Hannu Mikkola, who has died aged 78, was a world rally champion and one of the greatest figures in his sport amid its transformation from one based on the use of modified “showroom” production cars to the specially built supercars of the 1980s; and he pioneered the four-wheel-drive sports car revolution by taking the original Audi Quattro to its first World Championship rally title in 1983. “Mikkola the magnificent”, as a Daily Mirror headline once tagged him, made the Ford Escort rally car dance on ice, gravel and mud. The leader of the “Flying Finns” – a group of Finnish rally drivers whose flamboyant driving styles often resulted in rally cars becoming airborne, or driven sideways, Mikkola was renowned as a fast pair of hands on all surfaces; so quick were his movements at the steering wheel that his hands were often out of focus. He was a seven-time winner of the 1000 Lakes Rally of Finland and prevailed in the British RAC Rally on four occasions. Mikkola’s record also included … [Read more...] about Hannu Mikkola, world rally champion who led the ‘supercar’ revolution in his sport – obituary
Gillian Sheen, who has died aged 92, was the first – and so far only – Briton to win an Olympic gold medal in fencing. Although a seven-times national champion, the 28-year-old arrived in Melbourne for the 1956 Games as a rank outsider. A dental surgeon by profession, she was said to have built up strength in her wrists through pulling teeth, and kept herself fighting fit with a meal of steak and a glass of burgundy after each training session. Despite a strong start at the 1956 Games she struggled in the semi-final rounds, winning just two rounds out of five. She edged into the final by defeating the world champion, Lídia Dömölky-Sákovics of Hungary, in a hard-fought contest to decide her place in the round-robin final pool. There she lost her first bout to Olga Orban-Szabo of Romania, but won her other six bouts to finish at the top of the finals group table. She then faced a winner-takes-all bout for the gold medal in individual foil fencing. Though Olga Orban-Szabo started … [Read more...] about Gillian Sheen, dentist by day who in 1956 won the first and only British Olympic gold medal in fencing – obituary
Alan Igglesden, who has died of cancer aged 57, was a cricketer who owing to injuries and an abundance of similar fast and fast-medium bowlers in the English game played in only three Test matches. He was also unfortunate in other regards: he made his debut against a strong Australian side in 1989 when the Ashes had already been lost, having been given a far from ringing endorsement by the manager, Mickey Stewart. By the time of this final Test at the Oval, Stewart could offer no further excuses for England’s woeful displays other than to say that Igglesden was “the 17th best seamer in the country” – a reference to injuries and the fact that the selectors had called on 29 players during the series. It was unwarranted and unfair, and indeed this last-ditch recruit was to take the wickets of three upper-order batsmen in Geoff Marsh, Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh. Igglesden then went on the England A tour of Kenya and Zimbabwe in 1990 but was not fit enough to take part in the series … [Read more...] about Alan Igglesden, fast bowler who was considered unlucky not to play for England more than a handful of times – obituary
Bob Falkenburg, the tennis player who has died aged 95, was one of the gilded generation of American champions who dominated the amateur postwar game until the mid-1950s; he was the last surviving Wimbledon champion of the 1940s, having taken the title, his only major singles crown, in 1948, after one of the most thrilling finals of all time. His upset victory, at the age of just 22, made him the youngest men’s champion until the 17-year-old Boris Becker in 1985. Falkenburg went on to great entrepreneurial success, founding South America’s first fast food and soft ice cream outlets near Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. Robert Falkenburg was born on January 29 1926 into a prosperous middle-class family in Manhattan, the eldest of three bright, sporty children. Much of his childhood was spent in Brazil and Chile, where his father Eugene worked as an engineer. Eugene and Bob’s mother Marguerite were keen tennis players, and after moving to California in 1935 they joined the ritzy … [Read more...] about Bob Falkenburg, tennis player who was the youngest Wimbledon men’s singles champion until Boris Becker – obituary
Which stars are on the wane? Serena Williams and Roger Federer have long outplayed journalists who attempted to draft their respective sporting obituaries ahead of time. But as much as fans beg them both to keep up the fight, 2022 could see two of the sport's greats bow out for a final time - or fizzle out as injuries hamper their chances. Despite being voted as the ATP's fan favourite for a 19th-straight year, Federer played just 13 matches in 2021 due to injury. After turning 40 over the summer, he revealed he did not envision returning from his long-term knee injury until after Wimbledon in 2022, such is the long-term rehabilitation process he faces. He is adamant of a return to Centre Court though, saying recently that the excruciating 6-0 final set he lost to Hubert Hurkacz in July cannot be the lasting memory: "My fans deserve better than the image of my last grass season." Though retirement may not yet be fully coming into focus on the horizon, we will likely see very … [Read more...] about Tennis health check for 2022: Which stars are waning, who is on the rise and what is the looming crisis?
Evening briefing: Today's essential headlines Sidney Poitier dies | Sidney Poitier, the first black man to win the Best Actor Academy Award, has died at the age of 94 . A big box-office star for roles in films like Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night and Lilies of the Field, for which he won his Oscar, he was admired by white and black cinema audiences alike for the subtle integrity of his acting and for his striking good looks. Read his Telegraph obituary . Kazakhstan crisis | President orders shoot-to-kill 'without warning' Jack Dromey | Labour MP married to Harriet Harman dies, aged 73 Man stabbed | Boy, 13, arrested on suspicion of murder in London 'Thundersnow' forecast | Storms grind major UK roads to a halt Postman delivers | Letter arrives using 'life story' instead of address The big story: Wales case rates rising three times faster Covid case rates in Wales are rising almost three times faster than those in … [Read more...] about Friday evening UK news briefing: Sidney Poitier dies – obituary
Evening briefing: Today's essential headlines Djokovic saga | Novak Djokovic is being investigated over whether he falsely stated he had not travelled and would not do so in the two weeks prior to his flight to Australia. Read more on the latest twist in the deportation furore , while Tom Morgan profiles the world number one's parents, detailing their feud with Roger Federer and his mother's depiction as Serbia's 'Virgin Mary' . More tennis news in Sport below. Possible attack | Warm weather 'delays' Russia invasion of Ukraine Ghislaine Maxwell | Heiress 'can avoid perjury charges if no retrial' Love child | King of Belgium 'reduced illegitimate daughter to tears' Robert Durst | TV mic slip-up led to murder conviction – obituary Same-sex couple | Lord Ivar Mountbatten's ex-wife in 'blended family' The big story: Johnson will not resign, says minister It was a contribution which summed up the feelings stirred by what has become known as … [Read more...] about Tuesday evening UK news briefing: Why Partygate could finish Boris Johnson
Damascus — At the end of August, Syrian President Bashar Assad reshuffled his cabinet, bringing in some new names to try to fix an economy ravaged by almost a decade of civil war and the coronavirus pandemic . But as new research from London makes clear, getting a grip on the COVID-19 epidemic in Syria — even grasping the scale of it — will be a big challenge for the reshaped government as it tries to wind down the war that has claimed more than 500,000 lives and rebuild the economy. Syria's government has officially confirmed only 2,703 coronavirus cases and 109 deaths in the territory it controls since the pandemic began. There are no reliable figures for the small portion of the country held by rebel groups, or the significant swathe of northeast Syria controlled by Kurdish forces. According to the official statistics, the country's caseload, both in total numbers and per capita, hovers near the bottom of global rankings. But medics and residents say the real … [Read more...] about Syria may only be counting 1.25% of its actual coronavirus deaths, study says