Rob Wood

Rob's Sports, Fitness & Science Blog

Entries Tagged as 'Major Events'

50 Years Ago In Sport

June 23rd, 2016 · No Comments · Major Events, Sport

The year 1966 is a very significant one for me as it is the year I was born. A lot has changed in the world of sports since then, when I think about the sports I followed growing up and the athletes who have come and gone.

In most parts, sport in 1966 was played without the hype and celebrity mania of today’s elite sport. One exception of the day was Muhammad Ali, who only passed away very recently. Ali was at the peak of his career in 1966, both in his boxing and public life. He defended his title five times, though shortly after he was in the midst of controversy for refusing to be inducted into the armed forces to fight in the Vietnam War. Up until that time he was the undefeated and undisputed heavyweight champion, however he would not fight again until 1970.

Boxer Muhammad Ali

Boxer Muhammad Ali was at the peak of his career

One of the major events of the year was the FIFA World Cup tournament, one that will particularly live on in the memories of the English fans. In a hotly contested final, the host country England won their first and only World Cup title by defeating West Germany 4-2 after extra time. As time ran out, the sealer was struck to the famous words by BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme “Some people are on the pitch. They think it’s all over. It is now!”

The English were also involved in the Commonwealth Games (then called the British Commonwealth Games) which were held in Kingston, Jamaica. The Asian Games were in Bangkok, Thailand and the Central American and Caribbean Games held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The year saw the emergence of a young American women’s tennis star Billie Jean King who won her first grand slam title. It was the start of a career that would finish with a total of 12 grand slam titles. Margaret Court won the Australian Open for the seventh straight time, a feat that has not been achieved by any other man or women. Both of these women would years later be famously involved in the battle of the sexes matches against Bobby Riggs.

Golfing legend Jack Nicklaus successfully defended his Masters Tournament title, which was also his third win at the event. He also won The Open Championship for the first time in his career and his sixth major title. With these wins be became the fourth player to win all four major professional championships. Considering his lifetime achievements in which he would win 18 majors, the last one in 1986, this was just the beginning for The Golden Bear.

Jack Brabham won the F1 driver’s championship for the third and last time, one of 10 drivers who have achieved this feat in the history of the event. He is the only driver to win a championship in a car of his own team.

This is just a sample of the highlights from 1966. On our sports timeline you can read more details of the sporting results from 1966.

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Rio Medal Predictions Change Over Time

May 18th, 2016 · No Comments · Olympic Games

Wouldn’t it be great to know the results before the Olympic Games start? For the London Olympics in 2012 I made a prediction for the final medal tally. It was mostly based on my own guesswork, and surprisingly was not too far wrong in the end. For the Rio Games, I predict that the USA will again win the most medals, a pretty safe bet, but not based on any specialist knowledge or special formula. However, I prefer to rely on those a little more knowledgeable to predict the results.

There are plenty of people making predictions about the upcoming Rio Olympics. There are two main categories of medal count predictions. One way to predict the final medal tally is from scholars using economics and a range of factors to base their predictions. The other is to use actual competition results leading up to the Olympics to predict the specific winners of each event. After the London Games, I compared some of these predictions to the final medal count, and predictions using both of these methods were quite accurate.

It seems more logical to base the predictions on actual sports results, and we would assume that the most recent results would be the best indicators. The company Gracenote (was Infostrada) sports regularly update their predictions based on sporting results from around the world. The graphs below show how their predictions have changed over the last year for the top three countries. While the predictions of the actual number of medals has varied, the order has not changed – the USA is predicted to win both the most medals and most golds.

predicted gold

The most recent medal predictions, made with 100 days to go, show the USA pulling away from China and Russia on the table above. A factor that has not been considered is that Russian athletes may still be banned from attending the Games, which would put a large dent in their medal count.

predicted total

I will continue to monitor the changes in these predictions leading up to the Games, and afterwards I will again compare these predictions to the actual results. So far I am feeling pretty confident about my prediction of the USA leading the medal count, it will be a big upset if they don’t.

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10 Great Olympians You Probably Have Never Heard Of

May 12th, 2016 · No Comments · Olympic Games

With the Olympics just on the horizon, we’ll be hearing and talking a lot about some current great Olympic athletes such as Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, and even past greats such as Jesse Owens, Nadia Comaneci and Mark Spitz. These popular names are only a small sample of great athletes who have graced the Olympic stage since the inaugural Games over 100 years ago. Listed below are 10 Olympians who I believe have had amazing Olympic careers and deserve greater recognition for their achievements. Have you heard of any of these athletes?

Elisabeta Lipă

Elisabeta Lipă is a former Romanian rowing athlete who had a spectacular Olympic career. She is currently the most accomplished rower in the history of the Olympics with five gold medals, two silver medals and one bronze medal. She competed in six straight Olympics from 1984 to 2004 and won a gold medal in every Olympics except 1988 where she picked up a silver and bronze.

Carl Schuhmann

Carl Schuhmann was a multi-sport German athlete who contested in the Olympics and won medals in Gymnastics and Wrestling. He was the most successful athlete in the inaugural modern Olympics held in 1896. He won three gold medals in gymnastics and one gold medal in wrestling. He also contested in weightlifting and finished fourth.

Ray Ewry is one of the most successful athletes of all-time in the Olympics. He won eight individual gold medals in track and field events.

Ray Ewry

Ray Ewry is one of the most successful athletes of all-time in the Olympics. The American won a total of eight individual gold medals in track and field events which stood as a record for 100 years until it was broken by compatriot Michael Phelps in 2008. His record still holds good for the most individual gold medals won by any athlete in track and field.

Birgit Fischer

Birgit Fischer is a former canoe athlete who holds the distinct record of being the youngest and the oldest athlete ever to win a canoeing gold medal. The German has won a record eight gold medals and four silver medals in a career that spanned seven Olympic Games from 1980 to 2004.

Larisa Latynina

Larisa Latynina is an ex-Soviet Union gymnast who contested in three Olympics from 1956 to 1964. She has won a total of 18 medals, 14 individual and four team. Her 14 individual medals still stand as the record for the most number of individual medals any athlete has ever won in the Olympics. Her 18 total medals stood as a record for 48 years before it was surpassed in 2012 (by Phelps).

Aladar Gerevich

Aladár Gerevich was a Hungarian fencing athlete who had an extremely successful outing at the Olympics. Regarded as the greatest fencer of all-time, Aladár contested seven games from 1932 to 1960 and won seven gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals. The 28 year span between his first and last gold medal remained as the longest successful Olympic run be anyone until it was tied in 2012.

Edoardo Mangiarotti

Edoardo Mangiarotti was a fencer who has had the most success in the history of Olympic fencing. The Italian participated in the Games from 1936 – 1960 and won six gold, five silver and two bronze medals. His total of 13 medals to this date remains as the highest number of medals won by any athlete in fencing.

Reiner Klimke

Reiner Klimke was an equestrian athlete from Germany who contested in Olympic dressage competition. He still holds the record for the most number of Olympic appearances by any equestrian athlete at six. In his Olympic span between 1960-1988, he won six gold medals, one in each of his appearances, and two bronze medals.

Gert Fredriksson

Gert Fredriksson was a Swedish canoe athlete who to date is one of the most successful men in the history of Olympic canoeing, and the highest individual medal winner from Sweden. Gert won a total of six gold medals, one silver and one bronze in four Olympics from 1948 to 1960.

Sawao Kato

Sawao Kato is a former Japanese gymnast who is one of the most successful athletes in the history of the Olympics. He contested in three Olympics between 1968 and 1976 and won 12 total medals, which includes eight gold medals, one of the few athletes to have won eight or more gold medals at the Olympics.

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25 Years Ago in Sport

December 7th, 2015 · No Comments · Major Events, Sport

We have previously looked back at 50 years ago in sport. As the year is coming to an end, it is time to look back at sport just 25 years ago – 1990 – long enough for the sporting scenery to have a different look, but still alive in many of our memories.

It was a year many records tumbled and many legends were made. But this can overshadow the fact that 1990 was a year where major changes in sports were made. It was the year where at a Yankee Stadium rally, Nelson Mandela donned a NY Yankee baseball cap and proclaimed “I am a Yankee!”

Also in this year Buster Douglas defeated Mike Tyson by a knockout in round 10 to win the world’s unified Heavyweight title, in what many consider boxing’s biggest upset ever. He then later agreed to defend his title against Evander Holyfield for $24 million where he was dethroned by Holyfield in a third-round knockout in Las Vegas.

Poster from the FIFA World Cup in 1990

Poster from the FIFA World Cup in 1990

West Germany beat Argentina 1-0 for football’s 14th World Cup in Italy in 1990. The US open tennis championships crowned their youngest ever champion when 19 year old Pete Sampras who was ranked No. 81 only a year before beat Andre Agassi to win the title.

Nick Faldo won the golf masters (his second win) and went on to win the British Open and became the second man since Tom Watson in 1982 to achieve this feat.

Jari Kurri set a record for scoring in a Stanley Cup Finals game, registering three goals and two assists in game 2 against the Boston Bruins, on the way to victory for the Edmonton Oilers, winning their fifth Stanley Cup in seven years.

1990 was a year where many future legends of the game were born. Players like German world cup winner Toni Kroos (football/soccer) who scored a hat trick against Brazil in the semifinal of the 2014 soccer world cup. Former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki (tennis) was also born in 1990. The woman who has taken world cricket by storm, Australian Ellyse Perry was also born in 1990. Other notable people born were Mario Balotelli (football/soccer), John Tavares (ice hockey), and Tao Li (swimming).

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The Future of Rugby?

October 14th, 2015 · No Comments · Major Events, Rugby Union, Technology

The 2015 Rugby World Cup which is currently in progress has embraced technology with the use of the Hawk-Eye system to help the referee adjudicate decisions, as well as assist with player safety by identifying possible concussion instances and behind play incidents (see more about technology in sports). Is this a step towards the possible futuristic rugby player imagined by the team at bwin in their Alternative Guide to the 2015 Rugby World Cup. They came up with the following possible innovations that we may or may not see in Rugby World Cup competitions of the future. Some food for thought.

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Rugby players of the future Rugby players of the future

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50 Years Ago in Sport

July 24th, 2015 · 2 Comments · Major Events, Sport

50 years ago the sporting scenery was very different. Some well-known athletes were making their mark, but were not the celebrities that athletes are today. There were many legends in the making while others were reaching the twilight of their career.

It was a year where the famous “phantom punch” was dealt by Muhammad Ali who retained the world heavyweight title he had won as Cassius Clay. The rematch against Sonny Liston in May never went beyond the first round and Liston was knocked-out by a phantom punch that nobody saw in one minute and 44 seconds.

Purdue vs. SMU Program Cover (1965)

Purdue vs. SMU Program Cover (1965)

Also Jack Nicklaus shot a Masters record 271 (17 under par) to win the Golf Masters by nine strokes, his second win at that time. In other golf news, Gary Player became the third man after Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen to win the four major championships when he triumphed in the US Open at Bellerive, Missouri.

West Ham became the second British club to win a European Trophy when they beat Bayern Munich, 2 – 0 at Wembley in the European Cup-Winners Cup whereas Liverpool won the FA Cup for the first time defeating Leeds United 2-1.

Also in 1965 the Amateur Swimming Union of Australia stunned the nation with its decision to ban Olympic champion and 1964 Australian of the Year Dawn Fraser from all amateur competition for ten years.

In cricket, Australian opener Doug Walters made his maiden Test ton in his first Test appearance, and went on to make 155 runs. Baseballer Willie Mays hit over 50 home runs in 1965, repeating what he had done 10 years earlier. Marking the start of an era for the New York Jets, they signed quarterback Joe Namath. The US ABC TV network paid an unprecedented $32 million for a four-year contract with the NCAA to broadcast football games on Saturday afternoons.

In major events, the All-Africa Games, otherwise known as the “African Olympics” was first held in Congo.

1965 was the year where many great sport personalities were born

1965 was also a year where great athletes like Craig Biggio, considered being one of the best all-around position players in MLB club history was born.  Mario Lemieux, a former NHL superstar acknowledged to be one of the greatest players of all time was also one of the most notable athletes to be born in 1965. Also cricketers Steve Waugh,  Sanjay Manjrekar and Maninder Singh were born in this year. Other notable athletes born in 1965 include Lennox Lewis (Boxing), Rubén Sierra (Baseball), Scottie Pippen (basketball), Matt Biondi (Swimming).

The Freddie Mills death saga and other notable deaths

The world light heavyweight champion from 1948 to 1950 Freddie Mills’ death saga is known to all in the boxing fraternity.  Freddie Mills died from gunshot wounds in mysterious circumstances in Soho, London. It was officially described as suicide but others attempted to give Mills’ death a more sinister ring and suggested he was the victim of a gangland ‘hit’.  English cricketer of South African origin Wally Hammond and College basketball legend Wayne Estes also died in the year 1965. Other notable deaths included that of Earl Webb (baseball), Tich Freeman (cricket), and Almos Alonzo Stagg (football).

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The Olympics and the Seasons

January 9th, 2015 · No Comments · Olympic Games

On Topend Sports there is a list of Olympic Games Firsts, which inspired a reader, Hank Wisniewski of Austin, Texas, U.S.A., to send me a personal message with some very interesting information I just had to share with you.

He pointed out that the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will be the first to take place entirely in winter (to be held from 5 Aug 2016 to 21 Aug 2016).  A wintertime Summer Olympics is only ever going to be held in the southern hemisphere. The two other southern hemisphere Olympic Games, in Melbourne and Sydney, were held in spring and summer (local time). The 2000 Summer Games in Sydney was held completely during spring (15 September 2000 to 1 October 2000), and the Melbourne Summer Olympics were held over spring and summer (22 Nov 1956 to 8 Dec 1956).

Hank went on with more details about the timing of both the Winter and Summer Olympics.

Here is the rest of his message …

I thought it might be interesting to point out which Summer Olympics took place farthest from the equator and which Winter Olympics were closest to the equator, but after I started organizing the data I realized that since the Olympics have been held at various times of the year, the fact that the sun’s position covers almost 47 degrees of latitude from solstice to solstice makes those other facts irrelevant.  However, following my original thought, I found a web page that calculates the sun’s latitude for any day of the year, and for each Olympics I subtracted from the city’s latitude the sun’s latitude on the date directly between the opening and closing ceremonies.  To my surprise, when I sorted my list according to those angles, there was no overlap between Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics, even though the difference between the lowest sun peak in a Summer Olympics and the highest sun peak in a Winter Olympics is only 3.7 degrees!

The top five Summer Olympics held when and where the sun’s latitude was farthest from the host city’s latitude are…

  1. 1964, Tokyo, Japan (46.0°)
  2. 1972, Munich, West Germany (40.8°)
  3. 1952, Helsinki, Finland (40.8°)
  4. 1988, Seoul, South Korea (39.0°)
  5. 1912, Stockholm, Sweden (37.7°)

The top five Winter Olympics held when and where the sun’s latitude was/will be closest to the host city’s latitude are…

  1. 1960, Squaw Valley, United States (49.7°)
  2. 2018, PyeongChang, South Korea (50.0°)
  3. 1998, Nagano, Japan (50.3°)
  4. 2002, Salt Lake City, United States (53.7°)
  5. 1980, Lake Placid, United States (56.6°)
Winter Olympic Games cauldron in Vancouver, Canada

The Winter Olympic Games cauldron in Vancouver, Canada

While I’m at it, here are the extremes:

The Top Five Summer Olympics When & Where the Sun’s Latitude Was/Will Be Closest to the Host City’s Latitude:

  1. 1996, Atlanta, United States (14.6°)
  2. 1956, Melbourne, Australia (15.8°)
  3. 1984, Los Angeles, United States (16.9°)
  4. 1932, Los Angeles, United States (17.5°)
  5. 2020, Tokyo, Japan (17.8°)

The Top Five Winter Olympics When & Where the Sun’s Latitude Was Farthest from the Host City’s Latitude:

  1. 1994, Lillehammer, Norway (73.1°)
  2. 1952, Oslo, Norway (71.9°)
  3. 1956, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy (64.3°)
  4. 1964, Innsbruck, Austria (64.2°)
  5. 1924, Chamonix, France (64.0°)

By the way, the first Olympics to be held within the tropics were the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City. The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio will be the second time!

Hank has also provided me with the time zones for every Winter and Summer Olympics.

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Rio Olympic Games Mascot Announced

December 1st, 2014 · No Comments · Olympic Games

The Olympic Games mascot for Rio 2016 has recently been announced, a yet unnamed yellow creature. It is supposed to represent all the animals of Brazil. (There is another one, for the Paralympics, which represents all the plants of Brazil). I can definitely see a cat and monkey in there, though I’m not sure  what other animals it incorporates. Blue hands, green tail?

Unlike in recent times, the public were not consulted to choose the mascot, which is  a good thing as the general population are not the experts in marketing, and the aim of creating a mascot is clearly stated as being to make lots of money on merchandise! The general population still do have a say – they can help pick the names. There is a short-list of three choices, Oba and Eba; Tiba Tuque and Esquindim; and Vinicius and Tom. My vote is for Oba and Eda. I have no idea of the meanings of each of the names, Oba and Eda just  sound the coolest.

rio olympic mascot

my selfie with the Rio Olympic Games mascot

On the official Rio website you can go and make your own selfie with the mascot (like I did), and also cast your vote for the mascot names.

I’m glad there is just one mascot for the Olympic Games, as it was for London. When I saw that there were five mascots for Beijing in 2004, all I could think of was that they had trouble picking the best one to use. Sydney also struggled making a decision and had three mascots. Using a single mascot that represents an animal from the host country is what has been traditionally used. You can see our list of previous Olympic Games mascots.

What do you think of the mascot? Let me know in the comment section below.

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Creative World Cup Team Nicknames

May 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · FIFA World Cup, Football (Soccer)

Looking through the list of Team Nicknames of the teams of the 2014 The FIFA  World Cup, I have to question the imagination of many of the people who have come up with the names. There is a group of teams that basically don’t have a nickname, they just have a variation of the term ‘the national team‘ in their respective language (e.g. Germany, Iran, Switzerland). Equally uninspiring, many nicknames are derived from national colors – such as the Blues (France), the Reds (Chile), Orange (Netherlands) and the Tri-Colors (Ecuador, Mexico). At least some add a bit of spice to the color name game, such as the Red Fury (Spain), Red Devils (Belgium), and the Black Stars (Ghana).

Not all the names are so bland. If you could create an nickname, wouldn’t you want one that would strike fear in the opposition, like the Dragons from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, and and my all time favorite The Pirate Ship (Greece)? There are also Super Eagles (Nigeria) and Elephants (Ivory Coast) to contend with. But there is nothing as fearful as my team’s nickname – the Socceroos! Unfortunately a fearsome team nickname does not necessarily equate to success, as the tournament favourites are commonly known as the Little Canaries (Brazil). Whaoo scary!

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Unusual Ways To Carry The Olympic Games Torch

July 29th, 2013 · No Comments · Olympic Games

torch-relay-runEach Olympic Games torch relay begins with a torch being lit by the sun’s rays at the ancient site of Olympia, after which it is passed by torch from person to person all the way to the Olympic stadium in the host city. The torch relay tradition started in 1936 and this is one of the few times where just runners have carried it all of the way (it also happened in 1948 and 1980).

Recent Olympic torch relays have been a competition to see which host can have the most bizarre transport method. I have come up with a  large list of alternative transport types for the torch. Some of the more unusual transportation types include space ships and along a zip wire. In 1976 the flame was sent by radio signal between Greece and Canada and in 2000 it went underwater at the Great Barrier Reef. For the Sochi Games the Russians are taking it into space again. It will be interesting to see where else it goes, and also what the Rio organisers can come up with. Any suggestions?

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