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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


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




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)


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)