Did Sir Donald Bradman really score a century off 22 balls?

The short answer is yes, he did. Really. On November 2, 1931, Bradman and his New South Wales teammate Oscar Wendell Bill represented a Blackheath XI against a Lithgow Pottery XI in a match to christen the newly-installed malthoid wicket at Blackheath. With the two star names together at the crease, Lithgow brought on off-spinner Bill Black who, as Bradman was reminded, had bowled ‘The Don’ for 52 in an exhibition match in Lithgow two months earlier.

Bradman reportedly told Wendell Bill, ‘I think I’ll have a go.’ Over the course of the next three eight-ball overs, he proceeded to dispatch Black and his teammate Horrie Baker to the far-flung corners of the Blue Mountains. Off the first, over from Black, Bradman scored 33 runs, including three sixes, three fours and a single off the last ball to retain the strike. Off the second, from Baker, he scored 40, courtesy of four fours and four sixes and off the third, again from Black, 29, including two fours and three sixes. Wendell Bill contributed just two singles, on the first and fifth balls of the third over, to rotate the strike.

With uninspiring figures of 2-0-62-0 to his name, Black pleaded to be taken off again, but that made little difference to Bradman, who went on to score 256, including 29 fours and 14 sixes. For the record, Wendell Bill scored 68. Reflecting on his innings, Bradman said later, ‘…everyone was surprised at the outcome, no-one more than I’, adding that, ‘…in later years he [Wendell Bill]

said he got more notoriety out of the two singles he scored in those three overs than anything else he ever did in his life.’

When did table tennis first feature as an Olympic sport?

The history of table tennis, albeit played with small, wooden rackets strung with catgut, or covered with vellum, and cloth-covered rubber, or cork, balls can be traced back to a series of patents filed, on both sides of the Atlantic, in 1890 and 1891. However, it was not until the introduction of the celluloid table tennis ball, which had ideal bounce characteristics, around the turn of the twentieth century that the game became succesful.

In 1926, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) was founded in Berlin but, although the inclusion of table tennis in the Olympic Games was discussed repeatedly over the years, ITTF President Ivor Montagu remained firmly opposed to the idea. For example, in 1946, he said, ‘…I think the Olympic Games should be restricted to athletics and similar events…’, adding that, ‘We…do not need the Olympics.’

After more than 40 years as ITTF President, Montagu retired in 1967 and, ten years later, ITTF members voted overwhelmingly in favour of a proposal to amend the ITTF Constitution such that it complied with the requirements of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Thus, in 1977, table tennis was formally recognised by the IOC and, four years later, admitted to the Olympic programme, starting with the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

In Seoul, a total of 129 athletes from 41 countries competed in four events, namely men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s singles and women’s doubles. The gold medallists in those events were Yoo Nam-kyu, representing the host nation, Chen Longcan and Wei Qingguang, representing China, Chen Jing, also representing China, and Hyun Jung-hwa and Yang Young-Jam, also representing the host nation. Collectively, China and South Korea won nine of the 12 medals awarded, with Yugoslavia winning two and Sweden one.

Who is, or was, the oldest male golfer to win a major championship?

In short, at the time of writing, the oldest male golfer to win a major championship was Philip Alfred ‘Phil’ Mickelson, who was 50 years, 11 months and 7 days old when he won the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, South Carolina on May 23, 2021. Mickelson trailed by two shots after the first round, but took a share of the lead after the second, thereby becoming the oldest player since Sam Snead, in 1966, to lead the PGA Championship after 36 holes. He retained the lead after 54 holes, thereby becoming the oldest player to lead a major championship at that stage since Tom Watson, aged 59, at the 2009 Open Championship.

In the final round, Mickelson briefly lost the lead after making a bogey on the first hole, but recovered to lead by two at the turn and, three more bogeys on the back nine, held on to win by that margin. In so doing, he beat the previous record for the oldest winner of a major championship held by compatriot Julius Boros, who won the PGA Championship at Pecan Valley Golf Club in San Antonio, Texas in 1968 at the age of 48 years, 4 months and 18 days.

Born in San Diego, California on June 16, 1970, Mickelson has, at the time of writing, won 45 PGA Tour events, including six major championships. His previous successes at the highest level came at the Masters Tournament, in 2004, 2006 and 2010, the PGA Championship, in 2005, and the Open Championship, in 2013. The victory at Kiawah Island was all the more remarkable for the fact that he was ranked 115 in the world at the time and had not won a major since playing what caddy Jim .

‘Bones’ Mackay called ‘the best round of his career’ to win the Claret Jug at Muirfield Golf Links in East Lothian, Scotland eight years previously.