New Zealand’s Ivan Mauger, regarded as the world’s greatest speedway rider died today at the age of 78. The Christchurch-born Ivan, who won a record six individual World Championships was voted the ‘Greatest Speedway Rider of the 20th Century.’ He was also runner-up three times. In all the speedway ace won 15 world titles, mostly in the 1970’s along with countless other events and enjoyed International celebrity status.
I can’t remember when or where Ivan signed this biro sketch for me, but I have a feeling it may have been in Wellington in 1990 when he was the inaugural inductee into the NZ Hall of Fame. RIP Ivan.
Austrian Marcel Hirscher is considered the best alpine skier… ever. With a record seven consecutive World Cup titles and six World Championship gold medals he has dominated the sport like no other in the slalom-giant and combined. At this year’s Winter Olympics in South Korea he won both the combined and giant slalom titles to consolidate his status. After which I quickly drew this sketch and sent it to Marcel at his Austrian base. Even quicker than his downhill run it came back signed and dedicated.
Twenty-two year old Czech snowboarder and alpine skier Ester Ledecka made history at this year’s Winter Olympics in Pyongyang, South Korea, becoming the first person to not only compete in snowboarding and skiing, but to win titles on two different types of equipment at the same Olympics. Known for her snowboarding prowess, the double World Champion was favoured to win the gold in the Parallel Giant Slalom and duly did so.
However, with a ranking of 49 in the Super-G Alpine Ski event and not having medalled in any international ski event previously, expectations were less ambitious. But her 21.11 second run was enough to sneak past defending champion Anna Veith from Austria by 0.01 seconds to stun the skiing world and win her second gold medal in her Olympic debut.
I quickly drew this montage and sent it to her when she returned to a hero’s welcome in her home town of Prague after the Olympics and it came back signed yesterday, along with an info card, also signed.
Nicknamed ‘The Scud’ because his serve was once regarded as one of the fastest in the game, resembling a scud missile, retired Australian tennis ace Mark Philippoussis returned to London’s Royal Albert Hall last week for this years final Champions Tour event.
While he didn’t win a Grand Slam, he did reach the final of the US Open, losing to compatriot Pat Rafter in 1998 and Wimbledon in 2003 where he was beaten by Roger Federer. He won 11 career titles and reached No. 8 in the world rankings in 1999. Mark was also instrumental in Australia winning the Davis Cup in that year and again in 2003, winning both deciding rubbers.
He signed my sketch at the RAH stage door last Thursday evening before his opening match with former No.1 Juan Carlos Ferrero.
English all rounder Dannielle Wyatt made history in Canberra last week as England achieved the highest successful run chase in the history of Women’s T20 Internationals to beat Australia and draw the Ashes series. Her brilliant century, off just 57 balls was the first by an English women in T20’s. It included 13 fours and two sixes, winning her the player-of-the-match award. Chasing an impressive 178 by the hosts, England were quickly in trouble at 30/3, but ‘devastating Danni’ and captain Heather Knight put on a 139-run fourth-wicket partnership to set up the win and earn a 2-1 victory in the T20 matches and an 8-all draw in the overall series.
Twenty-six year-old Danni has been with the England team for the past seven years since her March 2010 debut in Mumbai. She was part the World Cup-winning national squad which beat India in the Final at Lords earlier this year. Her domestic T20 team, the Southern Vipers also reached the final of the Kia Super League in September, in Hove where she signed this drawing for me.
Despite having to withdraw from the ATP World Tour Finals in London this week due to a knee injury, Rafael Nadal ended the year as the world’s No.1 men’s tennis player after a stellar 2017, including winning both the US Open and, for a record tenth time the French Open. ‘The King of Clay’ achieved ‘La Decima’ on the ‘dirt’ at Roland Garros, beating Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 in the final. He also added his 10th title on the clay at Monte Carlo and Barcelona for good measure.
To commemorate this feat (of clay) I did this ‘La Decima’ sketch and luckily got Rafa to sign it for me before he left the London’s O2 last week.
Bulgarian tennis star Grigor Dimitrov won the year-end ATP World Tours Final last night at the O2 arena in London, beating Belgian David Goffin in three sets, completing the tournament unbeaten.
At the beginning of his professional career the former Junior World No. 1 was dubbed ‘Baby Fed’ because of his stylish play and on court talent, similar to the Swiss mystro Roger Federer. Known for his exceptional shot-making and athleticism, he now moves from No. 6 to the world’s No. 3, behind Rafa Nadal and Fed, having started the year at 17th. He collected three other tour titles this year – Brisbane, Sofia and his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati.
Grigor signed my sketch last Sunday at the O2.
Continuing my week of drawing from the ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2 Arena is the young Austrian tennis star and world No.4 Dominic Thiem who faces David Goffin today in a sudden death match to decide who goes through to the semi-finals. This is the second consecutive year that Dominic has reached the Tour Finals, having made the semi final at Roland Garros and the fourth round of the three other Grand Slams. Winner of eight ATP singles titles, he is known for his aggressive base line play and great defence and is one of the few younger players to use a single-handed backhand.
He signed my sketch last Sunday at the O2.
The diminutive (by tennis standards) Belgian David Goffin secured the biggest win of his career beating the current world No.1 Rafael Nadal in his opening match at this year’s ATP Tour Finals at London’s O2 on Monday. Rafa was hampered by a reoccurring knee injury which forced him to withdraw from the year-ending tournament after the three-set loss. David, who is currently ranked No. 8 in the world has won four titles and his win over Rafa continues a string of victories over higher-ranked players, including Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka. He signed my sketch at the O2 on Sunday before his practice session.
Former world No.1 tennis player Juan Carlos Ferrero has been coaching Germany’s rising star Alexander Zverev since July this year and both are currently in London for the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 arena. The Spaniard reached the top ranking in September 2003 after winning Roland Garros and runner-up at the US Open. Nicknamed ‘El Masquito’ because of his speed and small build, Juan Carlos was also part of three winning Davis Cup campaigns for Spain. He signed my sketch at the O2 on Saturday.