- February 13 down the years
Calzaghe claims the crown
Good friends Joe Calzaghe and Richie Woodhall won world title fights on the same day and in the same division. It was a night of swings and roundabouts, Brits and Italians and Italian Brits. Calzaghe won a split decision against Robin Reid, who'd lost the WBC super-middleweight title which Woodhall won from the boxer who beat Reid. Woodhall stopped Vincenzo Nardiello in the sixth after both fighters had been down in the fifth. His last fight before retirement was against Calzaghe, on December 16, 2000.
Linda Elriani won the British National squash title at the 17th attempt. Marriage and a change of name helped this time, whereas they hadn't before. She lost two finals when she was Linda Charman and two more as Linda Smith. Now, at the age of 33, she faced unseeded Alison Waters, who was 13 years younger. 'There was a spell in the second game when the old Linda Charman tried to get out...but I made sure it was Linda Elriani who stayed in the game.' She won 9-2 9-4 9-3 in half an hour. With the elusive trophy in the cabinet at last, she reverted to type by losing the next year's final. Walters won the title in 2008.
Rosi Mittermaier came within 0.12 seconds of a clean sweep. She'd already won the other two Alpine skiing events at the Winter Olympics when she set off on her giant slalom run. At halfway, she was half a second in the lead, but then she lost time at one of the gates and finished that fraction of a second behind 18-year-old Canadian Kathy Kreiner.
The most unexpected gold medallist in any Winter Olympics. Well, that's what history insists. At the time, it was a surprise waiting to happen. Although Francisco Fernández Ochoa had never finished higher than sixth in any international event, he'd been in the top ten often enough for people to believe a breakthrough might be on its way. The team manager of France, for one. Ochoa was born near ski slopes and he'd been on them since he was four. He led the Olympic slalom after the first run and kept his nerve on the second to finish a full second ahead of Italy's Gustavo Thöni, who'd won the giant slalom three days earlier, and Rolando Thöni, a distant relative. Gustavo was only 20, a year younger than Ochoa. He was second again in the slalom at the next Olympics but won four World Championship golds and four overall World Cup titles. Meanwhile Ochoa won not only Spain's first gold medal at the Winter Games but their first Olympic gold medal in any sport since 1928. His sister Blanca took the bronze in the slalom 20 years later. She was the first Spanish woman to win a medal in any Olympic Games, summer or winter.
Alfred Gilbert was born in Oregon. At the 1908 Olympic Games, he shared first place in the pole vault. Earlier in the year, he set two short-lived world records in the event. He also reached the top away from sport, as the man who patented the Erector Set, the American version of Meccano (but with a dodgier name).
Eric Heiden became the first American speedskater to win the all-round world title since inaugural champion Joe Donoghue in 1891. On February 23, 1980, Heiden won a record-breaking gold medal at the Winter Olympics.
Harold Mahony was born in Edinburgh but lived and died in Ireland. Poor from the back of the court but lively at the net, he won the Wimbledon singles title in 1896. In a long, hard final, he came from behind to beat defending champion Wilfred Baddeley. The three middle sets were 6-8 5-7 8-6. The following year, Mahony lost the title in straight sets to Reggie Doherty. He died when he was 38, falling off his bike on an Irish mountain.