• December 13 down the years

Radcliffe gets it right

The sporting events of December 13 down the years
Paula Radcliffe, a devastating distance runner on her day © Getty Images

Paula Radcliffe's first major title, if you can call it that: the European cross-country title. As always, she set a fast pace from the start, but coming into the last kilometre she had Fernanda Ribeiro of Portugal on her tail, the Olympic 10,000 metre champion with her famous sprint finish. But after Radcliffe's disappointment at the European Championships on the track, she'd tweaked her training, taking longer periods of rest. The benefits were there to see as she kept up the merciless rhythm and Ribeiro faded to fourth. In 2001 and 2002, Radcliffe won the real thing, the World Cross-Country Championships.

American sprinter Tim Montgomery was banned for two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for his involvement with the controversial sports nutrition company BALCO. Montgomery hadn't failed a drug test, but the CAS decided the circumstantial evidence was overwhelming. His 100 metres world record was struck from the books and he later admitted having taken human growth hormone before the 2000 Olympics. By then he was in jail for money laundering, a case that implicated his former partner Marion Jones.

At the European Short Course Championships in Sheffield, Britain's Mark Foster broke the world record for the 50 freestyle twice in the day, retaining his title in 21.31.

This being America, the biggest crowd for any basketball game anywhere turned out for a college game. 78,129 filled Ford Field in Detroit to watch Kentucky beat Michigan State 79-74.

During Bridgend's match with the touring All Blacks, the great Welsh full-back JPR Williams needed eight stitches in his face after an appalling stamp by All Black prop John Ashworth, who claimed it wasn't deliberate even though he brought his foot down twice. JPR, an orthopaedic surgeon, was glad his cheekbone had already been broken before: 'Bones always grow back stronger. If I hadn't, my cheekbone would have gone.' His own father stitched him up and he came back on. In a book on the tour, New Zealand writer Wallace Reyburn claimed Ashworth 'never put a foot wrong', like a schoolboy trying to shock. Bless.

In basketball, the Detroit Pistons beat the Denver Nuggets in the highest-scoring game in NBA history. In the second period of overtime, Kelly Tripucka scored all 12 of Detroit's points. He was keen to get it over with, he said: 'The game lasted so long, we were wondering if we could find a place to eat after the game.' Denver forced a third period of overtime by tying the score at 171-all, then sank the last basket of the game, but the Pistons held on to win 186-184.

One of Britain's hardest-working boxers fought his last fight. At the age of 36, Ted 'Kid' Lewis stopped the highly rated and aptly named Welshman Johnny Basham in three rounds. Lewis had started life as Gershon Mendeloff but had to change his name like so many other Jewish boxers of his day. In a confused situation around the time of the First World War, he kept winning and regaining the world welterweight title from Jack Britton. They fought each other 20 times in all, which was normal for those days: Ted Kid's last fight was his 300th! Some of his opponents had reason to be grateful to him: he was the first well-known boxer to use a mouthguard.

Like Britain on December 10 1978, Argentina ran into John McEnroe in a Davis Cup final held in the USA, and a great performance by José Luis Clerc wasn't quite enough. He beat Roscoe Tanner easily, then took the doubles into a fifth set and did the same with his singles match against McEnroe.

The smallest crowd for any world championship fight in boxing. When Johnny Reagan challenged 'Nonpareil' Jack Dempsey for his middleweight title, the fight was staged on a barge in Long Island Sound, New York State. Fought to a finish with bare fists, the bout had been in progress for 14 rounds spread over an hour when the barge began to submerge under the tide. Contestants and spectators jumped ashore and made for a boat house 20 miles away, where Dempsey and Reagan banged away at each other for another sixteen rounds before they learned the police were on their way. They continued their summit meeting in a clearing in the woods as the snow came down, until Reagan was eventually too shattered to carry on. A grand total of 25 people had watched the entertainment on offer.

The first international rugby match staged in Ireland attracted a few hundred spectators ('many amongst them being representatives of the gentler sex') to the Leinster cricket ground in Dublin. Ireland fielded eight new caps, England eleven, including Charles Clark, who scored the opening try in the first half and wasn't capped again. Edward Kewley scored the other try, converted by AW Pearson, and England won by that goal to nil. Ireland's Abraham Cronyn 'was so roughly used by his opponents that two Jerseys were torn from his back.' The match was played on the same day as the first 15-a-side Oxford v Cambridge match.

As tennis players, Steve Denton and Johan Kriek had only one real weapon each. A big serve for Denton, speed around the court by Kriek. For the second year in a row, speed beat serve in the final of the Australian Open. In 1981 Denton had taken a set off Kriek; this time he served too many double faults and lost in 99 minutes on Kriek's third match point. The South African, who'd just become a US citizen, was 24 at the time and told journalists he had six years left in which to win Wimbledon. He didn't.

The fastest man in water, give or take. At the European Short-Course Championships, Armaury Leveaux of France clocked 44.94 seconds for 100 metres freestyle, more than two seconds faster than the long-course world record. Thanks to the controversial go-faster bodysuits, several other world bests were set at the same championships.

Hans-Henrik Ørsted was born in Denmark. A top pursuit cyclist, he was world professional champion three times in the 1980s.

Barnes and Bradman put on 405 in a Test.

Roy Fredericks scored a dazzling 169 versus Australia, a century in 71 balls.

Test debuts for Merv Hughes, Bruce Reid, Geoff Marsh.