On This Day

  • February 19 down the years

A great day on the track for Britain

Mafe and Regis: Track greats for Britain © Getty Images
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1989
The European Indoor Athletics Championships ended. British winners: Ade Mafe in the 200 (with John Regis second), Steve Heard in the 800, Colin Jackson at 60 metre hurdles, Sally Gunnell in the 400 metres flat. Holland's pocket dynamo Nelli Cooman won the 60 metres for the fifth time in a row, equalling a record that still stands.

2005
The formidable Bernard Hopkins made the last successful defence of his world titles. He had four of them in all. WBC, IBF and WBO middleweight, and WBA super-middleweight. Having spent years collecting them, he wasn't going to hand them over easily. Not to Oscar de la Hoya in his previous fight. And certainly not to Britain's Howard Eastman tonight. Eastman is invariably described as flamboyant. As in dyed hair and beard and flashy punches. No hair dye today, but no shortage of punches, making use of his longer reach. Against another 40-year-old, he might have won the title. But a spell in jail made Hopkins a late starter and a determined man. Eastman caught him several times early on, but by about the ninth round Hopkins was beating him to the punch and tying him up in clinches. Eastman never gave up, but the decision was rightly unanimous. He was 34 by then, and this was his last crack at a world title. He won British and Guyanese championships from then on. It was Hopkins's 20th successful defence of the IBF belt. He lost all his titles to Jermain Taylor in July and won a thing called the IBO light-heavyweight title in 2006.

1995
Linford Christie's only world record: 20.25 seconds for 200 metres indoors. It's still the best by a European sprinter.

1962
Hana Mandlíková was born in Prague. Received wisdom has it that she didn't make the most of her tennis talent, but that's mainly because she didn't win Wimbledon, and there are other tournaments in the world. Still, yes, with those all-round racquet skills and that smooth movement round the court, she might have won a little more. But she did have Martina Navrátilová and Chris Evert to contend with, so her Grand Slam record looks pretty good considering. She lost Wimbledon finals to both of them and two US Open finals to Evert. But she beat Navrátilová to win the US and regain the Australian Open, and won the French in 1980. She helped Czechoslovakia win the Fed Cup three years in a row. Her father Vilem Mandlík was a sprinter who competed at the Olympic Games in 1956 and 1960.

Seeing double: Steve and Phil Mahre © Getty Images
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1984
Identical twins won gold and silver. At the Winter Olympics, Phil Mahre won the slalom ahead of his brother Steve. But it's almost certain they'd have been one medal further down the queue if reigning champion Ingemar Stenmark had been allowed to compete. In an era where just about everyone was earning buckets of cash from this supposedly amateur sport, he was suddenly banned for professionalism.

Five years later, Stenmark won a World Cup race for the 86th time, far and away the record. The next highest total is 54, reached on November 30 2008.

1881
Wales's debut at rugby has been quietly airbrushed from history. Because no actual points were awarded at the time, books and websites simply leave this match off their records pages - when it was Wales' heaviest defeat until 1998. The match was played at Blackheath and the teams changed at the nearby Princess of Wales pub. The name wasn't a good omen for the Welsh. England scored 13 tries, an international record until 1951. Harry Vassell scored three of them on his debut before GW (George William) Burton became the first player to score four in an international match, while England captain Lennie Stokes was the first player to kick five conversions. In fact he kicked six, and Bob Hunt kicked another and dropped a goal. In today's currency, England won 82-0. Ten of the Welsh players won only this one cap, including the captain Jim Bevan and Bathurst Bellers Mann, whose name wouldn't have looked out of place in the England line-up.

1994
That American pocket dynamo Bonnie Blair won the same event at the Winter Olympics for the third time in a row. It helped that the previous Games had been held only two years earlier as they changed to a cycle that avoided the Summer Olympics - but it doesn't devalue anything very much. She was the queen of 500-metre speedskating. Not as fast as in 1988, when she'd shattered the world record. But even more dominant, winning by 0.36 seconds, almost double her previous two margins put together. Four days later, she retained the 1000 metres title.

1966
Paul Haarhuis was born in Holland. With Jacco Eltingh, he won the Wimbledon doubles title - on the same day that their countryman Dennis Bergkamp scored a sumptuous late winner against Argentina in the football World Cup. In the final, Eltingh and Haarhuis won 10-8 in the fifth set to take revenge on the Australian favourites, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, who'd beaten them in the final the previous year. Haarhuis finished runner-up again, with different partners, in 1999 and 2000.

1877
Scotland's first rugby match against Ireland was played in Belfast. It was also the first in which they played 15 players instead of 20. As expected, they were far too good for the Irish XV. New cap Robert Mackenzie became the first player in any international match to score three tries and the first to drop two goals. Scotland scored six tries in all, a 44-0 win under today's system.

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