And the baton is passed…it’s time for the second lap in our series of Sporting High-Fives – looking back at the 25 years we’ve been providing storage to the good folk of Camden, Southwark, and Wandsworth. If you hung your lycra up after the last blog – best put it back on quick – because we’re about to fire the gun again. There’s still a whopping 20 years to go in our reflection on the Capital’s sporting history over the past 25 years When you left us in 1997, Pete Sampras was winning his third Wimbledon Championship…
1998 – The Fastest Boat Race.
1998 was the year that Cambridge monstered the Boat Race, extending their winning streak to 6. In a heated race with plenty of oar clashes and warnings from the umpire, not only did they have the heaviest crew in the history of the event, they powered to a three-length win and smashed the course record by 26 seconds with a stunning time of 16 minutes and 19 seconds. Whilst defeated, Oxford crossed the line 9 seconds later, thereby recording the second fastest time over the course to date.
In the Marathon, Abel Anton of Spain overhauled Abdelkader El Mouaziz (who had earlier established a 40metre lead) within the last mile to take the victory. He missed Pinto’s year-old record by n excruciating two-second margin. The women’s Elite race, a perfectly timed breakaway by Ireland’s Catherina McKiernan at 17 miles, saw her chase down and pass the two leaders, eventually finishing victorious in a time of 2:26:26.
The FA Cup saw Arsenal in their thirteenth FA Cup final took on Newcastle at Wembley. They beat the North Eastern side 2-0 thereby winning their second double – having secured the Premiership two weeks earlier.
Pete Sampras won his 4th Wimbledon Championship, beating grass-court-specialist and crowd favourite Goran Ivanisevic – it was a 5 set thriller and Sampras’s 5th Wimbledon title. Meanwhile, in the ladies final Jana Novena overcame Natalie Tauziat in two sets to take her first and only Grand Slam title.
1999 – Cambridge still quick.
Cambridge took their winning run to 7 in the Boat Race – the first time they’d managed that since 1936. They didn’t eclipse 1998’s record but came close – posting the second-fastest winning time in history and beating Oxford by 11 seconds – 3 1/2 boat lengths.
In London’s greatest running race Joyce Chepchumba managed her race perfectly to surpass the women’s course record by 2 seconds, winning in a time of 2:23:22. In the men’s competition victor Abdelkader El Mouaziz avenged his 1998 defeat, but in like Abel Anton 1998, he missed out on the course record by 2 seconds.
’99’s FA Cup was a northern affair – Newcastle, returning for the second year running, took on Manchester United, but were again beaten 2 – nil with goals by England favourites Teddy Sheringham and Paul Scholes in the 11th and 53rd minutes.
In Wimbledon’s women’s final American Lindsay Davenport beat Steffi Graf. In the men’s final it was an all American affair as Pete Sampras took on Graf’s future husband – Andre Agassi, beating him straight sets to take his 6th and penultimate Wimbledon title.
2000 – Sampras Equals the Wimbledon Record.
In the 146th edition of the Boat Race, Oxford finally broke Cambridge’s winning streak. In a tense and close battle where the lead changed repeatedly, the Oxford Boat eventually finished 8 seconds ahead of Cambridge, albeit – compared to the previous two years – in a much slower overall time.
London’s 26 miles 385-yard running race was won by Antonio Pinto in a stunning course and European record time of 2:06:36. The women’s elite – with arguably the strongest field in the Race’s history – was far more of a tactical battle and was won by Tegla Loroupe, who was nursing a hip injury – the slow pace of the race was to her advantage.
The iconic twin towers of Wembley Stadium played host to their last ever FA Cup Final in 2000 – the competition was relocated to Cardiff’s Millennium stadium for 2001 – 2006. London side Chelsea took on West Midlanders Aston Villa, beating them 1-0. The goal again scored by Roberto Di Matteo who had scored for the Blues three years earlier.
Pete Sampras saw off Aussie Patrick Rafter to win a record-equalling 7th Wimbledon championship (his fourth in succession). Over in the women’s final a young woman called Venus Williams broke through to win her first Grand Slam, beating Lindsay Davenport to the women’s singles title.
With the FA Cup taking a break from London whilst Wembley is redevelopment – and moving to Cardiff until 2007 we’ll give reporting that a sabbatical too.
2001 – The Only Restart in the Boat Race’s History.
There was a controversy at the Boat Race after the Umpire declared a restart after a clash of blades. Cambridge took their 8th win in 9 races and their lead overall to 8 (76:68).
Pat Rafter made it to the men’s final for the second year running – but was beaten by crowd favourite and tournament wildcard Goran Ivanisevic in his fourth Wimbledon singles final in a 5 set blockbuster that went to 9-7 in an epic fifth set tiebreaker. Venus Williams retained her crown in the Women’s Singles – beating Belgian Justine Henin in three sets.
The Mall saw track runner and relative marathon newbie Derartu Tulu take the win in the Women’s Elite London Marathon. Another hugely tactical race, which she did not lead until Parliament Square, very close to the end. Abdelkader El Mouaziz was masterful in the men’s elite race, winning with a personal best of 2:07:11.
2002 – Cambridge loses by a three-quarters length – and Asthma.
The Boat Race was a thriller, with one of the closest finishes in the races 148 event history. Oxford pipped Cambridge to win by a slender three-quarters length. Cambridge, holding a narrow lead could well have won, but their number four suffered an Asthma attack and collapsed rounding the Surrey bend the Oxford Boat was able to close-in and take the win.
In the women’s final, Venus Williams faced her little sister Serena and lost in two straight sets. It was the match that would set the scene for women’s Tennis for well over a decade. In the men’s match, Australian Leyton Hewitt beat Argentina’s David Nalbandian in straight sets.
The London Marathon was the fastest in history and a new world record in the men’s elite race. Khalid Khannouchi broke his own world record by 4 seconds, to win by 10 seconds from Paul Tergat – with Haile Gebrselassie in third. All three eclipsed the course record held by Abdelkader El Mouaziz, who came in fourth with the only consolation being he beat his previous fastest record. In the women’s race, Paula Radcliffe annihilated the field, breaking away to lead from 9 miles out, finishing in 2:18:56 posting the second fastest Marathon time in history.