Jonah Lomu

Jonah Lomu  Jonah Lomu, who died unexpectedly in November, 2015, at the age of just 40, after suffering a heart attack, was hailed as the first international superstar in rugby union. Lomu suffered from a rare kidney condition, known as nephrotic syndrome, which hampered his playing career and, ultimately, contributed to his death.

Lomu made his international debut, playing one the wing, for New Zealand against France at Lancaster Park, Christchurch on June 26, 1994, less than two months after his nineteenth birthday; in so doing, he became the youngest player ever to play for his country, beating the previous record set by inside centre Edward Wrigley in 1905. However, it was at the Rugby World Cup, hosted by South Africa, the following year that Lomu rose to prominence.

Standing 6’5″ tall and weighing in at 18 stone or more, Lomu was well-built, muscular and blessed with exceptional speed and nigh on unstoppable in full flight. He was particularly devastating in the semi-final against England in Cape Town, scoring four tries in a 45-29 victory, which led opposing captain Will Carling to call him ‘a freak’. New Zealand eventually lost the final 15-12 to the hosts at Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg, but Lomu was nonetheless named as ‘Player of the Tournament’.

At the 1999 Rugby World Cup, principally hosted by Wales, he scored eight tries to break the record for the most tries in a single tournament. All told, his 63 international caps yielded 37 tries, 15 of which came at the Rugby World Cup, making Lomu the joint-highest try scorer, alongside South African wing Brian Habana, in the history of the tournament.

The Best of Jonah Lomu

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Steve Davis

Steve Davis  Born in Plumstead, South East London on August 22, 1957, Steve Davis was introduced to snooker at an early age by his late father, Bill, who died in March, 2016, at the age of 89. However, it was after he joined forces with Barry Hearn – nowadays, of course, chairman of World Snooker, but at that time chairman of Lucania Snooker Clubs – as an 18-year-old that he began his rise to prominence. Davis turned professional in September, 1978 and, in 1980, won his maiden professional title in the UK Championship at the Guild Hall, Preston, where he whitewashed Terry Griffiths 9-0 in the semi-final and demolished Alex Higgins 16-6 in the final.

Davis reached the last 16 of the World Championship at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield in 1979 and the quarter-final in 1980, losing 13-11 and 13-9 to Dennis Taylor and Alex, respectively, before winning the first of six world titles in 1981. Notwithstanding a shock 10-1 defeat at the hands of Tony Knowles in the last 32 in 1982, Davis went on to dominate the World Championship, and snooker as a whole, throughout the Eighties. He was world champion again in 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988 and 1989, and runner-up in 1985 and 1986.

Indeed, the final frame of the 1985 World Championship, in which Dennis Taylor potted the crucial final black to beat Davis 18-17, having trailed 8-0 early in the second session of the match, is probably the most famous frame in the history of snooker. The so-called ‘black ball final’ lasted nearly 15 hours, eventually finishing after midnight, and attracted a record 18.5 million television viewers.

Davis also had the distinction of compiling the first televised maximum break, against John Spencer in the quarter-final of the Lada Classic in 1982. He announced his retirement from professional snooker, at the age of 58, in April, 2016, having won 81 professional titles, including 28 ranking titles.

Steve Davis – First Maximum Break on Television

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