Monaco's flamboyant flag day

Q&A
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Q. Has the man who waves the chequered flag ever been hit by a racing car?

A. In the Sixties, before the traffic-lights starts of the modern era, when Grand Prix races were begun by an official starter dropping the flag of the host nation, the Monaco Grand Prix was started by the former driver Louis Chiron, himself a Monegasque and winner of the race in 1931.

While the eccentric Chiron was the Race Director and Clerk of the Course, there were several near-misses at the start of the race, notably in 1967, when he was a split-second away from being mown down by the eventual winner, Denny Hulme.

Chiron's flamboyance and unpredictability with the flag often confused the drivers, who never quite knew when the flag would be dropped. Chiron was replaced, presumably on safety grounds, in 1969. - Adrian Brodkin, London N2

Q. From the Thirties to the late Seventies Madison Square Garden was regarded as the "Mecca of Boxing". What is it now? Las Vegas and Atlantic City appear to be the main arenas.

A. Undoubtedly Las Vegas has taken over as the main centre for big-money world title fights, although Madison Square Garden still plays host to much major American sport, including ice hockey and basketball, as well as continuing as a concert venue. The overwhelming factor in the Garden's decline as a boxing arena has been money.

The casinos and hotels, together with the open gambling available in Las Vegas (and, to a lesser extent, Atlantic City) generate a vast influx of dollars - the only way to support extravaganzas such as Mike Tyson's $25m comeback last weekend. Madison Square Garden, situated in New York with its tough gambling laws, enjoys none of these benefits.

No single venue in Las Vegas can now be regarded as a Mecca for boxing, as the Garden once was, but the arena that comes closest to assuming that title is undoubtedly the MGM Hotel complex - the scene of the aforementioned Tyson promotion - followed by Caesars Palace.

As an historic venue, the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles is perhaps the one which stands out as still hosting quality boxing bills. - Patrick Hicks, Bournemouth

A. The "Batley" of world boxing. - Richard Scruton, Northallerton

Q. Who and when was the last white West Indian to represent his country at cricket?

A. The last two white West Indians to play for them in Test cricket were C A Davis and G A Greenidge. Davis, from the Trinidad and Tobago club, was born on 1 January 1944, and gained 15 caps in all, the last two coming against Australia in the 1972-73 series.

Greenidge played three matches in that same rubber, the final of his five overall appearances. He was a Barbadian, born on 26 May 1948, who also turned out for Sussex in the County Championship. - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby

Q. As the football season gets under way, what is the heaviest defeat suffered by a club on the opening day of the league programme?

A. In spite of the heavy defeat inflicted by Middlesbrough on Brighton and Hove Albion at the beginning of the 1958-59 season, it must be acknowledged that at the end Brighton finished above Middlesbrough. - E Jones, Brighton

ANSWERS PLEASE

Q. On the first day of the new season (19 August), all 11 matches in the Vauxhall Conference had definite results, leaving the top half of the table with three points and the bottom half with none. Has this happened before in any division? - John Barraclough, Solihull

Q. It is customary for the media in this country to refer to the football club Bayern Munchen as Bayern Munich. Why is Munchen translated as Munich, but not Bayern as Bavaria? Are any other sports teams half-translated? And what is the foreign custom; what is the German for Preston North End? - P J Hulse, Preston

Q. In the 1995 athletics World Championship, the winner of the men's marathon, Martin Fiz, was coached by Sabino Podilla, who also coached Miguel Indurain to his Tour de France victories. Have there been any other instances where somebody has coached two or more people from different sporting disciplines to World Championship or Olympic level? - Stuart Scott, Reading

Q. I remember a "refined slogger" playing for Somerset in the Fifties, Harold Gimblett. I have just missed a play about him on Radio 4. Can anyone tell me the tragic circumstances leading to his suicide? - Keith Collins, Whitton, Middlesex

Q. When did a white athlete, male or female, last represent the United States in a major international competition, at a distance of less than 800 metres, and who was the last to win an Olympic medal? - Ian Jarvis, London N8

If you know the answers to any of these questions or have a sporting question of your own you would like answered, write to:

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