On This Day

  • February 2 down the years

A great race on the track

John Walker shows his frustration at not catching Filbert Bayi © Getty Images
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1974
One of the big moments at the Commonwealth Games. Running from gun to tape, the relatively unknown Tanzanian Filbert Bayi broke the world record in winning the 1500 metres. He held off New Zealand's John Walker in one of the most thrilling chases in track and field. Bayi's 3 minutes 32.2 is still the Games record.

England's Geoff Capes broke the Commonwealth record in winning the shot putt. His 20.74 metres was a Games record until 2002.

The men's javelin was won by one of the great lost talents. At the European Junior Championships in August, 18-year-old Charlie Clover finished fourth with 72.10 metres. Now he reached 84.92 to set a world junior record and beat the defending champion, his England team-mate Dave Travis. According to the team manager, Clover didn't even have the medal engraved. He drifted out of the event soon afterwards.

Among the women, Barbara Inkpen Lawton won her only major gold medal in the high jump; 17-year-old Ruth Kennedy helped England win the 4x400 relay; and Joan Allison Page won her second consecutive silver in the 1500.

2008
A poignant day for Shaun Edwards. In his first match as Wales's defensive coach, they won at Twickenham for the first time in twenty years - but it's hard to know how much he had to do with it. At one point, they were 19-6 down. And it should have been worse. Paul Sackey crossed their line but was unlucky to ground the ball on a Welsh arm. In the second half, Wales scored 20 points in 13 minutes, including a try from Jonny Wilkinson's wild pass to Danny Cipriani. James Hook kicked 16 points to Wilko's 14, and Wales won 26-19. The date is also the birthday of Edwards' brother Billy Joe, who died in a car crash in 2003.

2000
At the World Cup short-course event in Sheffield, 19-year-old South African swimmer Terence Parkin won the 100 and 200 metres breaststroke and 200 and 400 individual medley. Later that year, he won silver in the 200 breast at the 2000 Olympics. Parkin is deaf: a strobe lamp by the side of his block acted as his gun, a single flash signalling the start.

1994
Winston Burnett's last fight. A remarkable boxer who stepped in a ring too often for his own good, he was banned from fighting in Britain because of a detached retina, so he moved to the USA. He probably fancied getting to 100, but was persuaded to stop after today. So he lost only 98 of his 121 pro fights.

1980
England won a rugby match in Paris for the first time since 1964. When France's captain Jean-Pierre Rives scored a try in the second minute, it looked like more of the same old. But England scored two of their own, and fly-half John Horton ran the show as well as dropping two goals. A late converted try by France made the final score 17-13, but England won more easily than that. The match against Wales on February 16 promised to be even closer.

1964
When Soviet speedskater Lydia Skoblikova won the 3,000 metres in Innsbruck, she became the first competitor to win four gold medals at the same Winter Olympics and the first to win six in total. No-one has won more than her six individual golds at the Games.

1880
In their first seven rugby matches, Ireland didn't score. Not a try, not a goal, nothing. Today, in their eighth, they still didn't score a point. Matches were won on the number of goals, and they didn't kick one against England, who did and therefore won the game. But Ireland did get their first ever try, through Loftus Cuppaidge. England got two. Ireland's first goal arrived on February 19, 1881, enough for their first ever win.

1997
Germany's Wolfgang Hoppe won the last of his three world titles in the four-man bob - but only after the Swiss team had been disqualified from the top three places when the construction of their bob was ruled illegal.

1964
Holland's Sjoukje Dijkstra became the third woman in a row to win individual ice skating gold at the Winter Olympics after silver at the previous Games.

1882
Leon Meredith was born in London with a silver spoon in his mouth. A rich uncle allowed him to spend his time cycling despite being an amateur. He was provided with things a poorer cyclist could never afford, like a full-time trainer and a pacing machine. At least this was a talent worth pampering. Meredith was world champion seven times at the amateur motor-paced event, including three in a row. At the 1908 Olympics he didn't do as well as expected, puncturing in the 20 kilometres and falling in the 100k, but he did win gold in the team pursuit. He took silver in the only cycling event at the 1912 Games, the team road race.

Clive Rowlands sends a trademark kick towards touch © Getty Images
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1895
George Halas was born in Chicago. He spent 63 years as owner of Chicago Bears, including 40 as coach, winning the NFL title eight times and pioneering the T formation that's still in use today. It reached its astonishing peak in the NFL Final on December 8, 1940.

1963
One of the most notorious matches in rugby. Notorious as in boring people to death. Clive Rowlands kicked for touch virtually every time he had the ball - and since he was the Wales scrum-half, he had it a lot. Scotland joined in, and there were 111 lineouts in the match. When he wasn't stitching the touchline, Rowlands was aiming at the posts: his drop goal, the only points he ever scored in internationals, helped Wales win 6-0 at Murrayfield. Something had to be done about the amount of time the ball was spending off the pitch. It took a while for the law to be changed, but eventually there was less kicking and more running. Rowlands was captain in all 14 of his matches for Wales. Someone's probably still counting the lineouts in that little lot.

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