On This Day

  • September 6 down the years

A record swim from Wilkie

David Wilkie was the first British swimmer to set a world record in the 200m breaststroke since 1955 © Getty Images
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1973
At the inaugural World Swimming Championships in Belgrade, Scotland's David Wilkie broke the world record in winning the 200 metres breaststroke. His time of 2:19.28 seconds improved the European and Commonwealth records he set earlier in the day and reversed the placings from the previous year's Olympics, where he finished second to American hard man John Hencken. Today Hencken blasted the first 100, with Wilkie only third but swimming almost four seconds faster than in those Munich Games. The American still led with 50 to go, but Wilkie kept his nerve, and his longer stroke carried him through. He was the first British swimmer to set a world best in the event since 1955 ( March 4.). At the Championships two years later, he retained his title in the 200 and added gold in the 100.

2009
Britain's Steve Peat became a world champion at long last. At the mountain bike World Championships, he'd finished second in the downhill four times, including three in a row. Now, at the age of 35, he won the event in Canberra, The last to go was another British rider, reigning champion Gee Atherton, who'd beaten Peat into second place the previous year. But Atherton could manage only sixth, and Peat won by just 0.05 seconds from his Santa Cruz team mate Greg Minnaar of South Africa.

1996
Britain's Chris Boardman set the current world record for distance covered in an hour on a bike: 56,375 metres in Manchester. The previous five records had been set in Bordeaux, including one by Boardman himself.

1997
Steve Redgrave won his seventh World Championship title. In the coxless fours, the dream team of Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent, James Cracknell, and Tim Foster led from start to finish. They were a boat-length ahead at halfway, then Pinsent raised the rate to 44 strokes a minutes and they finished two lengths clear of France and Romania. The Championships were held on the lake at Aiguebelette in France. Back home in Britain, most sport was called off for Princess Diana's funeral.

1960
The runner who won the 400 wearing 400. At the Olympic Games in Rome, big American Otis Davis had a clear lead coming into the home straight. Yard by yard, Carl Kaufmann narrowed the gap. When the German flung himself at the line, he equalled the world record - but it had been set by Davis one hundredth of a second earlier. Their time of 44.9 was the first under 45 seconds for the 400 metres. Davis helped set another world record in the 4x400 relay, with Kaufmann winning another silver.

Elsewhere in track and field, another American won gold in the decathlon, Rafer Johnson clinging on in the 1500 metres to pip his UCLA team mate Yang Chuan-Kwang of Taiwan.

And the great Australian Herb Elliott sealed his brief but brilliant career by running away with the 1500 metres. Feeling stressed and knackered throughout, he forced himself through each 100 metres by sheer determination, and his talent was so great that he won by 20 yards. His time of 3:35.6 seconds broke his own world record. He retired the following season when he was only 22, unbeaten in 44 races over 1500 metres and the mile. Tall and aquiline, with a sprint finish and the right mind to embrace pain in training, he was Commonwealth Games champion at 880 yards and one mile in 1958.

At these same Olympics, British fencer Allan Jay won silver with the épée, beaten by an Italian in Italy. Giuseppe Delfino was 38 by then and felt he needed to conserve his energy. So instead of trying for five-touch wins, he let the clock run down then went for the sudden-death touch in added time. The tactic beat Jay in the final pool - but only just. Jay was a fraction of an inch from winning gold. Tied with Delfino at 5-5, he achieved the next hit - but so did his opponent, a simultaneous touch which made the score 6-6. Delfino then won the bout to join Jay at the top of the final pool, so they had to fight again, this time for the gold medal. Delfino took the first two hits and led 4-2, forcing Jay to go for broke - and the Italian picked him off to win 5-2.

2010
Kevin Pietersen was fined by the ECB for expressing his disappointment at being rested for England's ODI and T20 series against Pakistan. On his Twitter account, he wrote: "Done for rest of summer!! Man of the World Cup T20 and dropped from the T20 side too. Its a f**k up!!" Before taking down the tweet minutes later.

1958
At the European Swimming Championships, which ended in Budapest today, the stars of the show were two young Brits. Scotland's Ian Black was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year for his three gold medals at the age of 17. He finished nine yards clear in the 400 metres freestyle despite saving something for the 200 metres butterfly final 40 minutes later. Today he swam the 1500 metres in 18:05.8 seconds to break his own European record and finish 20 yards clear of Hungary's József Katona, who won the event four years later. Black was the first swimmer to win three individual golds at the Championships since the great Arne Borg in 1927.

Earlier on this last evening, tiny Brian Phelps dived into the record books with a comfortable win on the highboard. At 14, he was the youngest gold medallist at the Championships before another British highboard diver fifty years later ( March 24.). Phelps retained the title in 1962.

On the day Black won his first two golds, Britain's Judy Grinham won another, in the 100 metres backstroke. She was now European, Commonwealth, and Olympic champion at the event.

1920
The match that confirmed Bill Tilden as the new top tennis player in the world had the most surreal and tragic end to any major tennis final. For the previous two years, Big Bill had finished runner-up at the US Championships. Now he'd won Wimbledon a few months earlier, but Americans weren't unduly impressed. He'd done it in the absence of Bill Johnston, who'd beaten Tilden in the US final the year before to maintain the upper hand in their rivalry. But Tilden wasn't the finished article at the time, even though he was already 26. Without a backhand drive, he couldn't keep Johnston away from the net from that wing, losing the final in three easy sets. But Tilden was the ultimate manufactured player, a DIY champion. That winter, he went away and constructed a backhand drive for himself. Today he used it to blast Little Bill off court in the first set, winning it 6-1. But Tilden still had one last weakness, which he never overcame. He didn't slam his overheads, he placed them, and in the second set he didn't place them well enough. Johnston attacked him with lobs and Tilden let the set slip away 6-1. He won the third 7-5 but lost the fourth by the same score, by which time the standard was up there with the highest and Tilden's career was at a junction. Just then, not far above their heads, an aeroplane was circling the court. It was carrying a photographer who was snapping the match for posterity. At times the pilot came down as low as four hundred feet. Now he banked higher to begin one last swoop. Suddenly the aircraft noise changed. As Johnston and Tilden looked up from near the net, the engine cut out and the plane sailed downwards before nosediving into the ground only two hundred yards away. The bodies of the pilot and photographer were being extricated when Tilden's big serves gave him the fifth set 6-3 and the start of his world domination. He won the US title for the seventh time in 1929.

1986
The shortest international career in rugby union. In a match against Australia in Auckland, Marty Berry came on for the last 18 seconds, just before the final kick-off. He couldn't prevent the All Blacks losing 22-9.

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