It was a momentous year with two Britons in a singles final at Wimbledon. Not since Dorothea Lambert Chambers had beaten Ethel Larcombe in 1914, had Britain been guaranteed a champion. Forty-seven years was a long time to wait and the nation did not let the occasion go unnoticed. Their dilemma was who to support; Christine Truman an exuberant player with a powerful forehand, or Angela Mortimer a fighter who made up for her lack of skill with determination. The nation chose Truman with her girl-next-door charm.
Truman came storming back from 4 - 2 down in the opening set to win 6 - 4.. She was poised to take a 5 - 3 lead in the second set when she fell awkwardly when charging to the net on break point. She injured her left thigh and although she continued to play, her movement around the court had slowed. Mortimer won the set and though Truman fought back bravely Mortimer held on to win 4-6, 6 - 4, 7 - 5.
July 13 was no day to venture along the Lancashire coast. A storm had whipped up off the Irish Sea and the driving rain and howling wind turned the second round of the Open at Royal Birkdale into purgatory for the players and spectators.
There was one player who thrived in the conditions. Arnold Palmer. The popular American had finished second to Kel Nagle in his first Open the year before and after an opening round of 70 was clearly in contention.
Palmer put on several sweaters and a dark cap to protect himself from the elements, turned up his collar and went out to conquer the course. The wind was so strong he needed a one-iron to reach the 212 yard fourth . He putted only six times on the opening six holes.
Palmer turned in a 3 under par 34 and with two more birdies scored 73 in what he rated as one of his finest rounds. The storm was even fiercer the next day blowing down tents and flooding the course but Palmer held on to beat the Welshman Dai Rees by a stroke.
Richie Benaud was living a captain’s nightmare for the second time in a month. He won the toss in the fourth Test at Old Trafford decided to bat and saw his team crumble. Three weeks earlier he called correctly at Headingley, only to see Fred Truman take 11 for 88 to give England an eight-wicket win. Now Benaud was in the soup again. Australia were 157 runs ahead in their second innings when Garth McKenzie joined Alan Davidson for the last wicket. They put on 98 to save their captain some embarrassment leaving England to make 256 runs in 230 minutes to take a 2 - 1 lead.
Ted Dexter hit a masterly 76 in 84 minutes as England reached 150 for 1. So Benaud decided to go for broke. He set an attacking field, shrewdly bowling his leg spinners from around the wicket so the ball pitched in the scuff marks created by Truman and Brian Statham. The England batsmen had no answer. Dexter gave a catch to Wally Grout and Peter May was bowled second ball round his legs. Benaud took a breather, he had taken 4 for 9 off 19 balls. The tailenders fell under his spell and gave Australia victory by 54 runs - Benaud six for 70.
BASEBALL - Warren Psahn of Milwaukee pitched the second no-hitter of his career at the age of 40 against San Francisco Giants on April 28
BOXING - Floyd Patterson retained his world heavyweight title in a brawl. Rather than a boxing match, in March. Patterson was knocked down twice in the first round, but knocked out Ingemar Johansson in the sixth.
Rod Laver needed an answer to the superb lob volleys from Manuel Santana if he wanted to win the Grand Slam. Laver had won the Australian and French titles but was being given the run-around in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. Santana won the first set 16 - 14 and moved to a commanding 5 - 1 lead in the second set.
Laver’s dream of becoming the first player since Don Budge in 1938 to win the four major titles was turning into a nightmare. Suddenly Laver snapped out of his trance. He won the next four games and never looked back, sweeping past Santana and then Neale Fraser in the semi-finals. The final against the unseeded Martin Mulligan was an anti-climax. Laver retained his title with a 6 - 2, 6 - 2, 6 - 1 victory in his fourth successive final.
It was billed as “Beauty v The Beast” and the public lapped up the idea that Floyd Patterson represented all that was good in the new thrusting America, and that Sonny Liston, the ex-con, represented all that was bad. Then the bad guy won!
On September 25 in Chicago, Pattterson surrendered his world heavyweight crown in a craven fashion, a mere 126 seconds after the fight began. Despite the hype that Beauty was going to slay the Beast, Patterson did not fall for it. He came prepared for the outcome, brought a false beard and spectacles and slipped out of the stadium in disguise after his humiliation.
With Liston installed as the world Champion, could they take the next phenomenon: Cassius Clay? Nicknamed the Louisville Lip because of his boasting and outspoken cheekiness, Clay had been the wonder of the 1960 Olympic Games when he took the light heavyweight gold medal. As a professional he had surged up the rankings with series of shattering wins, many of them predicted in advance. I November, Clay, the youngster, met Archie Moore, the legendary veteran now near 50. The kid predicted that Moore would fall in four and duly delivered.
Margaret Smith, a 20 year-old Australian, took women’s tennis by storm. She had already shown signs of greatness by wining three successive Australian titles and had lost in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon the year before. Her hard work in the gym and on the practice courts finally paid off.
She added the French title to her Australian success with a 6 - 3, 3 - 6, 7 - 5 victory against Lesley Turner and then took her third major title of the year by beating Darlene Hard 9 - 7, 6 - 4 in the US championships. Smith’s only blemish was at Wimbledon, where she was bundled out in the first round by the promising Billie Jean Moffat. Smith’s defeat left the way open for Karen Susman to win the title.
MOTOR RACING - Stirling Moss was almost killed in a crash at Goodwood on Easter Monday. The greatest driver never to have won the world championship had to retire from Formula 1.
RUGBY LEAGUE - Britain won 18 of their 21 matches in Australia, including the first two Tests, but they lost the third 18- 17.
Cricket was in decline, attendance's at county matches had slumped from nearly 2 million in 1950 to 700,000 in 1962. Too many matches were ending in boring draws. The MCC set up a committee n 1956 to look into ways of reviving the game. The committee suggested a one-day knockout competition Interest was slow but in May 1962 4 counties had a trial run and the seed was planted for a limited over game the next summer.
The major stumbling block was the expense if matches were interrupted by bad weather. The Gillette Safety Razor Co. Agreed to underwrite the event providing counties with insurance against bad weather.
By the first weekend in September the Gillette Cup had proved a resounding success.
Many players believed that to win 65-over matches required only good batting and bowling. Ted Dexter thought otherwise. The Sussex captain set a funnel-shaped field stretching outward from the batsmen and instructed his bowlers to pitch the ball up, forcing the opposition to drive the ball into the funnel.
Dexter used his tactical awareness to earn Sussex their first trophy in the counties 124 year history. They beat Worcestershire by 14 runs in front of a full house at Lord’s in the September final. The limited over game brought about a decline in spin bowling and an emphasis on containing batsmen rather than getting them out
Ron Clarke an Australian who had lost interest in running since he carried the torch in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, began to run again. The gifted 26 year-old trained twice a day before and after his work as an accountant and his improvement was spectacular. In five years he broke 18 world records from two miles to the one-hour run. He started with the 10,000m and six mile records on December 18 and finished with the two mile record in London on August 24, 1968. Clarke, the fastest long distance runner in the 1960‘s had one regret - he never won a gold medal.
While Sonny Liston was dealing with Floyd Patterson, the young pretender Cassius Clay was waiting in the wings and racking up victory after victory to confirm his status as the No.1 contender. One of the fall guys in this campaign of terror was supposed to be Henry Cooper. However, Cooper did not exactly follow the script.
On July 19 30,000 turned up at Wembley to see the outrageous 21 year-old. For the first three rounds it was as expected, with the clowning American making a monkey out of Cooper. Then in the dying seconds of the fourth round an arrogant Clay got careless and was caught with a left hook that could have changed boxing history.
The bell stopped Cooper from hitting him again, but Clay’s trainer, Angelo Dundee, almost certainly saved him. In the third round there had been a minor tear in Clay’s left glove and during the interval between the fourth and fifth rounds Dundee used his expertise to turn this into a major tear.
Tony Nash and Robin Dixon were one of the world’s leading two-man bobsled teams despite having no practice facilities in Britain. They finished third in the world championships in Innsbruck in 1963. And returned to the Austrian town for the IX Winter Olympics hoping to break the dominance of the crack Italians.
The axle bolt on their sled broke after the first of two runs on the opening day. Just when it appeared that they would have to withdraw their Italian rival Eugenio Monti came to their rescue. Monti and his brakeman Sergio Siorpaes had completed their second run and were at the bottom of the mountain. Monti removed his axle bolt and made sure it reached Nash. The British pair went on to take the Gold medal.
When the swaggering braggart met the world champion in Miami on February 325, the only person in the US, it seemed, who gave Cassius Clay a prayer was himself. In an amazing turnaround Sonny Liston, the ex-con, was perceived by America as the good guy who was going to button the Louisville Lip. But Clay had completely out psyched Liston, convincing the champion that he was stepping into the ring with a lunatic.
Some lunatic. Clay danced round the ring picking off a plodding leaden-footed Liston at will. By the fourth round Liston had a cut under his left eye, and at the end of the sixth Liston was beaten. Thoroughly demoralised he refused to come out for the seventh and the 7 - 1 favourite had given way to the brash upstart with a fancy way with words.
The day after the fight America had another bombshell to contend with. Their new world heavyweight champion was not Cassius Clay, but Mohammed Ali. Clay embraced the Muslim religion and became the follower of the reviled Malcolm X
British women’s athletics had never made much impression at the Olympics. But the XVIII Games in Tokyo in October proved a watershed. Ann Packer and her room mate Mary Rand had a small celebration with a haul of two golds, two silvers and a bronze.
Rand became the first British woman to win a field event when she leapt 6.76 metres to break the world long jump record. She added a silver medal in the pentathlon and a bronze medal in the 4 x 100m relay . Packer showed her ability as one of the nation’s most versatile athletes when she shocked the world in only her eighth 800m. Packer, who had finished second to Betty Cuthbert in the 400m, produced a spectacular sprint in the 800m to win by 5 metres in an Olympic record of 2min 1.1sec.
The referee was summoned to inspect the glove. By the time this performance was finished Clay had gained sufficient breathing space to recover from Cooper’s punch. And 75 seconds after the fifth round began Clay had inflicted so much damage around Cooper’s left eye that the referee was forced to stop the fight.
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