On This Day

  • February 14 down the years

Torvill and Dean's Bolero

Torvill and Dean: Poetry on ice © Getty Images
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1984
Torvill and Dean's Bolero. It used to be Ravel's Bolero, but some cover versions become the standard. Christopher Dean liked pushing the boundaries of ice dancing. Only allowed so many changes in tempo? OK, let's have no changes in tempo. Can't shorten Ravel's tune any further? OK, let's start the performance by kneeling down. The rest you know. Perfect sixes across the board and Winter Olympic gold.

1951
Sugar Ray Robinson won the world middleweight title for the first time. He won it five times in all, but only because he kept losing it. But right now he wasn't losing to anyone. In fact not since Jake LaMotta outpointed him on February 5 eight years earlier. Since then, Robinson had come through 91 fights, no less, including three against LaMotta and six for the world welterweight title. He abdicated that throne to campaign among the bigger boys, and now he was back in with his mate Jake. LaMotta had won the title when the great Marcel Cerdan injured a shoulder, and kept it with a last-minute frenzy against another Frenchman when he was behind on points. Here he came forward as he always did, but that just made him a target. Sugar Ray bounced him round the ring for 13 rounds. The amazing thing is that Jake didn't go down, though today's referee would have stopped it earlier. Robinson went on to meet a British Challenge on July 10. LaMotta fought for another three years, but never again for the world title. He faced Robinson six times and beat him just that once.

2014
Sir Tom Finney, Preston North End's most famous son, died aged 91. Finney emerged as one of this country's greatest talents in the post-war era and made his debut for North End in 1946. He remained with the club until his retirement in 1960. Finney scored 210 goals in 473 appearances for the Lillywhites, while his record for England was equally eye-catching, with 30 goals in 76 appearances.

1988
Bowls legend David Bryant won his third world outdoor singles title, a record that looks likely to stand for many years yet. Here in Auckland, he won 25-22 against Scotland's Willie Wood, who was runner-up for the second time in a row. Bryant had been the first world champion, on October 23, 22 years earlier. He won all three of his singles titles in Australia or New Zealand.

2004
Marco Pantani died of a cocaine overdose. Drugs, tragically, were his thing. He was caught with too many red blood cells during the 1999 Giro d'Italia, left the sport, and tried to bury his demons in white powder. He lived in Hell and his death was only a matter of time. But drugs are cycling's thing, not just his, and he was simply one who got caught. In 1998, he achieved the rare double of winning the Giro and the Tour de France in the same year. His goatee and the bandana tied round his bald head made Il Pirata to Italians, and he was a real corsair in the mountains. One of the great climbers of all time, he destroyed former champion Pavel Tonkov to win the Giro. "I couldn't feel my hands and feet," said the Russian. "I had to let him go." In the Tour de France the following month, Pantani did the same to the defending champion, the seemingly invincible Jan Ullrich. The Pirate's attack on the Alpe d'Huez was the stuff of legend. It was the last climb of the race, his last chance to win it. But with a time trial to come, he needed to beat Ullrich by more than seven minutes to have any chance. Just impossible. In rain and darkness, he won by nine. He was the first Italian to win the Tour de France in 33 years. Sadly, it's all in context now.

1925
Most goals in a senior rugby league match. When Wigan beat mighty Flimby & Fothergill 116-0 in the Challenge Cup, Jim Sullivan kicked 22 goals. He kicked more than 6,000 points in his career, but these were just about the softest.

2003
Nick Duncombe died when he was only 21. Of meningitis on a trip to Lanzarote. The previous year, he won two caps for England at scrum-half, coming on as sub in big wins over Scotland and Ireland.

1916
No-one counted how many fights Jimmy Wilde had before losing one. Officially, as a professional: 102. But the ones that weren't recorded, in fairground booths and the like, probably ran into several hundreds. He won the European flyweight title before that first loss, then fought another 13 times in the next year before facing young Joe Symonds today. Wilde took the British flyweight title from him with a 12th-round stoppage 'after a strenuous contest'. The British called it a world title fight, but the Americans wanted Wilde to fight their own man on December 18.

2000
Matthew Stevens lost two World Championship finals in snooker, but he won the Masters today. Ken Doherty missed the final black in attempting a 147 maximum, and lost in the final for the second year in a row, each time by ten frames to eight.

Judy Oakes was one powerful lady © Getty Images
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1913
An altogether more successful snooker player was born. And billiards player. Fred Davis didn't match the numbers of his brother Joe, but he was up there with the best. Joe won his last world title in 1946. The following year, Fred lost in the final. He won it the year after that and eight times in all. Ten years after his last win, he lost a challenge for the title when he was 53. He was 67 when he won the world billiards title in 1980, and 71 when he played his last world snooker championship. The game got on the box just in time to project his smile and sportsmanship. Much-loved grandaddy of them all.

1968
The Protopopovs. There's a name to play with. And re-runs to admire. Husband and wife Oleg Protopopov and Ludmila Belousova skated with a sensuousness and (let's say the word) love that stands out on the black-and-white film, setting new standards in pairs ice skating. Today they won their second successive gold at the Winter Olympics. She was 32, he was 35. They defected to the West in 1976.

1958
Judy Oakes was born in London. When she retained the shot putt title in 1998, she was 40, the oldest female athlete to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal. She won six medals in the event, another Games record, the first in 1978, including three golds spread over 16 years. She campaigned long and hard for a fourth gold, on the grounds that Gael Mulhall Martin, the Australian who beat her into second place in 1986, had returned from a drug suspension. Competing in the golden age of steroids, Oakes won only one European medal, indoors in 1979, when there were only two other competitors! Her shot putt of 19.36 metres in 1988 is still the British record. She was a world champion in powerlifting three times.

1923
Jay Hebert was born Junius Joseph Hebert in Louisiana. He was USPGA golf champion in 1960. His brother Lionel won the same Major three years earlier.

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