On This Day

  • February 8 down the years

Hunter Masters O'Sullivan

Paul Hunter made the Masters his own © Getty Images
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2004
Snooker's glamour boy Paul Hunter could actually play the game. Today he became Masters champion for the third time in four years. He trailed Ronnie O'Sullivan throughout the final, from 2-0 to 9-7 down, before taking the last three frames. No shortage of nerve here: he won all his Masters finals 10-9. Hunter was only 27 when he died of cancer in 2006.

1964
The great Mike Gibson made his international debut. Playing at fly-half, he orchestrated Ireland's first win at Twickenham since their Grand Slam year of 1948. Gibson made the first try, went off briefly with cramp, then came back and made another one, going through gaps with 'the easy anonymity of a superbly cut Savile Row suit'. Ireland won 18-5. Gibson won a world record number of caps, the last 15 years later on June 16, 1979.

1997
Naseem Hamed unified two world featherweight titles by stopping American Tom Johnson in the eighth round. But when you mention Naseem, you're talking style over substance. These were the WBO and IBF titles.

2000
Tiger Woods won a sixth tournament in a row. At the National Pro-Am in Pebble Beach, he was seven shots behind with seven holes to play but finished with an eagle and two birdies to win by two. He was the first golfer to win six in a row since Ben Hogan in 1948. He went one better on January 28, 2007.

2001
The IAAF banned Mark Richardson for two years after testing positive for nandrolone in October. But Athletics UK acquitted him in June. He'd helped Britain win silver in the 4x400 metres relay at the 1996 Olympics and the 1997 World Championships. Ironically, the World silver was upgraded to gold when an American tested positive.

1587
Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded. The cloth from her billiard table was used to cover her body.

1959
Heinz Günthardt was born in Zurich. He was Wimbledon doubles champion in 1985 but played poorly in the mixed doubles final of 1986, after which Martina Navrátilová looked daggers: she'd missed her last chance to win all three Wimbledon titles in the same year. He won 30 ATP doubles titles in his career.

1959
Irina Kalinina was born in the USSR. She was Olympic champion at springboard diving in 1980. At the World Championship, she won gold in 1975 and 1978, and did almost as well on the highboard, working her up from bronze in 1973 to silver in 1975 and gold in 1978.

1960
Linda Fratianne was born in California. World ice skating champion in 1977 and 1979, she finished second at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid despite having cosmetic surgery on her nose and hiring a coach to teach her how to smile during competition.

1970
Alonzo Mourning was born in Virginia. Basketball star who came back from a kidney transplant to win the NBA title with the Miami Heat in 2006.

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