Which equestrian has won the Badminton Horse Trials most often?

The Badminton Horse Trials is the oldest and, arguably, the most prestigious fixture in the eventing calendar. The competition was founded by Henry Somerset, tenth Duke of Beaufort, in the grounds of the Badminton Estate in Gloucestershire, South West England, in 1949 and – notwithstanding cancellations due to bad weather and, of course, the Covid-19 pandemic – has been staged annually, in April or May, ever since.

The equestrian who has won the Badminton Horse Trials most often is Lucinda Green, née Prior-Palmer, who did so six times, on six different horses, between 1973 and 1984. Born in Andover, Hampshire on November 7, 1953, Prior-Palmer was still only 19 years old when she won Badminton for the first time, on Be Fair, having finished fifth on the same horse the previous year. She later told ‘Country Life’, ‘It was ridiculous. I was 19, it was my second attempt and the horse, Be Fair, had been my fifteenth birthday present.’

Prior-Palmer won Badminton again in 1976 and 1977, but both victories were overshadowed by tragedy. In 1976, her mount, Wideawake suddenly collapsed and died as the pair waited to begin their lap of honour and, in 1977, some months after guiding sketchy jumper George to glory, her father, Major General George Erroll Prior-Palmer – who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer – died.

Prior-Palmer would win Badminton once more, albeit narrowly, under her maiden name. In 1979, Killaire, who was ‘only a ordinary hunter’, but ‘had the biggest heart’, dug deep on the cross-country course to edge out Monocle, ridden by Sue Hatherley. Following marriage to David Green in 1981, she would win twice more, on Regal Realm in 1983 and Beagle Bay in 1984.

How many Olympic medals did Fanny Blankers-Koen win?

For readers unfamiliar with the name, Francina Elsje Blankers-Koen, better known as ‘Fanny’ Blankers-Koen, was a versayile Dutch athlete who competed at three Summer Olympic Games, in Berlin in 1936, London in 1948 and Helsinki in 1952. Born in Lage Vuursche, near Baarn, in the central Netherlands on April 26, 1918, she made her Olympic debut as an 18-year-old, finishing co-fifth in the high jump and fifth, and last, in the 4 x 100 metres relay, after Germany, who had set a world record in the heats, were disqualified. The Summer Olympic scheduled for Tokyo, and then Helsinki, in 1940 and for London in 1944 were, of course, cancelled due to World War II.

By the time the Games returned, in London in 1948, Blankers-Koen had already set world records in the 80 metres hurdles, high jump and long jump and equalled the world record in the individual 100 metres and was the outstanding female athlete in her native country. Limited, by Olympic rules of the day, to no more than three individual events, she elected to compete in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 80 metres hurdles, plus the 4 x 100 metres relay.

Despite contesting eleven heats in just over a week, the 30-year-old mother-of-two won gold medals in all four events, earning herself the nickname ‘The Flying Housewife’. Victory, by a comfortable margin, in her opening event, the 100 metres, made her the first Dutchwoman to win an Olympic gold medal in athletics and she subsequently became the first woman, of any nationality, to win four gold medals at a single Olympic Games.

Blankers-Koen also competed at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, qualifying for the semi-final of the 100 metres, but withdrawing at that stage, and failing to finish in the final of the 80 metres hurdles, in what turned out to be her last competitive race. Nevertheless, in 1999, she was chosen as ‘Female Athlete of the the 20th Century’ by the Council of the International Athletic Foundation.

Which was the first Olympic Games held in the Southern Hemisphere?

The revival of the Olympic Games, in 1896, was due to the creativity and endeavour of several people, not least Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin. On June 23, 1894, Coubertin organised the inaugural Olympic Congress at Sorbonne University, which led to the foundation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). One of the stated aims of the Olympic Movement was, and still is, ‘to bring together the athletes of the world in a great quadrennial festival of sports thereby creating international respect and goodwill’. Olympia, on the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece, was the home of the ancient Olympic Games, believed to date back to 776 BCE. Hence, Athens, capital of the Hellenic Republic, was unanimously chosen as the host city for the Games of the I Olympiad .

Thereafter, notwithstanding cancellations in 1940 and 1944, the next twelve Olympic Games were staged exclusively in the Northern Hemisphere and, with the exceptions of St. Louis in 1904 and Los Angeles in 1932 – both of which are, of course, in North America – exclusively in Europe. The first Olympic Games held in the Southern Hemisphere were, in fact, the Games of the XVI Olympiad, staged in Melbourne, Australia in late November and early December, 1956. In fact, only two cities, both in the Southern Hemisphere, made it to the final round of bidding, with Melbourne selected as the host city ahead of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina.

Eight nations boycotted the Games, for various reasons, and equestrian events were held in Stockholm, Sweden the previous June because of Australian quarantine restrictions but, overall, the competiton was considered a huge success, despite the low number of participants. That said, violence erupted in the so-called ‘Blood in the Water’ water polo match between Hungary and the Soviet Union, which took place in the wake of the Hungarian Uprising, a popular insurrection that led to a Soviet invasion of the country in early November.

What’s the record for the fastest shot in ice hockey?

The strongest professional ice hockey leagues in the world are, in order of preference, the National Hockey League (NHL), which features teams from the United States and Canada, and the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), which features teams mainly from Russia, but also from Belarus, China and Kazakhstan. Both leagues stage an annual ‘all-star’ game, intended to showcase the talents of their big-name participants, and an associated skills competition. So, too, does the American Hockey League (AHL), which serves as the primary development league for the NHL.

In fact, it was during the KHL skills competition, held in St. Petersburg, Russia on February 5, 2011, that Avangard Omsk defenceman Denis Kulyash, a.k.a. ‘Tsar Cannon’, registered a slapshot that was measured at 110.3 miles per hour, thereby setting a record for the fastest shot in ice hockey history. As far as the NHL is concerned, the record for the fastest shot belongs to former Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chára who, during the NHL skills competition in Ottawa, Canada on January 29, 2012, ripped a bomb measured at 108.8 miles per hour.

Indeed, the 6-foot 9-inch Slovak, a.k.a. ‘Big Z’, proved something of a serial record-breaker during his long, illustrious career in the NHL. He had previously set records of 105.4 mph and 105.9 mph in 2009 and 2011, respectively.

Second place on the overall, all-time list, though, belongs to Springfield Thunderbirds forward Martin Frik, who is under contract to the St. Louis Blues. During the AHL all-star skills competition in Ontario, California on January 27, 2020, the Czech-born player blasted a slapshot measured at 109.2 mph.

Who is the only athlete to have thrown a javelin over 100 metres in competition?

A world record for the men’s javelin was first ratified by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in 1912 and, notwithstanding changes to the specification of the projectile, just one athlete has thrown a javelin beyond the 100-metre mark in competition. The athlete in question was East German Uwe Hohn, who, four days after his twenty-second birthday, on July 20, 1984, threw the javelin a distance of 104.80 metres. In so doing, he smashed the previous record, 99.72 metres, set by American Thomas ‘Tom’ Petranoff on May 15, 1983, and hastened the introduction of a new javelin design, which was eventually implemented in April, 1986.

Petranoff, himself, had sparked debate about the design and flight characteristics of the javelin but, by the time Hohn obliterated his mark, the new specification had been officially proposed. Prior to the new specification, it was often unclear if the javelin had landed tip first, which it must for the throw to be legal, and male athletes were in danger of throwing the javelin beyond the boundary of the landing sector.

Indeed, during the XXII Olympic Day of Athletics at the Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark in East Berlin, Hohn came within a metre or so of the running track beyond the javelin landing sector. In scenes reminiscent of Nadia Comăneci at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada, the manual scoreboard, which wasn’t equipped to show more than four digits, proudly displayed ‘0408’. Any confusion was short-lived, though, as Hohn was surrounded by photographers wishing to capture his ‘eternal world record’ for posterity.

The centre of gravity of the javelin was subsequently moved forward by four centimetres, such that the tip descended earlier and more steeply, thereby shortening throwing distances and eliminating dubious, ‘flat’ landings. The current world record, 98.48 metres, was set by Czech Jan Železný on May 25, 1996, but since the specification change, no-one else has come close to the triple-figure mark.