Shergar quite simply strolled away wit h the Derby. And then, just to prove how good he was, he walked off with the Irish Derby and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth stakes as well.
The Aga Khan’s horse had been lightly raced as a two-year old, with one win and one second to his credit, but there was nothing to touch him as a three year old. His first race was won by 10 lengths, and then the tight track of the Chester Vase yielded an even bigger victory. It was no wonder that Shergar started the strongest favourite for the Derby for a decade. He won, again by 10 lengths - the biggest margin on record. The Irish Derby was won by a ‘mere’ four lengths but Peter O’Sullevan summed up the majesty describing Shergar’s victory as “an exercise canter”.
Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean only teamed up in 1975 because neither of them had a partner at the Nottingham rink where they trained. A one-month trial soon became a spectacular ice dancing paring.
Under the tutelage of Betty Calloway they made steady progress, and 1981 was the year they started to take the world by storm. In a sign of things to come, they were awarded seven maximum marks in the British Championships at their home rink, and then they went on to win the European and World titles in the same year.
The Brat was back. John McEnroe who had behaved impeccably at Wimbledon on his way to losing a memorable final to Bjorn Borg the previous year, returned to his old tricks. He spent two weeks ranting and raging his way to another final against Borg on July 4. He would throw a tantrum whenever he was not getting his own way. His opponent, usually playing a big point, would have his concentration disrupted and invariably McEnroe’s gamesmanship would bring about his opponents downfall.
In the final Borg had the only break of serve in the first set and although he was outplayed by McEnroe in the tie-break in the second set, he appeared in control by going 4-1 ahead in the third. But McEnroe rebounded He won the next three games, saved four set points and grabbed the lead in second tie-break. McEnroe held his nerve and won the title
The American was aided and abetted by weak officials who did little to curb his volley of obscenities, boorish behaviour and gamesmanship. On he went serving and swearing his way to a meeting with Borg who had beaten Jimmy Connors in a stirring five set semi-final that lasted over three hours, coming back from 2 sets down.
Geoff Boycott who had spent most of his life counting runs, showed he was also a dab hand at counting money. The England opener grabbed a lucrative contract to mastermind a rebel tour of South Africa. But the one month dalliance with apartheid earned the team a three year ban from Test cricket. Boycott, never far from controversy was the brains and the backbone behind the side lead by Graham Gouch. The party slipped quietly into South Africa on Sunday February 28 and were soon dubbed the ‘Dirty Dozen’. They were later joined by three others.
The South Africans were starstruck by the arrivals but were soon brought down to earth. There was no Ian Botham and a team of has-beens, hired hands and holidaymakers were hardly a match for a team champing at the bit to prove how good they really were. The Tour ended the Test careers of Boycott, Mike Hendrick, Alan Knott, Chris Old and Derek Underwood.
England began the finals of the World Cup in the best possible fashion with goal after 27 seconds from Bryan Robson against France in Bilbao on June 16. They comfortably qualified for the second phase, winning all their matches. When they met West Germany in Madrid, a sterile 0-0 draw left them needing to beat the hosts Spain 2-0 to reach the semi-finals. Ron Greenwood, the manager had been blighted by injuries to Kevin Keegan and Trevor Brooking. Bizarrely, he decided in advance to bring them on as a double substitution just after hour. The gamble never paid off as both missed good chances and the match was scoreless. England went out, unbeaten.
Scotland yet again, failed to qualify for the second phase. This time they had a good excuse: they were in the same group as Brazil and the Soviet Union. They actually led, very briefly, against brazil and drew with the Soviet Union, but failed to progress.
Italy stuttered into the second phase, drawing all three games and only qualified on goal difference. Then they, and Paolo Rossi, exploded. In successive matches, they beat Argentina the holders, Brazil the favourites, Poland, who finished third and in the final west Germany, the European Champions. They were the only four games Italy won in the whole of 1982, and it made them World Champions for the third time.
Daley Thompson responded superbly to the European championships challenge of the West German Jurgen Hingsen, who just three weeks earlier had relieved him of the World Decathlon record with a score of 8,723 points.
In Athens on September 7 & 8, Thompson, outran, out-jumped, out threw and outtalked the German not only to win the gold medal but also regain the world record with 8743 points. In doing so, he became the first man in any event to hold simultaneously the Olympic, European and Commonwealth titles as well as the world record.
Northern Ireland were the shock side of the tournament, beating Spain to reach the second phase. Regrettably France were too strong.
RUGBY UNION - South Africa’s tour of New Zealand was disrupted by political protests. Two matches were cancelled and the All Black Gary Knight was knocked down by a flour bomb thrown by a protester who buzzed the third Test in a light plane.
FOOTBALL - Diego Maradona, the most exciting player to emerge since Pele, was transferred on May 28 for a world record £5 million from Boca Juniors to Barcelona.
The New York Yacht Club had done away with the need for boats challenging for the America’s Cup to be entirely designed and built in their home country. It was a decision that in the end was to cost them the Cup.
Ben Lexcen scoured the world for the very best in technology, and for the flamboyant Australian Alan Bond money was no object. Lexcen produced a design so radical that when Australia II was out of the water in Newport, Rhode Island, its hull was shrouded from prying eyes. The secret was in the keel, which was fitted with wings to increase speed and stability.
There was no doubt that the winged design was very fast, as was shown when Australia II easily beat the conventionally designed British entry, Peter de Savery’s Victory 83, in the challengers final. Even Dennis Connor, defending the Cup in Liberty, knew that Australia II was the fastest boat on the water. However, during September, it looked as if the novel design would be let down in the finals. Equipment failures cost Australia II, skippered by John Bertrand the first two races. Bond’s syndicate pulled a race back, but then Connor won again to give the Americans a 3-1 lead. In the best of 7 final.
Australia II hit back once more and levelled the series at 3-3. Everything was at stake in the final race, and it looked as if the cup would stay in America as Connor led from the start. On the penultimate leg however, Bertrand edged ahead. Connor started a close-quarters duel, tacking 47 times on the final leg, but Bertrand was able to match his every manoeuvre and hold on for victory.
With the Olympic Games having previously been considered the unofficial world championships of athletics, the governing body of the sport, the International Amateur Athletics Federation, established its own rival quadrennial World championships in August. Some people felt that the sport wanted an alternative to the Olympics if there was any major disagreement between the IOC and the IFFA, which now had an ambitious president in the Italian Dr. Nebiolo.
The venue chosen for the inaugural championships was Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium. The stars of this first meet were Carl Lewis who took gold in the 100m, long jump and relay, Ed Moses and Mary Decker. Britain's only champions were Steve Cram in the 1500m and Daley Thompson, who added yet another title to his collection, and who could now call himself Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth Decathlon Champion
Seve Ballesteros had one complaint about playing in America. “In the US I’m lucky, in Europe I’m good” he said of his status across the Atlantic. A four-shot victory in the Masters changed that. At last the Americans began to appreciate the genius of Ballesteros, who won his second green jacket at Augusta with spectacular charge in the final round.
Ballesteros began the day one shot behind, but with a birdie, eagle, par and birdie in the first four holes he was suddenly three shots ahead. He turned in 31, four shots in front, and found the tricky homeward trip through Amen Corner plain sailing. The two Texans Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite suggested that “trying to catch Seve is like a Chevy pick-up trying to catch a Ferrari”.
In 1984, Olympic athletes met in Los Angeles for the second time, having first gathered there in 1932. The Games were remarkable for being the first privately funded tournament in Olympic history
The driving force behind the Los Angeles successful bid was the city mayor Tom Bradley, while entrepreneur Peter Ueberroth dedicated his time to bringing the project to fruition once the Games had been awarded. Ueberroth was able to attract more than 30 sponsors who between them contributed more than 500 million dollars. Other companies funded the building of new sports facilities, in a deal which allowed them to advertise on the admission tickets. The television company ABC paid 225 million dollars for the exclusive television rights. With all this money involved, many critics held the view that what had once been a festival of amateur sport had been converted to a commercial spectacle.
The star of these games was undoubtedly the American track-and-field athlete, Carl Lewis, who followed in Jesse Owen’s footsteps by taking four Olympic titles, forty eight years after Owen’s triumphs in Berlin, taking precisely the golds in the same events, 100, 200 metres, 4 x 100 relay and the long jump. Only the 17 year old Romanian gymnast Ekaterina Szabo won more medals claiming four golds and a silver. Britain’s Daley Thompson successfully defended his decathlon title, becoming only the second man (after Bob Mathias) to do so.
Meanwhile, Sebastian Coe (GB) recovered from serious illness to successfully defend the Olympic 1500 metres title for the first time since Jim Lightbody in 1906. As in Moscow, Coe also picked up a silver in the 800 metre, this time losing to Brazil’s Joaquim Cruz; the Brazilian set a new Olympic record in the process. The US athlete Ed Moses took a second gold in the 400 metres hurdles to add to his ‘world championship’ title earned the previous year.
Among the new disciplines at Los Angeles were women's’ synchronized swimming , in which the solo event was won by Tracie Ruiz from the USA, and windsurfing, won by Hollands Sephan van den Berg. During the Olympic Congress of 1981, the term “Olympic amateur” had been removed from the Olympic charter. This gave individual sports associations the power to decide on eligibility for the Olympics. As a result, professional footballers were eligible, though European and South American countries considered only players that had not appeared in a World Cup.
The Games were overshadowed by a boycott imposed by the Soviet Union and many of its allies, alleging dissatisfaction with security, but this was seen as retaliation for the US instigated boycott of the Moscow Olympics four years earlier.
There was drama in the women’s javelin as Fatima Whitbread (GB) threw 69.14m to put the hot local favourite and world record holder Tiina Lillak into second place. However with her very last throw Lillak threw 70.82m to snatch the title amid pandemonium
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