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  • January 25 down the years

Backley makes his mark

The sporting events of January 25 down the years
Steve Backley: Britain's greatest javelin thrower © Getty Images
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1992
Javelin thrower Steve Backley became the only British male athlete to set an IAAF world record in a throwing event. His 91.46 metres in Auckland bettered his own reinstated mark of 89.58. It was broken by Jan Zelezny the following year, but looks like remaining the British and Commonwealth record for the foreseeable future.

1997
Interest in the Heineken Cup had steadily been growing. A crowd of over 40,000 watched the final in Cardiff, almost double the number that saw the inaugural final in the same stadium on January 6 the previous year. A French club won the Cup again, this time by a wider margin, Brive scoring four tries to Leicester's none, two of them by Sébastian Carrat in a 28-9 win.

1997
Martina Hingis won her first Grand Slam singles final. In the Australian Open, the power of her ground strokes surprised Mary Pierce 6-2 6-2. She hadn't taken a set off Pierce in their three previous meetings. At 16 years 117 days, Hingis was the youngest winner of a Grand Slam singles title since July 6, 1887.

1908
Great Britain's first ever rugby league Test match. At Leeds, they faced a New Zealand team which had lost to Wales on January 1 and was without its two best backs: Duncan McGregor had scored four tries for the rugby union All Blacks against England on January 2, 1905 - and 'Dally' Messenger was perhaps the best player in the game. In thick fog, Asa Robinson scored two of GB's four tries in a 14-6 win.

1907
René Pottier committed suicide after discovering his wife had taken a lover while he was away winning the 1906 Tour de France.

1990
At the Commonwealth Games in Auckland, Adrian Moorhouse equalled his own world record in regaining the 100 metres breaststroke title. He led an England clean sweep of the medals. a delighted James Parrack second, a disappointed Nick Gillingham third. Moorhouse equalled the record again later that year.

1982
Ken Buchanan's last fight. A classy boxer, one of the best ever produced in Britain, he was world lightweight champion from 1970 until being on the receiving end of a low blow on June 26, 1972. Today he lost on points over eight rounds to Durham's George Feeney, his fourth defeat in a row. Buchanan contemplated making a comeback in 2009. He needed the money, he said. He was 63 and on painkillers for the rest of his life.

1894
The first British boxer to challenge for the world heavyweight title. In only the second title fight with gloves, Charley Mitchell faced champion Jim Corbett in Jacksonville, Florida. The match was eagerly awaited in Britain, the papers and betting shops full of it. Hard to understand, because Mitchell had been knocked out by John L Sullivan 11 years earlier, and Corbett had won the title from Sullivan on September 7, 1892. Plus Mitchell was 32 by now and weighed only 12 stone. Corbett was no giant, but he was more than a stone heavier, and he was a master boxer, with cutting punches. Mitchell was saved by the gong in the first round, in which he was down four times. He was floored twice in the third, the second time for the full count. He retired after one more fight, Corbett defended his title against another lightly built Englishman on March 17, 1897.

1992
Mary Joe Fernandez was more successful as a doubles player, but she did reach two Australian Open singles finals, the first in 1990 when she was only 18 and now two years later. Unfortunately she faced two of the all-time greats and lost in straight sets each time. Steffi Graf and now Monica Seles. Fernandez had game point in each of the first games of the match but lost them all. It was Seles' 28th consecutive win in Grand Slam tournaments. She'd now won two French, two US and now one Australian, and looked unstoppable. Certainly one of Steffi Graf's 'fans' thought so on April 30, 1993.

1939
Joe Louis kept his world heavyweight title by knocking out the light-heavyweight champion John Henry Lewis. The fight was all over in the first, when Lewis was knocked down three times. He was blind in one eye by then, the result of a fight four years earlier. The disability was discovered before his next light-heavyweight title defence, and the Louis fight was his last.

1987
A month earlier, Pat Cash had won the Davis Cup almost single-handedly. In the final in Melbourne, he beat Stefan Edberg in three hard sets, then came from two sets down to win the decider against Mikail Pernfors. Now, in the final of the Australian Open in the same city, he met Edberg again, and again went two sets down to a Swede. Again he levelled at two-all, but he won the fourth set 7-5 after serving for it at 5-2, and those extra few games sapped his strength. Edberg won the fifth set and retained the title. Cash reached the final again on January 24 the following year. Edberg reached it three more times without winning it again.

John Elway finally got his hands on a Super Bowl ring © Getty Images
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1998
Denver Broncos beat defending champions Green Bay to become the first AFC team to win the Super Bowl in 14 years. After the hell of January 28, 1990, John Elway finally won a Super Bowl ring at the age of 37. The Packers didn't make it easy for him. Quarterback Brett Favre threw touchdown passes to put them ahead 7-0 and equalise at 24-24. But Denver running back Terrell Davis was voted MVP for his three touchdowns, including the one that won the game 31-24 with less than two minutes left. Elway scored a touchdown as in 1990, but this time it wasn't just defiance in defeat. He was back in the big time again on January 31 the following year.

1987
Not such a good day for Elway and the Broncos. They lost the Super Bowl 39-20 to New York Giants, one of the big names in American football, who won the NFL title for the first time since 1956. Elway's opposite number, Giants quarterback Phil Simms, was made MVP for his three touchdown passes. Elway threw one too, but Denver were 39-13 down at the time. He also scored one of his usual Super Bowl touchdowns, but conceded two points by being sacked in the end zone when the Broncos led 10-7.

1958
Jürgen Hingsen was born in Duisburg. He set three world records in the decathlon but couldn't beat Daley Thompson in the big events. He went to the 1982 European Championships, the 1983 World Championships, and the 1984 Olympics as world record holder, and finished second to Thompson every time. Same in the European Championships in 1986. He bombed out of the 1988 Olympics after three false starts in the 100 metres, which set a few minds wondering. His personal best of 8,832 is still the national record.

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