- Ask Steven
A dominant leftie and nearly manSteven Lynch November 22, 2010
Rafael Nadal is the most recent left-hander to win each of the Grand Slam men's singles titles. Who is the most recent left-handed female champion in each of the Grand Slams? asked Brent Peeling
The most recent left-handed winner of the women's singles at the Australian, French and US Opens is Monica Seles, who won nine singles titles in all between 1990 and 1996. But Seles never won Wimbledon, where the last left-handed woman to win is none other than Martina Navratilova, who lifted the last of her nine singles titles there in 1990. Left-handed champions are remarkably rare in tennis: the only other left-hander to win the women's singles at Wimbledon was Ann Jones, in 1969, while apart from Navratilova and Seles the only other one to win the US championship was Evelyn Sears, way back in 1907.
I noticed that only two players have taken part in five World Cup tournaments. Has any England player taken part in four? asked Jim Brewer from Suffolk
There were two near-misses in 2010 - both David Beckham and Michael Owen, who might well have been in Fabio Capello's final 23 but for injury, played in 1998, 2002 and 2006. I believe the only man to have been part of four England World Cup squads is Bobby Charlton, between 1958 and 1970. However, he didn't actually play in a match in Sweden in 1958. Apart from these three, eight other players have played for England at three World Cups: Tom Finney and Billy Wright (1950, 1954 and 1958), Bobby Moore (1962, 1966 and 1970), Peter Shilton (1982, 1986 and 1990; he narrowly missed selection in 1970, being cut from the original "long list" of 40 players), Terry Butcher and Bryan Robson (1982, 1986 and 1990), Sol Campbell (1998, 2002 and 2006) and Ashley Cole (2002, 2006 and 2010). For the record the two players who have taken part in five different World Cup tournaments are Antonio Carbajal of Mexico (1950-1966) and Lothar matthaus (1982-1998).
Who was disqualified from his event at the Olympics because he wasn't of sufficiently high rank in the army? asked Arthur Elliott via Facebook
This unfortunate individual was a Swedish horse-rider called Gehnall Persson, who was disqualified from the dressage event in London in 1948 when it was discovered he was "only" a sergeant in the army, when the astonishingly archaic rules at the time permitted only commissioned officers to take part. Persson had finished sixth in the individual competition, so his removal did not affect the medals there, but it had more severe repercussions in the team event: Sweden finished first, but eventually had to hand back their gold medals. The gold went instead to France - and it had been a French official who spotted that Persson was riding in a sergeant's cap rather than an officer's one.
After Audley Harrison's not-terribly-heroic failure, how many Olympic heavyweight champions have won the professional world heavyweight title? asked Mike Bromige from Bath
To take your question literally, only three men have won the Olympic heavyweight gold medal and gone on to win a version of the professional world heavyweight title: Joe Frazier (the Olympic champion of 1964), George Foreman (1968), and Ray Mercer (1988). Since 1984, though, there has been a super-heavyweight class at the Olympics, and Lennox Lewis (1988) and Wladimir Klitschko (1996) both won that before going on to lift the world professional title. In 1960 Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) won the Olympic light-heavyweight gold medal: the only other winner of that who later won the world heavyweight title was Leon Spinks (1976) who, ironically took the belt from Ali in a controversial bout in 1978. Finally, and rather surprisingly, two Olympic middleweight gold medallists have gone on to win the world heavyweight title: Floyd Patterson (1952) and Leon Spinks' brother Michael (1976).
Which horse finished second three times in the Arc? asked Jamie Wright from Reading
This perennial runner-up is Youmzain, an Irish-bred horse trained by the former England footballer Mick Channon. Ridden by Richard Hughes, Youmzain was narrowly beaten by Dylan Thomas in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 2007. The following year - now ridden by Richard Hills - he was second behind Zarkava. And in 2009, with Kieron Fallon up, Youmzain was second again, this time behind the "wonder horse" Sea the Stars, who completed a unique treble of English 2000 Guineas, Derby and the Arc. In 2010, by now seven, Youmzain was tenth at Longchamp. It wasn't all second places for Youmzain, though: in 2008 he won the prestigious Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, and two years before that won another Group One race in Germany.
Which athlete has won the same individual event at the most successive Olympics? asked John McDonald from Chesterfield
Two American men share the distinction of winning the same individual track and field event at four successive Olympics. The first was Al Oerter, who won the discus in 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1968: he made a comeback in 1980, aged 43, and narrowly missed selection for the Olympics, finishing fourth in the US trials. Only the first three were chosen - and the American team didn't go to those Moscow Olympics anyway. Oerter's achievement was equalled in 1996, when Carl Lewis won the long jump for the fourth straight time: he also won it in 1984, 1988 and 1992. Someone who narrowly failed to achieve a similar feat was the Russian triple-jumper Viktor Saneyev: after winning the event in 1968, 1972 and 1976, he was beaten into second place in 1980 by another Soviet athlete, Jaak Uudmae.