On This Day: 1998 - Mighty Mika brings it home for McLaren

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Flying Finn: Hakkinen.

On this day 18 years ago, Finland’s Mika Hakkinen enjoyed a flag-to-flag victory at the Japanese Grand Prix to clinch the 1998 Formula One world championship title.

It was McLaren’s first drivers’ championship in seven years. Hakkinen secured the title with a 14-point margin over Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher, who had to start from the back of the grid and then suffered a 165mph blow-out when he ran over debris from an earlier crash that dumped him out of the action at Suzuka in the 32nd lap.

“When Michael was forced to start from the back of the grid it raised an enormous amount of pressure on me,” Hakkinen said afterwards. “I don’t know how to start explaining my feelings.”

More memorable events on this day:

1946: The New York Knickerbockers (now Knicks) beat the Huskies 68-66 at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto in what was the first-ever NBA game.

1987: The New York Jets retired the #13 jersey of Don Maynard, who played as a wide receiver for the team from 1960 to 1972.

2015: Roger Federer ended a three-and-a-half year drought against Rafael Nadal by defeating him 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 to claim a seventh Basel title.

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Happy Birthday: Laxman, Gary Player, Mark Hughes

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(Clockwise): Gary Player, Mark Hughes and VVS Laxman.

Known for his historic knock of 281 against Australia in 2001, the career of VVS Laxman, who turns 42 today, signifies a lot more than that.

Considered one of the best batsmen India has ever produced in Test cricket, Laxman was a member of the ‘Great Indian Batting Quartet’ along with Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, who took Indian batting to great heights in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Considered an underachiever until his life changed forever in March 2001 with a magnificent 281 in Kolkata when India looked set to go 0-2 down to Australia. It was at that time the highest Test score by an Indian.

Lax repeatedly saved his best for the Aussies and became just the second Indian to score more than 2,000 runs against Australia in 2008. He announced his retirement in August 2012.

More sporting birthdays on this day:

1935: Gary Player, retired golfing legend, who won nine majors between 1961 and 1978 (81).

1963: Mark Hughes, Welsh former footballer, who is the current manager of Stoke City in the Premier League (53).

1988: Masahiro Tanaka, Japanese baseball player, who is a starting pitcher for the New York Yankees (28).

1991: Jiang Yuyuan, Chinese retired gymnast, who won Olympic team gold Beijing 2008 (25).

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On this day: All Blacks make history

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New Zealand’s dominance in rugby on the world stage resulted in a first on this day last year.

The All Blacks made history by becoming the first team to defend their Rugby World Cup title and the first to win for a third time as they beat Australia in the final at Twickenham.

After taking a 21-3 lead, New Zealand saw the Wallabies fight back to get within four points, but Dan Carter put over a crucial drop from 40 metres before slotting home a penalty kick to put the score out of reach.

It was a fairytale finish for Carter, who played his final game for New Zealand, as did legend Richie McCaw, who became the first All Blacks captain to lift the World Cup on foreign soil.

More memorable events on this day:

1908: The fourth Olympic Games come to an end in London.

1987: India’s Chetan Sharma claims the first hat-trick in the Cricket World Cup with the dismissal of three New Zealand batsmen at Nagpur.

1999: Mika Hakkinen wins the 50th Formula One championship.

2007: Ronald Koeman leaves PSV Eindhoven to take over as manager of Valencia.

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