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  • December 5 down the years

England dash Springbok record hopes

The sporting events of December 5 down the years
Eddie the Eagle Edwards was a figure of fun in 1988 © Getty Images
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1963
Eddie the Eagle was born. Michael Edwards was the biggest figure of fun at the 1988 Winter Olympics, where he finished last on both hills in ski jumping. But he overcame problems with weight (he was more than a stone heavier than any other jumper) and eyesight (he had to wear glasses all the time, even though they fogged up and left him almost blind as he dropped from the heavens) and he did break the British record. Plus he was involved in something rather harder than the runners who finish hours behind the winner of the Marathon. Jumping on a pair of sticks from 350 feet up takes some doing. The Eagle wasn't the best at what he did, but he was one of the bravest.

1998
If South Africa had won at Twickenham, they would have broken the world record of 17 consecutive wins they shared with the All Blacks. Instead they lost 13-7 after being level at half-time. Matt Dawson's two penalty goals were the difference between the teams, but the England operation was run from fly-half by Mike Catt, who was born in South Africa. He played in ten games against the Springboks for England and the Lions, finishing on the winning side only three times.

1975
Ronnie O'Sullivan was born. By common consent the most naturally talented snooker player of all time, virtually ambidextrous, he was a star from the start, winning a ranking tournament at 17 (November 28, 1993) - and only boredom has stopped him achieving more than his three world titles. He's won the UK Championship four times, and when he fancies turning it on, the table's not big enough: he's the only player to score three maximum 147s at the World Championship, and one of them was the fastest ever: five minutes and twenty seconds. The third was the ninth of his professional career, breaking the record he shared with Stephen Hendry. He won the 2004 World final 18-8 after being 5-0 down and after beating Hendry 17-4 in the semi-final.

1993
In Palma, Majorca, the inaugural World Short-Course Championships came to an end. On the last day, Mark Foster won Britain's third gold of the meet, in the 50 metres freestyle.

1982
The second women's world championships in judo ended with gold in the lightest class (under 48 kg) for Britain's Karen Briggs, the first of her three consecutive titles and four in all. Her team mate Loretta Doyle also won gold, in the next size up: under 52 kg.

1956
At the Olympic Games, 17-year-old Judy Grinham set a Games record in winning the 100 metres backstroke. Only fifth at the turn, she caught America's Carin Cone in the last ten metres, finishing in the same time. Her British team mate Margaret Edwards took the bronze. Two years later, Grinham won gold at the Commonwealth Games (in world record time) and European Championships.

At the same 1956 Olympics, America's Shelly Mann won the inaugural 100 metres butterfly. Crippled by polio as a child, she took up swimming to strengthen her limbs.

1947
In the first world heavyweight title fight to be televised (as opposed to filmed), champion Joe Louis won a split decision over Jersey Joe Walcott - but the result stank the place out. Louis had a notoriously bad defence. Even at his peak, he was knocked down by Max Schmeling, Buddy Baer, even Two Ton Tony Galento - and Jersey Joe, who flattened him in the first and fourth rounds here. Walcott's manager even filed a claim with the New York Athletic Commission. The following year, Jersey Joe had the champion on the floor again, but this time Louis won in 11 rounds. Walcott finally took the title in 1951, by which time he was 37.

1981
Chris Evert put up her customary fight in the final of the Australian Open, winning the first set on a tie-break - but Martina Navrátilová usually had the better of her on grass, and she came through to take the third set 7-5. Evert reversed the result in the final the following year.

1971
Ashia Hansen was born in the USA but competed for Britain in the triple jump. She set a world indoor record in winning the 1988 European title, and took gold at the Commonwealth Games the same year. Four years later, she retained the Commonwealth title and added the European Championships outdoors, winning each competition with her final jump. The only British woman over 15 metres, she set her 10th national record in 1997, but injuries held her back at the Olympics and World Championships.

A number of Davis Cup Finals were settled on this day.

France staged the 1999 centenary final on indoor clay to blunt the big serves of Mark Philippoussis - who promptly won both his singles matches, including the opener in three easy sets against clay court expert Sébastien Grosjean and the decider against Cédric Pioline. It was the first time Australia lifted the trophy since 1986.

In 1993, Germany won the Cup for the third time and the first without Boris Becker. Against a non-vintage Australian team in Düsseldorf, Michael Stich won all his three matches, including the one that clinched the title, in straight sets against Richard Fromberg.

In 1998, Sweden beat an even poorer Italian team in Milan - though things might have been different if Andrea Gaudenzi hadn't retired injured at 6-6 in the final set against Magnus Norman. Nicklas Kulti and doubles expert Jonas Björkman sealed the win by winning in straight sets.

In 2004, the clay did its work. On day one in Seville, an 18-year-old Rafael Nadal beat Andy Roddick after dropping the first set. Now, on the third day, Roddick lost again, to Carlos Moyà in straight sets, the last two on tie-breaks.

1998
Scotland's rugby union authorities don't regard this as a full international, which is a bit strict considering it was a World Cup qualifier. The standard of the opposition probably entered the equation: Spain lost 85-3 at Murrayfield, conceding 13 tries, one each to the Leslie brothers and five to Kenny Logan, who later married TV presenter Gabby Yorath. Duncan Hodge kicked ten conversions.

1981
Australia scored two tries in Cardiff, but big Richard Moriarty scored one on his debut for Wales, who won 18-13.

2000
India cricketer Mohammed Azharuddin was banned for life for match-fixing.

1928
Chasing a colossal 742 to win the first Test against England, Australia were all out for 66, setting the tone for the rest of the series.

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