On This Day

  • February 18 down the years

Tomba the bomba strikes gold

Alberto Tomba: A thrilling sight in full flow © Getty Images
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1992
Alberto Tomba won the giant slalom for the second Winter Olympics in a row. Leading after the first run (for a change), he fell off the pace on his second, but made up the time with a typical barnstorming finish. He was to the first skier to win the same Olympic event twice.

1994
Ten years after their Bolero wowed the world on February 14, Torvill and Dean were back at the Winter Olympics. If things had stayed the same, there's a chance they would have won gold again. But new rules meant no classical music, and the die was cast at the European Championships on January 21. T & D won, but only by a trick in the scoring after another couple had stolen the show. Dean desperately altered their routine, bringing in ballroom elements to make it more judge-friendly. It didn't work. They skated to Let's Face The Music And Dance, which summed it up. There was some controversy about the gold medallists' routine, but Torvill and Dean wouldn't have won whatever happened. In the circumstances, they did well to get the bronze.

1967
Colin Jackson was born in Cardiff. If he'd won that elusive Olympic gold, we'd be discussing the most successful high hurdler in history. He was already the one with the best style, give or take, fluid and fast. But his relatively slight build meant he couldn't hit hurdles and survive - unlike, say, Allen Johnson, who hit eight out of ten and still won the Olympics in 1996. Jackson finished fourth in that race, and fifth in 2000. Back in 1988, he'd taken the silver medal - and his best chance came four years after that, when he ran 13.10 in the first round. The final was won in 13.12 - but by Jackson's training partner, the Canadian Mark McKoy, who later admitted taking drugs during his career. A muscle injury in the second round affected Jackson's trailing leg; he hit the first two hurdles and finished seventh. Away from these cruel Games, he won everything that mattered. Two World Championship golds, two at the Commonwealth Games, four in a row at the European Championships. He showed his great starting speed by winning the 60-metre double at the 1994 European Indoors: sprint as well as hurdles. His 12.91 at the 1993 Worlds was a world record until 2006. He's probably still cursing that pulled muscle in 1992.

1994
Dan Jansen's Olympic gold. At last. After all the tumbles he'd taken. Until today, Jansen was more famous for falling down at Winter Olympics than the speedskating world records he set. He crashed out of the 500 and 1000 metres in 1988, finished fourth and 26th in 1992, and slipped during the 500 in 1994. Seven races in ten years and no medal. He still had the 1,000 metres to come, but you could name your own odds against him staying upright. With 400 to go, he was on world record pace. Then, with two corners left, he slipped yet again. His hand touched the ice and he nearly tripped over a lane marker. But this time he didn't go down, and his gold medal time was a world best. Naturally Hollywood made a film of it. Don't go there.

1947
Carlos Lopes was born in Portugal. Without a change of pace, he couldn't quite reach the top on the track, finishing a distant second to Lasse Virén in the 10,000 metres at the 1976 Olympics. His own coach called him 'a man of no great natural ability.' But on other surfaces, his strong even-paced running was more successful. He was world cross-country champion three times. The first showed he was in shape for that Olympic race against Virén, the second did the same for his attempt at the Marathon in the 1984 Games. He was 37 by then, but the strength was still there. He injected a crushing five-kilometre burst towards the end of the race and won comfortably. His time of 2 hours 9 minutes and 21 seconds was a Games record until 2008, and he won Portugal's first Olympic gold medal in any sport. The second was won four years later by Rosa Mota, also in the Marathon.

1978
Gareth Edwards scored his last try for Wales, ten years after his first. A typical burst from a scrum near the line contributed to a 22-14 win in Cardiff. His total of 20 was a national record at the time. Scotland's attacking full-back Andy Irvine missed the game after 26 internationals in a row.

1995
Just to show Frank Bruno had iron fists as well as a glass jaw. He knocked out Puerto Rican Rodolfo Marín in 65 seconds on the way to his last shot at a world title on September 2. Marín wasn't a slippery stepping stone. He'd lost his previous fight and lost four of his next five before retiring.

Frank Bruno wasted no time in clubbing Rudolfo Marin to the deck © Getty Images
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2006
Star Norwegian skier Kjetil André Aamodt won the super giant slalom for the third time. He'd previously won it on February 16 four years earlier and back in 1992. He was 35 in 2006, the oldest male skier to win gold at the Winter Olympics.

1978
The first Ironman triathlon was held in Hawaii. Two US Navy personnel finished first and second. Gordon Haller won the event, John Dunbar might have done better if his support staff hadn't run out of water during the Marathon run. They gave him beer instead.

1930
In his previous fight, 20-year-old British boxer Jack 'Kid' Berg had hammered the great Tony Canzoneri all round the ring. Somehow he won only a split decision, but the win was enough to give him a shot at Mushy Callahan's NBA world light-welterweight title. In a fight between two Jewish boxers forced to change their names to fit public taste, Berg (real name Judah Bergman) took on Callahan (Vincent Morris Scheer) at London's Albert Hall. His straight left held off Callahan's left hooks to the body, and his speed kept beating the champion to the punch. Callahan retired with a broken nose after ten rounds. He fought three more fights in the next two years before packing it in. Berg lost the championship to Canzoneri (who also kept his world lightweight title) but didn't retire until 1945.

1870
Robert Murray was born in Edinburgh and won gold in shooting at the 1912 Olympics. In the running deer double shot team, no less. He also finished in the top six in both the small bore individual with disappearing targets and small bore individual from any position. Repeat that in reverse order.

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