The 15 Best: Moving moments

Shell is in the business of helping its customers move better. And just thinking about movement brings some powerful images to mind. But before you look at our selection of the 15 best moving moments, make a list of your own favourites, then see if you agree with our choices
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The Independent Travel

Choosing just 15 of the best moving moments was not easy because there are countless amazing examples. But none of them would have happened without astonishing levels of strength, artistry, bravery, discipline, ingenuity, chutzpah and determination. They are all firsts or record breakers; iconic moments in human history. Several were witnessed by millions of people live on television and they stick in our minds, not just for the achievement, but for the unforgettable visual memories we have of them. From the human-powered speed of Kelly Holmes, to the technological force that made Neil Armstrong's small step possible, movement is something to celebrate.

1 Nadia Comaneci flexes to seven perfect scores in gymnastics

Bo Derek may be immortalised on celluloid for being the perfect 10, but a Romanian teenager had earned this distinction in 1976 with her ability to move beautifully. Nadia Comaneci was the sensation of Montreal in 1976, becoming the first gymnast in the games' history to be awarded the maximum score of 10.0. The first 10 came on the uneven bars and she went on to earn six more, winning her two gold medals for the balance beam and uneven bars. Her gravity-defying floor routines stick in people's memories. And when the music she had used as an accompaniment was released as a single, retitled "Nadia's Theme", it entered the top 10 in the US pop charts.

2 Neil Armstrong walks on the moon

"Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed." So said Neil Armstrong, minutes before stepping from the lunar module to became the first person to walk on the moon, uttering the unforgettable words: " That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind." Millions of people worldwide watched the remarkable grainy TV images, as his colleague, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, joined him to collect data and plant the Stars and Stripes in the Sea of Tranquillity. They also left behind a plaque bearing an inscription reading: "Here men from the planet earth first set foot upon the moon, July 1969AD. We came in peace for all mankind."

3 Alcock and Brown fly non-stop across the Atlantic

Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown are aviation legends for flying non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean, the first people to do so. On 14 June 1919, they took off from Lester's Field, Newfoundland, in a Vimy IV aeroplane and after flying 1,890 nautical miles over open sea, landed 16 hours and 27 minutes later at Clifden in Ireland. They knew beforehand that special fuel would be required to give the flight necessary power and economy - and Shell came to the rescue by supplying it. A hero's welcome awaited them in London and they were awarded a special £10,000 prize and knighted in recognition of their outstanding feat. Their plane is on permanent display in London's Science Museum.

4 Roger Bannister runs first four-minute mile

Roger Bannister will forever be known as the first person who ran a mile in less than four minutes. The 25-year-old British medical student's time was three minutes 59.4 seconds, and his record-breaking feat took place on 6 May 1954 at Iffley Road track in Oxford, witnessed by 3,000 spectators. Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway were the pacemakers and they really went for it, but despite their tough pace and windy weather conditions, with crosswinds and 25mph gusts, Bannister still had enough energy to sprint 200 yards to the finishing line, where he collapsed in exhaustion. The crowd went mad when they realised he was the first man to run so far so fast.

5 Torvill & Dean skate to gold

For George Orwell, 1984 represented totalitarianism, but for Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, that year marked the pinnacle of their ice-dancing careers. Ice-dance fever gripped Britain, and on Valentine's Day, 24 million viewers tuned in to watch the duo move like never before to Ravel's Bolero in Sarajevo. Afterwards, flowers rained onto the ice as the crowd gave them a standing ovation. The judges agreed and in all, Torvill and Dean scored 12 out of 18 possible sixes for their free dance, and perfect scores for artistic impression. The gold medal was undeniably theirs - and the nation was ecstatic. Five weeks later, they were crowned world champions after earning a record-breaking maximum score.

6 Michael Schumacher drives to victory to win seventh world championship

Michael Schumacher's claim to be the greatest-ever Formula One driver was emphatically confirmed when he won the drivers' world championship for a record seventh time at the 2004 Belgium Grand Prix, making him, yet again, the fastest mover on the track. This was a huge accomplishment for Schumacher and Ferrari, made possible partly by its technical partner, Shell. It was an unprecedented season for the German driver, who scored a record 148 points after driving his way to first place in 13 races. Serendipitously, Belgium was where Schumacher first won a Grand Prix, in 1992.

7 Charles Blondin teeters across Niagara Falls on a tightrope with just a pole for support

Charles Blondin's mum might have argued that watching her funambulist (tightrope walker) son cross Niagara Falls on 30 June 1859 - along a 335m hemp rope, with only the help of a balancing pole - was no fun, but it was a walk she had to witness several times. Blondin started the daredevil feat on the US side and, when he reached the middle, did a backwards somersault, then pulled out a bottle of wine, had a drink and continued on to Canada. Walking back again, he balanced a chair on the tightrope and sat on it. In the following months, he made the crossing blindfolded, on stilts, and pushing a wheelbarrow.

8 Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay scale Mount Everest in 1953

"A symmetrical, beautiful snow cone summit" is how Sir Edmund Hillary described Mount Everest after he and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first to climb to the top of the world's highest mountain - and live to tell the tale. They scaled the summit on 29 May 1953, shook hands, took photographs and searched for signs that George Mallory and Andrew Irvine had conquered the summit in 1924 (they died trying). Then, after spending 15 minutes moving around on the top of the world, they left an offering each - Hillary, a crucifix and Norgay, sweets buried in the snow - and began their descent to a place in the history books.

9 Phil Collins zooms across the Atlantic on Concorde to perform at both London Live Aid and Live Aid in Philadelphia

On 13 July 1985, Phil Collins pulled off the rock-star equivalent of popping up at both ends of the row in those long school photos when he performed at Live Aid concerts in both London and Philadelphia. Without helicopters and a supersonic flight on Concorde, this great feat of performance and movement would have been impossible. After appearing with Sting at Wembley, he was whisked by chopper to Heathrow, boarded Concorde and just over three hours later, landed in New York. Customs and immigration were waived, enabling him to take a chopper immediately to Philadelphia to play with Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin. His combined stadium audience that day was around 162,000.

10 Ellen MacArthur sails round-the-world solo to break record

Seeing Ellen MacArthur on the deck of her trimaran as it sailed into Falmouth Harbour, accompanied by a huge flotilla of boats, her arms aloft as she was rapturously welcomed home by thousands of well-wishers, it's hard to imagine the adventure, danger and deprivations she had endured in the previous months sailing the world's oceans. This joyous homecoming was the conclusion of a record-breaking solo round-the-world voyage, a 27,000-mile journey that she completed in 71 days and 14 hours. She started in 2004 and finished in 2005 - on 7 February - having contended with icebergs, gale-force winds, mountainous seas and very little sleep on her momentous travels.

11 Kelly Holmes races to a second gold medal at the Athens games in 2004

The definition of joy is surely the expression on Kelly Holmes's face as she raced across the finishing line to win the 1,500m final at Athens two years ago, thereby winning her second gold medal of the competition. In doing so, she became the first Briton in 84 years to achieve the middle-distance double at the games. Before Athens, odds on Holmes achieving this historic feat were 100-1. On the night of the race, she continued her tactic of hanging back in the field until the closing stages. With 150m to go and in third place, she changed into high gear and powered through the line to race to victory, adulation and fame.

12 Björn Borg and John McEnroe's energetic Wimbledon final in 1980

The men's 1980 Wimbledon final between defending champion Björn Borg and first-time finalist John McEnroe can truly be described as a gladiatorial contest of energy, speed and agility. Borg started badly, but recovered and by the end of the fourth set, was playing a tie-break for the championship. This tie-break lasted an incredible 22 minutes, with 34 contested points in front of a Centre Court crowd that could not believe its eyes as Borg and McEnroe played tennis considered to be among the greatest ever seen at Wimbledon. In the end, Borg won the tie-break 18-16 and went on to win the match and, with it, his fifth successive Wimbledon singles title.

13 Red Rum races to record Grand National victory

Even non-racing fans know the name of Red Rum, the nation's favourite horse, who galloped into racing history on 2 April 1977 when he won the Grand National for an unprecedented third time. In five years, he had raced across the Grand National finishing line in first place an astonishing three times and was second twice. Even more remarkable is the fact that Red Rum was bred as a sprinter, but overcame a life-threatening bone disease to become champion of the world's most arduous steeplechase. In more than 100 races, he fell only once. Fans mourned when the legendary horse died: he is buried near the finishing line of Aintree, the course with which he is synonymous.

14 Elvis Presley dances his way to rock superstardom

Before Elvis Presley, popular singers were rather straight-laced. Presley's dance routine changed all that. When he appeared on American television, he made an unsuspecting nation sit up and take notice with his distinctive voice and movements. It was after his appearance on Milton Berle's Star Theatre in 1956, singing "Hound Dog" and "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You", that he was nicknamed "Elvis the Pelvis". Family-minded Ed Sullivan, whose show was essential viewing in America at the time, was forced into inviting Presley to sing for three nights, but after two "shocking" performances, Presley was filmed moving from the waist up for the final show.

15 Craig Breedlove powers to land-speed record

The Salt Flats of Utah are perfect for attempts at land-speed records, as they're remote, empty and, of course, flat. And it was there in 1963 that Craig Breedlove motored through the existing world record by clocking up a speed of 407mph in Spirit of America, powered by Shell fuel. Shell had sponsored Breedlove as he designed a car that would return the world record to America after three decades. It was built around a military-surplus J-47 engine and he continued to refine it, breaking his own records with speeds of 555mph, then 600mph. Breedlove wasn't beaten until 1983, when Briton Richard Noble clocked over 633mph.


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