On This Day

  • April 30 down the years

Crazed fan stabs Seles

Monica Seles was the victim of a shocking attack © Getty Images
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1993
The day Monica Seles was stabbed during a tennis match. She was playing Magdalena Maleeva in Hamburg when an obsessive fan of Steffi Graf waited until she was sitting down before sticking a knife between her shoulder blades. Instead of being jailed, said fan was sentenced to two years' probation and treatment for psychological issues. Seles' mental scars also took a long time to knit: she didn't return to competition for two years - so the stabber got what he wanted. His motive, he said, was to help Graf regain the No. 1 position. Before today, Seles had taken it from her with a vengeance. At 19, she'd already won eight Grand Slam singles titles, having beaten Graf in the finals of the US Open (twice) and the Australian. Soon after the knife attack, Graf won the French (which Seles had just won three years in a row) and the US. When Seles returned, she was good but not the same. She won only one more Grand Slam singles title and lost to Graf in two US finals.

1977
The first World Snooker Championship at the Crucible in Sheffield. After beating Dennis Taylor 18-16, John Spencer had a day less to prepare for the final against Cliff Thorburn. He got off to a good start by winning the first three frames, but the rest of the match was a real seesaw. Thorburn was known as The Grinder, but Spencer was a ferret himself, for all his stylish appearance. He went 8-6 and 15-11 down but levelled at 9-all and 15-all then led 18-16 and 39-0 in the next frame, only for Thorburn to make the score 18-all by the start of the last day. Again Spencer jumped the first three frames, again Thorburn came back at him. Spencer led only 22-20 and 22-21, but then won the next three frames, including the last 72-12, to take the title 25-21.

On the same day in 1995, Stephen Hendry took his fourth title in a row by winning one of the least memorable Finals 18-9 against outsider Nigel Bond. who led 4-3 before resuming his seat. Bond lost to Hendry at the Crucible four years in a row including this one. In 2006 he finally beat him there: 10-9 on a re-spotted black.

Roland Ratzenberger © Sutton Images
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1994
Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger was killed during practice for the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. This was only his third Formula One race (he started only one of them), and he was competing for the last spot on the grid, which is why he didn't come in to the pits after damaging his front wing. On the next lap, the wing broke off and went under his car, and he crashed into a safety wall at 190 mph. The tragedies didn't end there. The sport claimed its biggest name the day after.

At the same place on the same day the following year, Damon Hill's win gave him the lead in the drivers' championship. But he eventually finished second to Michael Schumacher for the second year in a row.

2010
A dark day in the career of Tiger Woods who shoots a 79 at the Quail Hollow Championship to miss the cut for only the sixth time in a 14-year career. He came home in 43 to equal his worst nine holes as a professional.

1988
Wigan's run of eight Challenge Cups began here, in the final against holders Halifax. They would have won by more than 32-12 if they'd converted more than two of their seven tries. The Iro brothers scored three of them: Tony on the wing and powerful centre Kevin, whose two set him on the way to a record six in finals (April 28, 1990). Halifax didn't score until they were 26-0 down.

1906
At the Intercalated Olympic Games in Athens, Peter O'Connor suppressed his ire at the outcome of the long jump on April 27 to win the triple jump ahead of fellow Irishman Con Leahy, who won the high jump the next day. Meyer Prinstein, winner of the triple jump at the last two Olympics, stayed out of this one, possible to avoid O'Connor's righteous indignation. The winning distance didn't approach Prinstein's Games record.

On the track, America's Jim Lightbody (and not Seb Coe in 1984) became the first to retain the Olympic 1500 metres title. On the same tight circuit that led to slow times ten years earlier, Lightbody took six seconds more than the world record he'd set at the 1904 Games. Another Irishman, John McGough, finished a close second.

The most unexpected winner on the day was George Bonhag, who'd been part of a team that won an Olympic race in St Louis two years earlier. Here in Athens, he'd finished out of the medals in the 1500 metres and five miles - so he entered the 1500 metre walk. Just one problem. Bonhag knew how to run but not how to walk competitively. After a hasty tutorial, he set off. Ahead of him, Richard Wilkinson of Britain and Austria's Eugen Spiegler finished first and second but were disqualified for running. Bonhag should have been too, but the chief judge, another American, awarded him the race. He's the only athlete to win Olympic titles in running and walking. Or running and running in his case.

1971
In the 100 metres freestyle, Dawn Fraser's 10th and last world record, 58.9 seconds set on Leap Day 1964, was equalled by Shane Gould, another swimmer born in Sydney. The following January, Gould swam 58.5 to break it at last.

1900
British boxing legend Bob Fitzsimmons knocked out Ed Dunkhorst in the second round with a blow to the belly. He had a big area to aim at. Dunkhorst weighed about 20 stone, Fitz less than 12. He was 36, Dunkhorst 23.

1939
Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees set a Major League record by playing his 2,130th game in a row, a run of appearances that began in June 1925. He died in 1941 of a muscle-wasting disease which became known as Lou Gehrig Syndrome.

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