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Sporting Witness


The inside and personal story of the key moments from sporting history

The inside and personal story of the key moments from sporting history


United Kingdom




The inside and personal story of the key moments from sporting history




The perfect bull-ride

In 1991, Wade Leslie stunned the world of professional rodeo by becoming the first – and only – cowboy to achieve a perfect score of 100 points for a bull-ride. Leslie stayed in full control of an angry 1500-pound bull called Wolfman at a meeting in Oregon. He talks to Jonathan Holloway. The programme is a Made-In-Manchester Production. PHOTO: Wade Leslie (courtesty Wade Leslie)


Ironman's Ironwoman

SPORTING WITNESS – IRONMAN’S IRON WOMAN (26th MARCH). In 1982, Julie Moss made headlines when she crawled to the finish line of the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii after collapsing just metres from the end of her race. It was her first competitive triathlon and she came second, but as Julie explains to Rebecca Kesby, that heroic fight for the line changed her life, and her attitude to the sport. The moment also inspired a surge in popularity for Ironman - until then a little known...


The remarkable life of Eva Szekely

During World War Two, the Hungarian swimmer, Eva Szekely, was saved from the Holocaust because of her father's quick thinking and her own talent for swimming. Eva Szekely would go on to break six world records and become an Olympic gold medallist at the 1952 Helsinki games. She died in February 2020. Louise Hidalgo tells her story using archive interviews with Eva Szekely held at the USC Shoah Foundation in the United States. Picture: Eva Szekely on her way to victory at the 1952 Olympics...


Colin McRae: Rally legend

In 1995, the Scottish driver Colin McRae became the youngest ever winner of the World Rally Championship after a dramatic victory in the last race of the season in North Wales. McRae’s no-holds-barred driving style later inspired a video game that brought rallying to a wider audience. He died in a helicopter crash in 2007. His brother, Alistair McRae, talks to Jonathan Holloway. (Photo: Colin McRae. Credit: Getty Images)


Kenya's first Winter Olympian

In 1998, a Kenyan farmer called Philip Boit became one of the first Africans to compete in the Winter Olympics. In the 10-kilometre cross-country skiing final he faced the legendary Norwegian, Bjorn Daehlie. It was a race that would unite the two athletes and inspire future Winter Olympians across Africa. This programme was first broadcast in 2014. PHOTO: Bjorn Daehlie and Philip Boit (Getty Images)


Nancy Greene: The 'Tiger' of women's skiing

In February 1968, the Canadian skier Nancy Greene pulled off a flawless performance at the Winter Olympic Games, winning the Giant Slalom by a record-breaking margin of 2.6 seconds. Greene was nicknamed “Tiger” because of her attacking style, and the commanding victory made her one of the most popular Canadian sportswomen of all time. Nancy Greene talks to Freddy Chick. (Photo: Nancy Greene is cheered by her Canadian team-mates in 1968. Credit: Getty Images)


Knocking down Mike Tyson

In February 1990, a little-known fighter called James “Buster” Douglas pulled off arguably the biggest shock in boxing history by beating the previously undefeated Mike Tyson to take the world heavyweight title. The fight was expected to be such a foregone conclusion that only one casino agreed to take bets on a "Buster Douglas win, but the outsider battered “Iron Mike” again and again with his jab and eventually knocked him down. Buster Douglas talks to Ned Carter Miles. The programme is a...


Rocky Bleier: The legendary comeback

How a wounded Vietnam war veteran became an NFL Super Bowl champion. Rocky Bleier was a young American football player beginning his career in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But in 1968 he was drafted into the US Army to serve in the VIetnam war. He was injured in combat and his career appeared over. But Rocky fought his way back to become a member of the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers team that won four Super Bowls in the 1970s. Alex Last spoke to Rocky Bleier about his remarkable...


Stanley Matthews' Soweto team

In 1975 a group of young black soccer players from apartheid-era South Africa went on tour to Brazil. They were part of a team known as "Stan's Men", organised by the English soccer legend, Sir Stanley Matthews, in the black township of Soweto. Matthews had been helping train youngsters in South Africa since the 1950s, in defiance of the racist white government, and continued travelling there after his retirement from English soccer. Mike Lanchin has been hearing the memories of Hamilton...


P.T. Usha - India's 'queen of track and field'

In the 1980s, P.T. Usha, a sprinter and hurdler from the southern Indian state of Kerala, became the first woman from her country to achieve major success in athletics. But in 1984 she missed out on a medal at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles by an agonising 100th of a second. P.T. Usha talks to Farhana Haider. (Photo: P.T. Usha in action in the 1980s. Credit: Getty Images)


Togo bus attack

In January 2010, a guerrilla group in Angola opened fire on the buses carrying the Togo football team as they travelled to the Africa Cup of Nations tournament. The machine-gun fire lasted 30 minutes and killed two members of the Togolese delegation. Ashley Byrne talks to Elitsa Kodjo Lanou, the Togo team’s technical director about a day that changed football in Africa. The programme is a Made-In-Manchester Production. PHOTO: Togolese soldiers carrying the coffin of a victim of the attack...


Wrexham's FA Cup giant-killing

In January 1992, Wrexham caused one of the biggest upsets in FA Cup history by beating reigning English champions Arsenal 2-1 in a third-round tie. At the time, Wrexham were languishing near the bottom of the Football League and struggling to survive financially. Jim Frank talks to one of the Welsh club’s goal-scorers, Steve Watkin. PHOTO: The victorious Wrexham team in 1992 (Getty Images)


The BBC's first female football reporter

In 1969 the BBC caused a sensation by allowing a woman to report on football on air for the first time. The reporter was Mary Raine, who covered a first division match between Chelsea and Sunderland that year, as well as the 1970 FA Cup final. She talks to Simon Watts about being the first woman to enter the all-male press box. PHOTO: Mary Raine in Goal magazine in 1969 (BBC)


The shot heard around the world

In November 1989, the USA qualified for the football World Cup for the first time in the modern era with a nail-biting 1-0 away win in Trinidad and Tobago. The winning goal was a 30-yard screamer scored by Paul Caligiuri, one of the few professionals in the American team. It is credited with boosting the popularity of the game in the US, and was nicknamed “The Shot Around the World”. Paul Caligiuri talks to Ashley Byrne. (Photo: The US team at the 1990 World Cup. Credit: Getty Images)


Arunima Sinha - Indian Mountain Climber

In 2013, Arunima Sinha became the first woman amputee to climb Mount Everest - just two years after suffering an horrific accident during an armed robbery on a train in the north of India. The accident robbed Arunima of a promising career in volleyball, but she was determined to prove to herself that she could still do anything. Iknoor Kaur tells her story. Production by Prabhat Pandey. (Photo: Arunima Sinha celebrating her Everest climb. Credit: Getty Images)


The Cold War's strangest sport

The end of the Cold War in 1989 spelt the demise of a little-known, but surprisingly popular sport behind the Iron Curtain – high-speed telegraphy competitions. With the help of two of Czechoslovakia’s best former Morse-coders, we revisit the inaugural World Championship in Moscow in 1983 when the Soviet Union rolled out the red carpet for teams from across the Communist bloc. Ashley Byrne reports. The programme is a Made-In-Manchester Production. PHOTO: A Morse code machine in action (Getty...


Nigeria's 'Superfalcons' wow the Women's World Cup

In 1999, Nigeria’s women’s football team – the Superfalcons – went on a dazzling run at the Women’s World Cup in the United States. The Nigerians became the first African side to reach the quarter-final stage, before losing an epic game against Brazil. The Superfalcons’ performance is now regarded as putting the women‘s game on the map in Africa. Emma Barnaby talks to former Nigerian goal-keeper, Judith Chime. (Photo: Nigeria's Prisca Emeafu celebrates scoring against Brazil. Credit: Getty...


The Blind Cricket World Cup

In 1998, India hosted the inaugural edition of the Blind Cricket World Cup – a format of the game based on sound. Seven nations took part in the tournament, which was supported by cricketing greats such as Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar, and is credited with changing perceptions of the blind and partially-sighted in India. Claire Bowes talks to the founder of the Cricket World Cup, George Abraham. PHOTO:Blind Pakistani cricketer Mohammad Fayyaz in action (Getty Images)


Magic Johnson and HIV

In November 1991, the basketball legend Magic Johnson stunned America by announcing that he’d tested positive for HIV. Johnson’s determination to raise awareness about safe sex and the importance of testing is credited with changing the perception of the virus in the US. Ade Adepitan talks to Michael Mellman, the LA Lakers team doctor who broke the news to Magic Johnson. The programme is an Audio Always production. PHOTO: Magic Johnson in 1992 (Ted Soqui/Sygma via Getty Images)


The death of Robert Enke

In November 2009, the world of football was shocked by the death of German international goal-keeper Robert Enke, who killed himself after years of suffering from depression. In 2010, Eleanor Oldroyd spoke to Enke’s agent, Jorg Neblung, and friend and biographer, Ronald Reng, about what lay behind his death. If you are affected by the issues in this programme you can find information about support organisations on the Befrienders Worldwide website: Image: Robert...