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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




Coe vs Ovett

At the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, the world was gripped by the intense rivalry between the British middle-distance runners, Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett. Ovett won the 800 metres, which was Coe’s favourite distance; but just a few days later, Coe struck back by winning the 1500 metres, Ovett’s preferred event. Alex Capstick talks to Sebastian Coe, now Lord Coe, about his memories of the Moscow Games. PHOTO: Sebastian Coe win the Olympic 1500 metres in 1980 (Getty Images)


Afghanistan's cricket heroes

In 2010, Afghanistan’s national cricket team scored a historic first by qualifying for the World Twenty20 Finals in the West Indies. Started just a few years earlier, the Afghan side consisted mainly of players who’d learned the game while in refugee camps in Pakistan. Their success lifted the mood of their war-torn nation. Charlotte North talks to Afghan all-rounder, Raees Ahmadzai. The programme is a Whistledown Production. PHOTO: The Afghan team preparing for a match in the West Indies...


Beckham in Hollywood

In July 2007, David Beckham, then one of the most famous footballers in the world, made his debut for Major League Soccer team, LA Galaxy. The star-studded game attracted Hollywood royalty and huge media attention from around the world. Beckham would eventually win two MLS titles with LA Galaxy and he’s credited with raising the profile of his sport in America. Ian Williams talks to the man who signed Beckham, LA Galaxy president Alexi Lalas. PHOTO: David Beckham's presentation for LA Galaxy...


Andre Agassi

In July 1992, Andre Agassi became a tennis superstar when he won the Wimbledon men’s title at the age of 21. But beneath the showman image, Agassi was in private turmoil – in pain from a back problem, depressed and secretly hating his sport. Later in his career, Agassi would even smoke crystal meth. Simon Watts tells his story using BBC archive interviews. PHOTO: Andre Agassi in action at Wimbledon (Getty Images)


Greece's stunning football triumph

In July 2004, Greece pulled off one of the biggest shocks in football history by winning the European Championship with a 1-0 victory over Portugal. The Greeks had never previously scored a point in tournament football, but fought their way to the final thanks to set-pieces and a well-marshalled defence. Charlotte North talks to the Greek goal-scorer, Angelos Charisteas. The programme is a Whistledown Production. PHOTO: Angelos Charisteas celebraring with the Euro 2004 trophy (Getty Images)


Cheerleading's first World Championships

In 2004 the first Cheerleading World Championships, or Worlds, were held at the Walt Disney World resort in Florida. It was a big moment for All Star Cheer – a new sport made up of demanding group routines of coordinated tumbles and stunts, rather than supporting a sports team from the sidelines. Lucy Burns talks to Ambrel Brannon, a member of the winning Cheer Athletics senior girls' squad, about a sport that’s becoming increasingly popular around the world. PICTURE: A cheerleader is thrown...


Clyde Best: A black footballing pioneer

Bermuda-born Clyde Best came to England as a teenager in 1968 and went on to play for West Ham United alongside the likes of Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst. Best made a name for himself as a talented goal-scorer in more than 200 appearances for the Hammers, but he faced constant racist abuse from fans, and on occasion, from opposition players. Now in his 60s, Clyde Best has been telling Mike Lanchin about how he stood up to the racists in English soccer. Photo: Clyde Best on the ball, 4th March...


Rulon Gardner - Wrestling Hero

At the 2000 Olympics, American Rulon Gardner pulled off the greatest shock in the history of modern Greco-Roman wrestling when he beat the Russian Aleksander Karelin. Karelin had not been defeated for 13 years and had already prepared a party to celebrate his latest gold medal. The win made Gardner a hero in America and is credited with sparking a boom in the popularity of his sport. He talks to Ashley Byrne. The programme is a Made-in-Manchester Production. PHOTO: Rulon Gardner (Getty...


Ibtihaj Muhammad - Fencing in a hijab

In 2016, the Muslim-American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad made history by becoming the first US athlete to wear a hijab at the Olympic Games. After facing questions about her hijab and political views throughout her career, Ibtihaj was trailed by the global media throughout the Rio games. She overcame a shaky start to win a bronze medal in the team sabre event. Ibtihaj Muhammad has since written a popular autobiography and even inspired a hijab-wearing Barbie doll. She talks to Farhana Haider....


Tofiri Kibuuka - Africa's paralympic pioneer

The blind African paralympian Tofiri Kibuuka has the unique distinction of competing successfully for two different countries in two different events. In 1976, Kibbuuka represented Uganda in cross-country skiing at the inaugural winter Paralympics in Sweden. To escape the Idi Amin regime, Kibbuka then took Norwegian nationality and switched to middle-distancing running, taking part in three successive summer Paralympics. A pioneer of blind sport in Africa, he talks to Steve Hankey. The...


Fausto Coppi - Il Campionissimo

The Italian cyclist, Fausto Coppi, is considered one of the greatest riders of all time – known as “Il Campionissimo”, he was a two-time winner of the Tour De France and five-time winner of the Tour of Italy. But in his home country he is remembered equally for an affair with a married woman called Giulia Occhini, which scandalized the nation in the 1950s. Alicia Gioia talks to Faustino Coppi, Fausto Coppi’s son with Guilia Occhini, and to veteran Italian sports journalist, Gianpaolo...


The 'Crazy Gang' win the FA Cup

In May 1988, Wimbledon secured a shock victory over a great Liverpool side in the 1988 FA Cup Final. Known as the "Crazy Gang" because of their physicality and tough attitude, the Wimbledon players went one-nil up after 37 minutes and somehow kept the lead thanks to some typically uncompromising defending. Alex Capstick talks to Wimbledon goal hero, Lawrie Sanchez. (Photo: Lawrie Sanchez, centre left, celebrating with his Wimbledon team-mates. Credit: Getty Images)


Defying the Taliban

In December 2012, Maria Toorpakai Wazir reached the top 50 of women’s squash after an extraordinary struggle to become a professional player. Born in the tribal areas of Pakistan, Maria’s family disguised her as a boy until she was a teenager so she could try sport. After the Taliban discovered her true identity, Maria was threatened and she went into hiding until a Canadian former squash champion got her out of Pakistan. She talks to Ashley Byrne. The programme is a Made-In-Manchester...


Mary Peters

In 1972, the Northern Irish athlete Mary Peters became a hero across the sectarian divide in her country by winning the gold medal in pentathlon at the Munich Olympics. At the age of 33, Peters was coming to the end of her career but she took victory in the final 200-metre sprint by just one tenth of a second, setting a World Record in the process. Mary Peters talks to Ian Williams. PHOTO: Mary Peters in action (Getty Images)



In the 1980s, a group of French teenagers created a sport with no equipment, no coaches and no rules. Called Parkour, the idea is to convert your local town into an obstacle course by jumping across rooftops, vaulting walls and hanging off ledges. Parkour is now so popular that it has featured in a Madonna video and a James Bond film. Claire Bowes talks to one of Parkour's founders, Sebastien Foucan. PHOTO: Sebastien Foucan in action (Courtesy Sebastien Foucan)


Why I designed the prosthetic running leg

When sports enthusiast Van Phillips lost his foot in a water-skiing accident, he decided to design a prosthetic leg that would allow him to keep running. He used carbon graphite which was light, flexible and strong. His invention would revolutionise para-sports. He tells Rebecca Kesby how he was determined to improve the clumsy prosthetic legs available in the 1980s, to allow amputees to feel the freedom of physical speed and strength again. (Photo: The Flex-Foot Cheetah prosthetic running...


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)