81 laps but reduced to 16 by torrential rain (the official result was taken from the end of the 14th). Britain's Nigel Mansell came second but couldn't take his place on the podium: he bruised an ankle when he slammed into a wall after skidding through a particularly deep pool of water. When the sodden farce ended, the track was littered with wrecks. According to Senna, the race should never have taken place: 'It was not a race, just a procession of people attempting to keep their cars on the road.' Mansell had already finished runner-up to Senna in the World Championship, quite a feat in a Williams which wasn't competitive until the second half of the season. The following year, it was ready from the start, with spectacular results ( August 16 ).
Two comeback kings boxed in the same ring. But not against each other.
In Chiba in Japan, George Foreman faced Crawford Grimsley, who was 18 years younger and unbeaten in 20 pro fights but not much good. So even a flabby 47-year-old could keep him at bay with his 'trademark belly-bump'. The fight was for one of those B numbers attached to so-called world heavyweight titles. Two fights earlier, big George had won the WBA and IBF belts 20 years after his world title bout ( November 5). Then it was the vacant WBU title the following year ( April 22). Now he kept that gong and added the IBA's vacant title, whoever they were. Foreman opened a cut under Grimsley's eye in the ninth round on the way to winning a unanimous decision. 'Now that's over with,' said George, 'I'm going to eat 16 hamburgers and have sushi for dessert.' He had two more fights before retiring to eat full-time.
The classiest thing Foreman did here in Japan was lend his support to a boxer who he said 'did something very important today.' Tommy Morrison was once a big white hope who didn't match up to the hype. But at least the hope was there again tonight. More than a year after his last fight, a title defeat by Lennox Lewis ( October 7), Morrison went into a ring with a referee who was wearing surgical gloves: it was Tommy's first fight since being diagnosed HIV positive. He promised to stop boxing if he started bleeding, but his opponent Marcus Rhode was an inexperienced late replacement, and Morrison knocked him down three times in the first two minutes. But it didn't lead to a resumption of Tommy's career. The HIV results kept him out of boxing for more than ten years.
In rugby union, Australia had just lost twice at home to New Zealand. But both games were close, and the Wallabies had won the first match of that series. So they were clearly formidable opposition. So what was England's cunning plan against them at Twickenham? Picking five new caps, including both half-backs. Australia's scrum-half was making his debut too, but whereas Nick Farr-Jones went on to win the World Cup in 1991, injuries reduced Nigel Melville to only 13 matches for England. He was made captain on his debut today, but had to lead a team which didn't know each other. His fly-half Stuart Barnes was just as talented, later the leader of a dominant Bath team. But while Rob Andrew won 71 England caps, Barnes won ten. And today he was up against Mark Ella, the imaginative brain of this exciting Australian team, a link with one of the best set of backs they ever produced. Michael Lynagh later replaced Ella at fly-half and became one of the best of all time. Today he was at centre and winning only his second cap, but he scored a try and kicked seven points. David Campese was already a world star on the wing, big Roger Gould an excellent full-back, Andy Slack a wily centre and captain. England had try-scoring wingers in John Carleton and Rory Underwood, but their centres were no match for Slack and Lynagh; one of them, Rob Lozowski, was winning his only cap. This inexperienced England mishmash did well to hold on as long as they did, a Barnes penalty making the half-time score 3-3. But their tight forwards were being put through the mangle. Former Argentinian prop Enrique Rodríguez was a tractor in Australia's front row, and Steve Cutler dominated the line-out, where Nigel Redman was winning his first England cap and Jim Syddall his last. Australia's opening try by Ella might have been ruled out for 'crossing' by Slack, but they scored two others and should have won by more than 19-3. It was Australia's first international match of the tour, but there was already the feeling that a Grand Slam wasn't beyond these dashing Wallabies ( December 8).
More fireworks at Twickenham. A week earlier, Argentina had lost only 20-18 away to Ireland despite fielding nine new caps, their great fly-half Hugo Porta kicking 14 points. But he was 39 by now, and today he failed to score in an international match for the first time in ten years. England were simply too good and too ruthless. In every respect. Twelve minutes from the end, one of their forwards stamped on Federico Méndez when he was on the ground. When Méndez got up, he took his anger out on the nearest English chin, which belonged to the blameless Paul Ackford. Méndez was only 18 and still at school, but already strong enough to be a real force in the front row. Ackford was concussed and replaced, Méndez sent off in his second international. By then, Argentina were in disarray. England led 18-0 at half-time and ran riot after it, winning 51-0, a huge score for those days. Rory Underwood scored three tries, Jeremy Guscott two, while points machine Simon Hodgkinson converted all seven and kicked three penalty goals. Méndez was suspended for a month.
The first trans-sexual golfer to earn her card on the women's European Tour. Mianne Bagger was 37 by then. Born Michael Bagger in Denmark, she moved to Australia in 1979 and underwent a sex-change operation in 1995, then won the South Australian title three times. Replying to suggestions that her previous state gave her an unfair physical advantage, she pointed to the hormone therapy which left her with less testosterone than the average man. She was one of the shortest hitters in the women' game, she said. In 2005, her highest placing in Europe was joint 16th, and she finished 143rd on the earnings list. She won the pro-am event at the Nykredit Masters in 2006.
Scottish lightweight Jim Watt made the first defence of the WBC title he won in April. Like so many of his recent opponents, Robert Vásquez was carefully chosen. This was only his 26th pro fight, he'd lost four of them, and tonight's fight was in Glasgow, where Watt made all his world title defences. So it was no surprise when Vásquez lived down to expectations. His reach was too short and he was too inexperienced to cope with Watt's southpaw stance. He spent most of the fight trapped in a corner until the referee stopped it in the ninth round.
In their last Test series as a combined team, Great Britain's rugby league boys won one for the first time in 14 years. Today in Hull, they took a winning 2-0 lead by thrashing New Zealand 44-0. They were given a flying start by a try from their captain Jamie Peacock after only two minutes, and Leon Pryce doubled the lead after 12. GB led 16-0 at half-time and scored five of their eight tries in the second half, Pryce running 70 yards for his second with three minutes left. Kevin Sinfield kicked five of Britain's six goals.
The end of an era in tennis' Fed Cup. Conchita Martínez and Arantxa Sánchez Vicario had won the trophy five times for Spain and were hot favourites to make it six in their 10th final together. It was held on home territory in the Canary Islands, where they weren't expected to have any trouble with Slovakia. But then Sánchez Vicario strained a leg muscle and had to miss the second singles. Spain won the first, but Martínez didn't have it easy against the unsung Janette Husarová. Straight sets, yes - but only after Husarová missed a set point in a tiebreak. And Spain's third string wasn't strong enough. The left-handed Magui Serna was born in the Canaries, but home support couldn't stop her losing 6-2 6-1 to Daniela Hantuchová, who then played one of the matches of her career. Again Martínez won a tiebreak, an even tougher one at 10-8 - but instead of folding, Hantuchová was in for the long haul. She won the second set 7-5 and the match after nearly three and a half hours. This was Slovakia's only appearance in the final, and they'd effectively won it already: Serna had been so outclassed that Spain decided to replace her with Sánchez Vicario - and one day's extra rest couldn't heal that leg. Husarová won the first eleven games and served for the Cup at 6-0 5-0. This was Arantxa's 100th Fed Cup match, and she showed her old fighting spirit to snatch a couple of games, but Slovakia won 3-1 and the doubles match wasn't played.
In Tokyo, Korean runner Sohn Kee-Chung ran a marathon in 2 hours 26 minutes 42 to break the world record by only two seconds. When the previous best was set, in the same city the year before, Sohn had finished third, more than 12 minutes behind the winner. Today's mark lasted as a world record until 1947, when it was broken by another Korean. The gap was mainly due to the War, of course - but Sohn was good enough to win gold at the 1936 Olympics, when no-one really listened to his protests at being forced to compete for Japan (as 'Kitei Son'), who'd invaded his homeland.
Sohn's time would have won the New York Marathon in 1996 - if he'd been a woman. Anuţa Cătună of Romania finished in 2 hours 28 minutes 18 seconds. The men's race was won by Italy's Giacomo Leone in 2:09:54.