- Ask Steven
A unique Olympic momentSteven Lynch April 2, 2012
My mother was apparently named after a tennis player called Betty Nuthall. Who was she? She never won Wimbledon ... asked Albert Sanders
Betty Nuthall was a British tennis star of the 1930s. Born in Surbiton, near Kingston in Surrey, in 1911, she had more success in America than at home: you're right in saying that she never won Wimbledon, where in fact she never made it beyond the quarter-finals. But it was a different story in the US National championships: she lost to the great Helen Wills Moody in the final at Forest Hills in 1927, when only 16 and still serving underarm. Nuthall made her debut in the Wightman Cup (the annual match between Britain and the US) that year, and beat the future Wimbledon champion Helen Jacobs in the singles. In 1932 - in the absence of Wills Moody, and now serving overarm - Nuthall won the US title, beating Anna McCune Harper 6-1 6-4, coincidentally the same score by which she had lost the final three years previously. Nuthall won the women's doubles at Forest Hills three times, and the mixed twice, and also won the doubles and the mixed at the French Championships, where she was beaten in the singles final (by the German Cilly Aussem) in 1931. Nuthall later married an American, and settled there: she died in New York in 1983.
Who was given an Olympic medal - apparently unique - which was half gold and half silver? asked Mike Wilson via Facebook
This was presented to the great allround athlete Mildred "Babe" Didrikson (later Mrs Zaharias, and a champion golfer too) in recognition of her efforts in the high jump at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Didrikson - who also won the 80 metres hurdles and the javelin - was placed second in the high jump despite clearing the same (new world record) height as the winner, her American team-mate Jean Shiley. Didrikson was penalised as the judges didn't like her "western roll" jumping technique, in which her head went over the bar first. Didrikson's gold/silver medal is not, as far as I know, an official one: I suspect it was created by a friend or family member to recognise her achievement. It's apparently kept at the Babe Zaharias Museum in Beaumont, Texas. Something similar happened in the men's pole vault in the 1936 Berlin Olympics: the Japanese pair of Shuhei Nishida and Sueo Oe tied for second place but, rather than compete against each other in a jump-off, instead drew lots for the silver medal. Nishida won, but when the pair got back to Japan they had their medals cut in half and welded back together so they each had a medal which was half silver and half bronze.
What was unusual about Ross Fisher's win in the World Matchplay Championship? asked Kim Sutcliffe
Ross Fisher, the English golfer who has won three European Tour events and was a member of the victorious 2010 Ryder Cup team, won the Volvo World Matchplay title in 2009, beating the American Anthony Kim in the final. That tournament was notable as it was played at Casares, near Malaga in Spain: all the previous events, since Arnold Palmer won the first one in 1964, had been held at Wentworth. What must have been a bit galling for Fisher was that he is a member at Wentworth, having been born down the road in Ascot! The prizemoney (around £630,000) probably cheered him up a bit, though.
Who was the next footballer to score a hat-trick for England after Geoff Hurst in the 1966 World Cup final? asked Malcolm Banks
The next hat-trick for England in a full international after the 1966 World Cup final was by none other than Geoff Hurst - in a 5-0 victory over France at Wembley in March 1969. Since then 12 different men have completed international hat-tricks for England, the most recent being by Jermain Defoe against Bulgaria at Wembley in September 2010. Gary Lineker scored five hat-tricks (including two lots of four goals), one behind Jimmy Greaves' England record of six.
Which boxer was a world champion for eight hours? asked Joe Hedges
This claimant for the shortest career as a world champion was the American bantamweight Joe Burman, who was due to fight Joe Lynch (no relation!) for the world title at Madison Square Garden in New York in October 1923. Lynch claimed he had an injured shoulder, but a doctor felt the injury was not too serious. It was decided to award the title to Burman, and was proclaimed world champion at around 3pm. However, a substitute fighter was arranged for that evening's bill, and it was Burman's bad luck that the sub turned out to be rather handy: Abe Goldstein - who went on to have a notable career - won on points, and Burman's short reign as world bantamweight champion came to an end around 11pm.
Which French prime minister played rugby for their national team? asked Michael Tennant
This was Jacques Chaban-Delmas, who was France's prime minister from 1969 to 1972, under president Georges Pompidou. During the Second World War, Chaban-Delmas was a prominent member of the French Resistance: shortly afterwards, in April 1945, he played on the wing for France against the British Empire Forces at Richmond, in a "victory" match which is now recognised as a full international (by the French, at least, even though they lost 27-6). Chaban-Delmas was the mayor of Bordeaux for almost 50 years (1947-95): the main sporting stadium there, formerly known as the Stade du Parc Lescure, was renamed in his honour in 2001, after his death the previous year aged 85.