• February 21 down the years

The day sweeping gripped a nation

Rhona Martin has her eyes on the prize © Getty Images
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2002
The moment that started the curling craze that swept Britain. In your dreams, you curlers. But it still deserved all the exposure it got: British gold medals at Winter Olympics are rare - especially when they're won by five Scottish women. The team won their semi-final by taking a single point in the final end to beat the Canadians, who had thrashed them 9-4 earlier in the tournament. In the final, it came down to the last stone again. With the scores level at 3-3, Rhona Martin drew a perfect line and weight. As the one who cast the last stone, her name is the one that is remembered, and rightly so. But let us hear it for her sweepers too; gold medallists and MBEs all: Debbie Knox, Fiona MacDonald, Janice Rankin, Margaret Morton.

1980
Robin Cousins won Olympic gold. You wait all those years for a British male gold medallist in skating, then two come along - well, you probably do not, but here they were anyway. When John Curry became Olympic champion on February 11, 1976, 18-year-old Cousins finished tenth. Four years later, he was favourite for gold - if he could stay in touch after the compulsories. He did - then moved in front after the short programme. Moving in a very different, more athletic way to Curry, he won gold by six votes to three. He finished second at the World Championships after this.

2009
Nicola Minichiello and Gillian Cooke became the first British bobsleighers to win gold at the World Championships since 1965. Minichiello had won silver in 2005, but this was Cooke's first season in the event. Lying a close second after two runs, they produced a fast third and steady fourth to finish 0.38 seconds ahead of Americans Shauna Rohbock and Elana Meyers.

1993
The highest anyone has ever gone using just a stick, until Renaud Lavillenie leaped 6.16 metres on February 16, 2014 in Donetsk. Ukrainian superstar Sergiy Bubka had pole vaulted 6.15 indoors. He set the world outdoor record of 6.14 at altitude the following year, which still stands. He finished with 17 outdoor and 18 indoor world records, usually one centimetre at a time because each record brought a cash bonus. Good with figures, you might say.

1915
Godfrey Brown was born in India but ran the 400 metres for Britain and ran it superbly. Being drawn in the outside lane cost him the Olympic gold medal in 1936. According to the official times, he finished two yards behind world record holder Archie Williams. But the electronic times showed it as it was: a gap of two hundredths of a second. Brown's time was a European record and remained the British best for 22 years. For some reason, the USA did not pick Williams or bronze medallist Jim LuValle for the relay, which gave Britain a free run. Brown brought the gold medal home two seconds ahead of the field, sun glinting on his specs. He was European champion at 400m two years later.

1936
At the Alpine skiing World Championships, in conditions "dangerous to human life", Britain's Evie Pinching won the downhill, finishing ten seconds ahead of the silver medallist. Rudi Rominger of Switzerland won the men's race. Pinching also won the combined at the same Championships. She was the last British skier to win an Alpine world title.

2009
The senior races at the English National cross-country championships were won by the 2007 champion Frank Tickner, who regained the title, and Hattie Dean, who won the event for the first time. She had set three British records in the 3000 metres steeplechase two years earlier but was kept out of the 2008 Olympics by a stress fracture.

1988
At the Indian Amateur Championships in snooker, Geet Sethi became the first amateur to make a 147 maximum in competition. Eighteen years later, he was world professional billiards champion for the fifth time.

1956
The world record in the 100 metres freestyle was broken after very nearly 20 years. Wily den Ouden of Holland set her 1 minute 04.6 on 27 February 1936. Today it was bettered by Australia's Dawn Fraser, who went on to become the event's superstar, lowering the world record to 58.9 on February 29, 1964 and winning the Olympic title for the third time on October 13 that year. After lowering Den Ouden's mark, she broke another long-standing record on February 25.

1992
Tiny Stefania Belmondo was an Italian cross-country skier who weighed only 7½ stone. It did not stop her winning gold in the 30 kilometres at the Winter Olympics. About half of the 127 people who lived in her village nipped over to France to cheer her on. Some of them probably travelled to the USA to see her win the 15 k at the Games ten years later.

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