Sporting Witness

Sporting Witness

United Kingdom

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


Simon Beresford – Marathon Runner with Down's Syndrome  

In 2007, Simon Beresford became the first runner with Down's Syndrome to complete the London Marathon. Simon has gone on to run several more marathons and raise tens of thousands of dollars for charity. Rebecca Kesby met Simon, his running partner and his parents at their home in the English Midlands. PHOTO: Simon Beresford and running partner, John Dawson (Family Collection)

Janet Guthrie - First Woman at the Indy 500  

In 1977, Janet Guthrie became the first woman to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 - the biggest race in American motorsport. Guthrie, a former aerospace engineer, had faced opposition and scepticism from male drivers and some sections of the press. She talks to Rachael Gillman. PHOTO: Janet Guthrie after qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 in 1977 (Getty Images)

Red Rum  

In April 1977, Red Rum entered the history books when he became the first and only horse to win Britain's famous Grand National race three times. Red Rum and his trainer, Ginger McCain, became immensely popular figures in the world of racing and beyond. Simon Watts tells their story through the BBC archives. PHOTO: Red Rum in the Grand National winner's enclosure in 1977 (Getty Images)

The rise and fall of Parma Football Club  

In the 1990s, the small Italian city of Parma had one of the most successful and entertaining teams in European football, winning several trophies and featuring great players such as Faustino Asprilla, Gianfranco Zola and Guinluigi Buffon. But FC Parma’s glory days were bankrolled by the Italian conglomerate, Parmalat, which later became embroiled in one the biggest corporate scandals in European history. FC Parma now languish in Italy’s third division. Nick Marsh talks to Parma super-fan, Vittorio Farnetti, and historian and former Parma resident, Tobias Jones. PHOTO: Parma's passionate fans in 1993 (Getty Images)

Kirsty Coventry - Zimbabwe's Golden Girl  

In 2004, the Zimbabwean swimmer, Kirsty Coventry, won the first of two Olympic gold medals at the Athens games. By the end of her career, she would become the most decorated Olympian in African history and a hero in Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe hailed her as a "Golden Girl". Kirsty Coventry talks to Nija Dalal-Small. The programme is a Sparklab Production

Lucho Herrera - Colombian Tour de France Hero  

In 1984, Lucho Herrera, a former gardener from the Colombian mountains, stunned the world of cycling by storming to victory on the most famous climb in the sport, the Alpe d'Huez. It was the beginning of a golden age for Colombian cyclists. Simon Watts talks to Lucho Herrera, and Colombian cycling fan, Matt Rendell, author of Kings of the Mountains. PHOTO: Lucho Herrera on an Alpine stage in the 1980s (Rex).

Pakistan Cricket Bus Attack  

In March 2009, heavily-armed gunmen attacked buses carrying the touring Sri Lankan Cricket team and match officials to a game in the Pakistani city of Lahore. Rebecca Kesby speaks to Ahsan Raza, a Pakistani Umpire who was badly injured in the attack, and Chris Broad, the British referee credited with saving his life. PHOTO: Pakistani police patrolling the cricket stadium in Lahore following the 2009 attack (Getty Images)

Lionel Rose - Aboriginal Boxing Hero  

In February 1968, the aboriginal fighter Lionel Rose was cheered by Australians of all races when he won the world bantamweight boxing title. Ashley Byrne talks to Rose's rival and later friend, Noel Kunde. The programme is a Made-In-Manchester Production. PHOTO: Lionel Rose celebrating his world championship victory in 1968 (Getty Images)

Nancy Kerrigan Attack  

In January 1994, the US ice-skater Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed in the knee shortly after a training session, putting her Olympic hopes in jeopardy. To the shock of America, the plot was traced back to the entourage of one of Nancy Kerrigan's rivals, Tonya Harding. In 2012, Kerrigan's coach, Mary Scotvold, gave her first interview about the attack to Sporting Witness. The programme is a Whistledown Production. PHOTO: Tonya Harding (left) and Nancy Kerrigan (right) during practice at the 1994 Winter Olympics (Getty Images)

FC St Pauli - Germany's "Pirate" Football Club  

In the 1980s, punks and squatters in the run-down port district of Hamburg began to adopt the local football team, FC St Pauli. They turned the club into a champion of left-wing politics and created such a good atmosphere at matches that FC St Pauli now attracts supporters from around the world. Results on the pitch are still poor, but on one memorable occasion in 2002, the team beat German giants, Bayern Munich. Claire Bowes talks to FC St Pauli fan, Sven Brux. PHOTO: FC St Pauli fans flying their Pirate flags (Getty Images)

Doug Williams - First Black Quarterback at the Superbowl  

In 1988, Doug Williams of the Washington Redskins made history by becoming the first African-American quarterback to play in the Superbowl - the biggest sporting event in the USA. Williams overcame injury to lead the Redskins to an unexpected 42-10 win over the Denver Broncos. He speaks to Lisa Needham. The programme is a Sparklab Production. PHOTO: Doug Williams in action at the 1988 Superbowl (Getty Images)

South Korea's King of Computer Gaming  

In the early 2000s, competitive computer-gaming, or eSports, began to take off in South Korea before spreading to the rest of the world. Ashley Byrne talks to e-gamer, Lim Yo-hwan, nicknamed Boxer, one of the biggest names in the new sport. The programme is a Made-In-Manchester Production. PHOTO: An e-gamer taking part in a tournament in South Korea (Getty Images)

Jutta Kleinschmidt - Woman Winner of the Paris-Dakar Rally  

In January 2001, the German driver, Jutta Kleinschmidt, became the first - and only - woman to win the Paris-Dakar rally, one of the biggest events in motorsport. She talks to Simon Watts. PHOTO: Jutta Kleinschmidt celebrating her victory in 2001 (Getty Images)

Abhinav Bindra - India's First Olympic Gold Medalist  

In 2008, India won its first ever individual gold medal in the Olympics after nearly 100 years of trying. The winner was a rifle shooter called Abhinav Bindra, who received more than 300,000 letters of congratulations from his fellow Indians. Abhinav Bindra talks to Farhana Haider about his obsessive battle for victory. PHOTO: Abhinav Bindra with his Olympic gold medal (Getty Images)

Lamine Gueye - Senegalese Skier  

In 1984, Lamine Gueye of Senegal became the first black African skier to take part in the Winter Olympics. The grandson of a prominent Senegalese politician, Gueye founded his country's ski federation and for a long time was the only member. He talks to Tayo Popoola. The programme is a Whistledown Production. PHOTO: Lamine Gueye in action (Getty Images)

The Toughest Dog-Sled Race in the World  

The Iditarod dog-sled race runs through 1,000 miles of Arctic wildnerness in Alaska and is regarded as one of the toughest sporting events in the world. In the winter of 1985, Libby Riddles drew international attention to the Iditarod by becoming the first woman to win. She talks to Robert Nicholson. The programme is a Whistledown Production. It was first broadcast in January 2016. (Photo: Libby Riddles in 1985. Credit: Associated Press)

Esther Vergeer  

At the 2012 Paralympic Games, the Dutch wheelchair tennis player, Esther Vergeer, took two gold medals and completed one of the longest winning streaks in sport. By remaining undefeated for more than a decade, Vergeer became a hero in the Netherlands and earned the admiration of all tennis players. She talks to Ashley Byrne. The programme is a Made-In-Manchester Production. PHOTO: Esther Vergeer at the 2012 London Paralympics (Getty Images)

Love at the Cold War Olympics  

At the 1956 Olympics, the Czechoslovak discus thrower, Olga Fikotova, caused a scandal by falling in love with an American hammer thrower called Harold Connolly. Despite winning her country's only gold medal, Olga was treated as a potential traitor by the communist government and her achievements were ignored. A few months later, Harold Connolly visited Prague to marry Olga and take her back to America with him. Olga Fikotova tells her story to Claire Bowes. PHOTO: Harold Connolly and Olga Fikotova on their honeymoon in 1957 (Associated Press)

Texas Western - Black Basketball Pioneers  

In 1966, an all-black team went head-to-head with an all-white team for the National College Basketball championship - one of the biggest prizes in American sport. To the surprise of every pundit, the African-Americans of Texas Western College defeated the University of Kentucky, then the number one team in the country. The game is now regarded as breaking down the colour barrier in US basketball. Nija Dalal-Small talks to Nevil Shed of Texas Western. The programme is a Sparklab Production for BBC World Service. PHOTO: Texas Western celebrate their victory in 1966 (Getty Images)

Ammo Baba - Iraqi Football Hero  

In 2009, thousands of Iraqis gathered at the National Football Stadium to attend the funeral of the player and coach, Emmanuel Baba Dawud, better known as Ammo Baba. Ammo Baba was a beloved player, whose heading ability was legendary and who scored Iraq's first ever international goal. As a coach, Ammo Baba won many regional trophies for the Iraqi team and stood up to Saddam Hussein's sadistic son, Uday. His brother, Banwal Baba Dawud, talks to Ashley Byrne. The programme is a Made-In-Manchester Production. PHOTO: Mourners at Ammo Baba's funeral (Getty Images)

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