- February 26 down the years
Lyle gets off the mark
Scotland's Sandy Lyle won a professional golf tournament for the first time, the Nigerian Open. In the first two rounds, he shot 61 and 63. At the time, this was a world record for 36 holes in a leading tournament. Lyle had bigger days to come, notably at the Masters in in 1988, but you've got to start somewhere.
George Lindsay scored a world record five tries for Scotland - after coming in as a late substitute. The match was postponed from January, and during that time David Macfarlan dropped out. Not that it mattered who played: Wales were outclassed long before being hit by injuries to Jem Evans and Billy Douglas. No other player scored more tries in an international match until 1951. Scotland racked up 12 in all, still the record for the competition. Seven other players scored one each. Only four were converted, so Wales lost by only four goals to nil. Today we'd be talking 68-0, a Championship record that wasn't broken until February 17, 2001.
Jenny Thompson was lucky to be born in the USA, where other top swimmers come from. Of the competitors with eight Olympic gold medals, she's the only one not to win one in an individual event. In fact, in four Olympics, she won only two individual medals: silver and bronze in the 100 metres freestyle eight years apart. All her golds were in relays, including all three in 1996 and 2000. She did better on her own at World Championships, winning the 100 free in 1998 and the 100 butterfly twice, as well as four in relays. She won eleven World Short-Course titles, only two of them (gasp) in relays - and a whopping 25 golds in Pan-Pacific Championships. She set a world record in the 100 metres freestyle and another in the 100 fly. Plus four in relays of course.
The day after her 22nd birthday, Mary Stewart won the National cross-country race. Eighteen-year-old Wendy Smith finished second, 40-year-old Joyce Smith third. Smith had won the title back in 1959, then again in 1960 and 1973. After such a good winter, Stewart won the 1500 metres at the Commonwealth Games in August. Her brother Ian was also a cross-country champion who won Commonwealth gold.
Vreni Schneider regained the Olympic slalom title. She first won it in 1988, together with the giant slalom, but a herniated disc kept her down to seventh in 1992. Now she lay fourth at halfway but blasted her second run. She was the first skier to win three Olympic gold medals.
Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins became world professional snooker champion for the first time. He was 22, the youngest to win the title up till then. At Selly Park British Legion in Birmingham, he made breaks of 94 and 46 to win the final frame 140-0 and beat defending champion John Spencer 37-31 (none of these best-of-37 sprints in those days). Earlier in the day, Spencer had won three frames in a row, making his third century break of the match, to close the gap to two. But he was blown away in the last four. He won £480, Spencer £320. Less than twelve quid a frame. Spencer won the title again in 1977, Higgins not until May 16 ten years later.
One of the mega middleweight match-ups. Harry Greb was the great buzzsaw of the 1920s. His knockout record wasn't much, but opponents came out looking like they'd been through a beehive. No-one ever threw more punches. There again, maybe he had to, to be sure some of them landed. You can't be the best judge of distance when you fight most of your career with only one good eye! Trying to take the world middleweight title from this amazing character was Tiger Flowers, who was known as the southpaw Harry Greb - so people knew what kind of fight to expect. Flowers used his left hand to still the Greb whirlwind, cut his eye, and become the first black boxer to win the middleweight title. Some people thought the points decision should have gone Greb's way, in this fight and the return fight later that year. Spookily, both of them died during eye operations.
Brother follows brother as Olympic champion. American ice skater Hayes Jenkins won individual gold in 1956, his kid brother David today. He was in second place after the compulsories but his free programme was the best of the competition. He succeeded his brother as world champion too: Hayes four times in a row up to 1956, David three in a row from 1957.
Sanya Richards was born in Jamaica but ran for the USA. She was only 18 when she won gold in the 4x400 metres relay at the 2003 World Championships, an event she won twice more. After running the fastest time in the world for three years in a row, she was favourite for the individual title at the 2008 Olympics, but once again showed her flakiness on the big day and finished third behind Britain's Christine Ohuruogu. A repeat gold in the relay wasn't enough compensation. But Richards got it right at the World Championships in 2009, winning gold in the individual and relay.