• January 31 down the years

Courier too hot for Edberg

The sporting events of January 31 down the years
Jim Courier took a dip in the Yarra to cool down © Getty Images

It was too hot for Stefan Edberg to wear the support he needed for his dodgy back. And the heat wilted his famous serve. So Jim Courier's brutal ground strokes helped him retain the Australian Open title. He'd beaten Edberg in the final the previous year, also in four sets.

The 17-year-old Martina Hingis retained the Australian Open singles trophy by beating Spain's Conchita Martínez in straight sets. Hingis won the event again the following year before losing the next three finals after that. Martinez's full first name is Immaculada Concepción.

Evgeny Kafelnikov won his second and last Grand Slam singles title by beating Sweden's Thomas Engqvist in four sets (the fourth in a tie-break) in the Australian Open after dropping the first.

Andy Murray lost his second Grand Slam final, with Roger Federer once again his conqueror in the Australian Open final. Murray looked superb in negotiating his way through to the final, but simply came up against a player at the top of his profession in Federer who won 6-3 6-4 7-6.

Jackie Robinson was born in Georgia and became one of the iconic sportsmen. When he made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, he was the first black man to play Major League baseball since the 1880s, bringing an end to segregation in the sport. In 1949, he became the first black player to be voted National League MVP. He played in six World Series, including 1955, when the Dodgers won the trophy for the first time after losing in the finals seven times. His brother Mack finished second to Jesse Owens in the 200 metres at the 1936 Olympics.

Bath became the first British club to win the Heineken Cup final, rugby union's Champions League. In Bordeaux, they trailed defending champions Brive at half-time. But Jon Callard scored all their points, including a try and the last-minute penalty which put them 19-18 ahead. Even then, Brive had chances. Christophe Lamaison kicked five penalties in the match - but he missed one now, and Lisandro Arbizu sent a drop goal wide.

Dinara Safina just couldn't win Grand Slam singles finals. Not that it's an easy thing to do against one of the Williams sisters. Today Serena beat her 6-0 6-3 in the Australian Open.

Chris Chataway was born in Dorset. One of the most talented also-rans in track and field. He paced Roger Bannister during the first sub four minute mile. He tripped over the kerb as Emil Zátopek ran away to win the 5,000 metres at the 1952 Olympics. He finished ahead of Zátopek but behind Vladimir Kuts at the European Championships two years later. But he did better in the rest of 1954. In a famous race at London's White City, he beat Kuts by a yard to break the world record in the 5,000. He was Commonwealth Games champion at three miles and the first BBC Sports Personality of the Year. He had the perfect surname for an MP. In his maiden speech in the Commons, he opposed British links with South Africa's Apartheid regime.

Jersey Joe Walcott was born Arnold Raymond Cream in New Jersey (naturally enough). A boxer with knockout fists and all the moves, he lost four world heavyweight title fights before finally winning the thing. A declining Joe Louis beat him twice, once on a smelly split decision, the other time after Walcott had knocked him down. Then Ezzard Charles beat him on points. That was three defeats in three consecutive fights, and Walcott didn't get another chance for two years - and then only because he lost to another contender, so Charles must have felt safe. Sure enough, he beat Walcott again, and that seemed to be that. After all, Jersey Joe was 37 years old. But four months later, in July 1951, Charles came back for some more sparring practice - and ran into a crash-barrier left hand in the seventh round. Walcott was the oldest man to win the title up to then. He beat Charles in a fourth fight, and looked set to do the same to Rocky Marciano, using that left hand to knock him down for the first time in his career and generally beat the salami out of him - until he moved the wrong way on the ropes and walked smack into a right hand that distorted his face. The old man retired, medals shining, after losing the rematch in the first round.

Jon Callard was ice-cool as Bath won the Heineken Cup against Brive © Getty Images

Denver Broncos lost in the Super Bowl for the second year in a row, this time 42-10 to Washington Redskins, who set various SB records. Timmy Smith was the only player to rush for 200 yards in a single game, and Doug Williams was the first black quarterback. He threw for 340 yards and four touchdowns and was voted MVP.

George Bonhag was born in the USA. Virtually unknown now, he shouldn't be. This is the only track and field athlete to win Olympic gold medals in running and walking. At the 1906 Intercalated Games, he entered the 1500 metre walk only because he finished out of the medals in his running events. He'd never taken part in a walking race before, and it showed. His technique was as illegal as the two competitors who finished ahead of them. They were disqualified, and Bonhag fell foul of two of the four judges. A casting vote gave him the gold medal. His other Olympic medals were won in team races. Silver at three miles in 1908 and gold at 3,000 metres in 1912.

Noel Quarless lost his last fight. He was still only 27, young for a heavyweight, when he was stopped in the second round by a slimline 24-year-old Lennox Lewis. A knockout specialist, Quarless had ended the pro career of former world champion John Tate - but defence wasn't his thing, and when Lewis threw a few punches in the second round, the referee stopped the fight after the second knockdown.

At the skiing World Championships, Chantal Bournissen won the combined in 1991. She was the first Romande, or French speaker, to win a skiing world title for Switzerland - but she was lucky that Petra Kronberger, the favourite after finishing second in the downhill section, pulled out after injuring herself in the downhill proper.

Shirley Babashoff was born in California. A serial silver medallist behind the East German amazons, she finished second in six Olympic events and had to settle for freestyle relay golds in 1972 and 1976. At the World Championships, she won another seven silvers (and a bronze) but individual golds too, at 200 and 400 freestyle in 1975. Her brother Jack won a medal in the 100 metres at the 1976 Olympics. The family silver, of course.

Frank Parker was born Franciszek Pajkowski in Milwaukee. A consistent groundstroker, he was Wimbledon men's doubles champion in 1949, the same year he retained the French singles title. He was US singles champion in 1944 and 1945, runner-up twice, and helped the USA win the Davis Cup in 1937 and 1948.