On This Day

  • October 28 down the years

Heartbreak for Hoy but McGregor shines

Yvonne McGregor clinched a world title © Getty Images
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2000
British track cyclist Yvonne McGregor won her only world title at the age of 39. In today's individual pursuit final, the Manchester crowd weren't fazed when she was more than a second slower after the first 500 metres and even further behind after 750: McGregor was known as a strong finisher. Sure enough, the tide turned. Germany's Judith Arndt, champion in 1997, saw her lead shaved lap by lap until she slipped behind with just over 500 to go. By the end, there was a gap of a second and a half as McGregor became the first British winner of the event since Beryl Burton in 1966.

It wasn't always gold after gold for Chris Hoy. Today in Manchester, he joined Jason Queally and Craig MacLean in taking silver behind France in the team sprint. Again. The French forced them into second place at the previous year's World Championships, then the 2000 Olympic Games, and by just 0.342 of a second now.

On the same day over in Phillip Island, the Australian Grand Prix was the last of the World Championship season. Northern Ireland motorcyclist Jeremy McWilliams became the first United Kingdom rider since 1987 to take pole in a World Championship 500cc race. But he finished only eighth the following day, failing to become the first UK rider to win a 500cc Grand Prix since Barry Sheene in Sweden 19 years earlier. Kenny Roberts won the world title this year. His dad Kenny senior, a rival of Sheene's, won it three times.

Meanwhile McWilliams had to wait another year to make it onto the top step of the rostrum. He was 37 by the time he won the 250cc race at the Dutch Grand Prix. It was the only World Championship event he ever won, at the 119th attempt spread over 13 years. Sidecars aside, McWilliams was the first UK rider to win a World Championship race since Ian McConnachie took the British 80cc in 1986 - and the first to win a 250cc race since Alan Carter at the French in 1983.

1995
The last time Great Britain played in a rugby league World Cup final. They didn't win it after 1972 and lost three finals after that: in 1977 (June 25), 1992 (October 24) and again today. The last two were at Wembley; all three matches were close; and GB's latest disappointment was all the greater because they'd beaten Australia in the opening match of the tournament. They may have had some bad luck today: Martin Offiah was judged to have put a foot in touch before making a try-scoring pass to Paul Newlove, and Tony Smith may have been tripped by Tim Brasher (though one of Smith's team mates believed he simply tripped over). But what really cost Britain the Cup was a lack of ambition despite the pace of Offiah and Jason Robinson out wide - and above all, too many mistakes. The back row of Phil Clarke, Andy Farrell, and captain Denis Betts had its worst game of the tournament, and errors by Clarke and Robinson led to Australia's two tries. Before that, GB took an early lead with a Bobby Goulding penalty. But Andrew Johns converted Rod Wishart's try from far out, then added two penalties to put Australia 10-4 up at half-time. Four minutes into the second half, Newlove's try brought Britain back to within two points - but Tim Brasher scored the winning try with 12 minutes left. Johns, a famous scrum-half, was man of the match - playing at hooker! The sort of flexibility and talent GB couldn't quite match.

On the same day, the Braves won baseball's World Series for the third time. They were the first franchise to win it for three different cities: as the Boston Braves in 1914, the Milwaukee Braves in 1957, and in Atlanta now. After losing the World Series in 1991 and 1992, they beat the Cleveland Indians 4-2. Five of the six games were won by a single run, including the last today 1-0.

A less successful day for baseball in 1924. When the Chicago White Sox beat the New York Giants 8-4 in Dublin, it didn't work as a flag-waving exercise. Only twenty spectators turned up.

1904
American gymnast George Eyser won six Olympic medals in one day, including gold in the parallel bars, rope climbing, and - amazingly - the vault. Amazingly because he had a wooden leg!

On the same date in 1996, Li Donghua also won Olympic gold in gymnastics. Born in China, he married a Swiss girl in 1988 but had to wait five years before he became a citizen, so these were his first Olympics and he was very nearly 30. World champion on the pommel horse in 1995, he won the same event today.

Juan Manuel Fangio triumphed on this day © Getty Images
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1951
Argentina's great motor racing icon Juan Manuel Fangio won the Formula 1 world title for the first time. He was already 40 by then (born June 24 1911), but the World Championship didn't exist when he was younger. In fact, this was only the second - and he would have won the first but for gearbox trouble (September 3). No mistake today at the Spanish Grand Prix, the last race of the season. Fangio went into it with a lead of only two points over Italy's Alberto Ascari, who started on pole here in Pedrables. But his Ferrari team picked the wrong tyres and suffered throughout: Piero Taruffi and Luigi Villoresi dropped out early on, and both Ascari and Froilán González had to make too many pit stops. Fangio won the race by nearly a minute, with Ascari only fourth. Ascari (died May 26 1955) won the title for the next two years, the first when Fangio was badly injured early on. Fangio won it four years in a row up to 1957 (August 4).

1978
In Puerto Rico, two all-time great boxers met in a fight which had all the ingredients. Youth v experience. Carlos Zarate of Mexico was 27; local boy Wilfredo Gómez a day short of his 22nd birthday. Both were unbeaten as professionals, Zarate in 52 fights, Gomez in 22. Both were WBC world champions, Zarate at bantamweight, Gómez super-bantamweight. There was even a clash of styles. Zarate was tall and lugubrious, with long arms and cutting punches, Gómez a classic little buzzsaw. But ingredients don't always blend into a classic. The fight was for Gomez's title, and both fighters had trouble making the weight - but the surprise as that Zarate had more of a problem. He had to make four trips to the scales to get down to 8 stone 10. So he simply didn't have the strength to recover when Gómez knocked him down twice in the fourth round, the second time after the bell had gone, and again in the fifth. British referee Harry Gibbs stopped the fight when Zarate's corner threw in the towel. Gómez made seven more successful defences before losing for the first time, in a bid for the WBC featherweight title. Zarate lost his bantamweight title within a year.

1900
The first Olympic champions at rugby. As with so many sports at those shambolic Games, the standard wasn't especially high. France hadn't started playing official international matches yet, but their boys were good enough to do an easy job. The four British Isles countries didn't send any national teams, so Britain were represented by Moseley Wanderers, who arrived in Paris on the morning of their match and went home the same evening. The French had beaten a German team 27-17 and had even less trouble with the weary travellers, winning 27-8 in front of 10,000 spectators, the biggest crowd for any event at these Olympics. The only player on either side to play in an official international was Arthur Darby, who won a single cap for England the year before and attended the Sorbonne University in Paris. Haiti-born Constantin Henríquez de Zubiera seems to have been the first mixed-race competitor to compete at any Olympic Games. He also won a silver medal in tug-of-war.

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