London lifts the gold standard

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The Independent Online
Q. Which was Britain's best and worst Olympic Games for medals and which event has proved to be our most and least successful?

A. Britain's most successful Olympics were the London Games of 1908, when no fewer than 145 medals were won, including 56 golds. Post-war, Britain did best in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, with five gold medals among an overall total of 37. The Melbourne Games of 1956 actually yielded one more gold, but only 24 in total.

Without doubt, Britain's least successful Games were in St Louis in 1904, when just one silver medal was won. In modern times, the Helsinki Games of 1952 yielded 11 medals, with solitary gold being won by the show jumping team, led by Capt Harry Llewellyn on the legendary Foxhunter.

Regarding Britain's best and worst events, there are, of course, many at which a medal has never been won, such as volleyball, Greco-Roman wrestling and table tennis, but of those which have featured in every Games since 1896, discus, pole vault, foil and sabre fencing are the only ones to have been non-productive.

Our most successful event in terms of medals won overall would be the men's 1500 metres, with a haul of 14. However, in terms of gold medals, Britain has achieved most in the men's 800m and coxless pairs rowing, with six golds having been won in each. - Rod Cross, Southampton

Q. Who was the first foreigner to play professional football in Britain?

A. I believe the first foreign and

black professional footballer to play in Britain was Arthur Wharton. He was born in what is now Ghana and kept goal for Preston North End in 1886. He also played for Rotherham Town, Stockport County, Sheffield United and Ashton North End. He also enjoyed considerable success on the track as a sprinter and as a cyclist. He died in 1930, aged 65. - Bernard Aspinwall, Glasgow


Q. The USPGA starts at Louisville, Kentucky, this week, but in 1958, after more than 40 years as a matchplay event, the the fourth major golf tournament changed its format to strokeplay. What was the reason for this change, which has continued until today? - Ronald Crowther, West Hartlepool

Q. In the season 1975-76, Liverpool had the misfortune of drawing West Ham United, the FA Cup holders, and Derby County, the League champions in successive rounds of the FA Cup. Had this a precedent, or has it happened since? - Tim Bennett, Lydney

Q. Last season Darlington lost only one away game in the Third Division, yet failed to gain automatic promotion to the Second Division. Is this a record? - Robin Kettle, Birmingham

Q. Why does the Open golf championship seemingly have to be held at a links course? - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby

If you know the answers to any of these questions or have a question of your own, write to Q & A, Sports Desk, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL

Fax: 0171-293 2894