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Sporting Witness


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


United Kingdom




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




First women's Six Nations Rugby Championship

Nathalie Amiel was a star of French rugby for more than fifteen years, from when she started playing internationally aged 15. She was part of the French team which won the Five Nations, as well as the European Championship four times. The 2002 season was her final one, she finished off her career winning the first ever women's Six Nations Championship. Nathalie has been speaking to Laura Jones. (Photo: Nathalie Amiel playing for France. Credit: Nathalie Amiel)


Ammo Baba: Iraq's footballing hero

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. 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. His brother, Banwal Baba Dawud, spoke to Ashley Byrne in 2016. The programme is a Made...


Irene Van Dyk: Netball’s goal shooting star

In 2012 Irene helped lead her New Zealand team Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic to victory, beating the Melbourne Vixens in the ANZ Championships. She later went on to play for New Zealand’s national team, the Silver Ferns. Originally from South Africa, she initially faced a hostile media who didn’t accept her as a New Zealand player, but with her success she eventually became a national treasure. She is the most-capped netballer of all time. Irene has been speaking to Alex Collins. (Photo: Irene...


The boxing referee who started a riot

In 1988, New Zealand referee Keith Walker facilitated a fight between South Korean boxer Byun Jung II and Bulgarian boxer Aleksandr Khristov. The Bulgarian won the match 4 -1, but when the bell rang, the ring erupted into chaos, with the referee defending himself from the punches that were being thrown his way. Soon afterwards, he decided to quit refereeing. Vicky Carter spoke to Keith Walker. (Photo: South Korean assistant boxing coach Lee Chung-Ha grabs New Zealand referee Keith Walker....


The first Basketball World Cup

In 1950, Argentina hosted the inaugural Basketball World Cup for ten teams from around the world. Argentina beat the USA 64–50 in the final in Buenos Aires on 3 November. Rachel Naylor speaks to Ricardo González, Argentina's captain. (Photo: Ricardo González in 2023. Credit: María Eva González)


Muay Thai: World champion Sylvie Von Duuglas-Ittu

American Sylvie Von Duuglas-Ittu started Muay Thai fighting in Boulder, Colorado. It was a trip to Thailand that made her realise that if she wanted to progress in the sport, she would have to move there permanently to train and fight. She quickly became one of the best fighters in the martial art, surpassing 200 fights; something no other western fighter has achieved in Thailand. She became WBC Muay Thai minimum weight world champion in 2023. Sylvie has been speaking to Wayne Wright for...


The Vatican's mini-World Cup

In 2007, the first ever Clericus Cup was played, with trainee priests from the Vatican City's seminaries competing. It was an effort to present a different image of football, following various Italian scandals. Don Davide Tisato, the captain of the winning team and a former professional footballer, has been speaking to Laura Jones, along with Felice Alborghetti from the Centro Sportivo Italiano. (Photo: Davide Tisato lifting the Clericus Cup with his team Redemptoris Mater. Credit: Centro...


First women's cyclo-cross world championship

In 2000, female riders were able to take part in the cyclo-cross world championship for the first time. There has been a men’s event since 1950, but took another half century for female riders to be allowed to take part. Cyclo-cross involves races on grassland and sand, which includes steep gradients and often sees riders forced to jump off and run with their bikes across muddy sections of the course. Matthew Kenyon has been talking to Dutch rider Daphny van den Brand about the sport, her...


Calciopoli: The Juventus scandal

In 2006, Italy's most successful team, Juventus, were relegated from the Italian top division due to their involvement in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal. The decision to demote Juventus came just days after Italy had won the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Journalist Paddy Agnew covered the case extensively from his base in Rome. He has been sharing his memories of that time with Matt Pintus. (Photo: Juventus managing director Luciano Moggi pictured in 2006. Credit: Getty Images)


Tiger Woods wins his first major

At the age of 21, Tiger Woods won the US Masters in 1997 by dominating the tough golf course in Augusta. Despite turning professional only a few months before, he destroyed the competition, winning the tournament by 12 strokes. He was the first black man to win the Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club, which had only allowed their first black member in 1990. This incredible win was the start of him becoming golf's most transcendent superstar. (Photo: Tiger Woods receives the Masters...


First woman to win Olympic gold in windsurfing

Top New Zealand windsurfer Barbara Kendall was run over by a power boat at Christmas 1991 and told she should not sail again. She refused to believe the doctors and became the first woman to win a gold medal in windsurfing at the Olympics. Barbara has been speaking to Laura Jones. (Photo: Barbara with her gold medal on the podium at the Barcelona Olympics. Credit: Barbara Kendall)


Kenya's first Winter Olympian

In 1998, a Kenyan farmer called Philip Boit became one of the first Africans to compete in the Winter Olympics. In the 10-kilometre cross-country skiing final he faced the legendary Norwegian, Bjorn Daehlie. It was a race that would unite the two athletes and inspire future Winter Olympians across Africa. Maddy Savage spoke to both skiers in 2014. (Photo: Bjoern Daehlie of Norway congratulates Philip Boit of Kenya after Boit finished the mens 10k cross country race at Snow Harp during the...


The Maccabiah Games

The first Maccabiah Games, a multi-sport event for Jewish athletes, were held in 1932. They now take place every four years in Israel. Rachel Naylor speaks to Carina Benninga, who won a gold medal in 1989, as captain of the Dutch hockey team. (Photo: Carina Benninga, top row, second from left, and the Dutch hockey team at the Maccabiah Games in 1989. Credit: Carina Benninga)


The Mongol Rally: Racing in one of the greatest road trips on Earth

In 2004 the Mongol Rally was created; a global road trip where drivers race over 16,000 km from England to Mongolia. There’s no set route and you have to use a car with a tiny engine. A year later it was introduced to the wider world for the first time and Richard Birch from England took on the challenge with his friends, all in an old Fiat Panda. Richard tells Vicky Carter about his memories of the journey across Europe, Russia and Asia. (Photo: Two cars competing in the Mongol Rally in...


Nicol David: How to be a number 1 squash player for 9 years

Malaysian Nicol David talks to Uma Doraiswamy about the moment she became world number 1 in squash and how she stayed there for 9 years in a row. When she first started playing, her racquet was bigger than she was. Through her hard work and perseverance, she dominated the game winning titles and trophies throughout her career. (Photo: Nicol David of Malaysia during the Women's Squash Singles Final at the Asian Games in August 2018. Credit: Getty Images)


Ruud Krol: The World Cup meets Total Football

Dutch football start Ruud Krol tells Matthew Kenyon about the Netherlands’ campaign at the 1974 World Cup. The team, coached by Rinus Michels and featuring the great Johan Cruijff, stunned the football world with the quality of their performance, as they brought the ‘Total Football’ philosophy which Michels had instituted at Ajax to the global stage. They are still remembered as one of the greatest ever international teams. (Photo: German Gerd Muller beats Ruud Krol (12) and Arie Haan to...


Zaire's infamous World Cup free-kick moment

In 1974, Zaire became just the third African nation to take part in football’s World Cup. Having been crowned African champions earlier that same year, the team known as the Leopards had big hopes for a successful tournament in West Germany. However, their campaign is predominantly remembered for a 9-0 defeat and a moment viewed by many as something comedic. Mwepu Ilunga’s decision to run out of a defensive wall and smash the ball downfield as opponent’s Brazil prepared to take a free-kick...


Kuwait at the 1982 World Cup

With the the Middle East's first football World Cup underway, we look back to when Kuwait made its first and only appearance at the World Cup in 1982. The amateur side put in respectable performances against France and England. But press attention focused on the Kuwaitis’ team mascot, a camel called Haydoo, who became such a fan favourite that he even inspired a hit song. Sumaya Bakhsh talked to Kuwait's captain at the tournament, Saad Al-Houti, about how Haydoo came to represent national...


When Diana Ross missed a penalty at the World Cup

In 1994, the USA hosted the FIFA World Cup for the first time. The choice of host nation was a controversial one because, at that time, the US didn't have an active professional football league. Alan Rothenberg was the man in charge of organising the competition. He decided to book Motown legend, Diana Ross, to headline the opening ceremony in Chicago. Her penalty miss in front of 67,000 fans became an iconic moment in World Cup history. Alan has been sharing his memories of the tournament...


The Golden Girls of Zimbabwe

In 1980, the newly independent nation of Zimbabwe was invited to enter a women's hockey team at the Olympic Games in Moscow. Despite their unfamiliarity with the pitches - and each other - the players won an unexpected gold medal and were nicknamed the Golden Girls. In 2016, Claire Bowes talked to Liz Chase, one of the victorious Zimbabweans. (Photo: Zimbabwe's women's hockey team display their gold medals. Credit: Patricia McKillop via Alamy)