Quiz on sportspersons who died early

Joy Bhattacharjya | Updated on March 13, 2021

Gone too soon: Remembering Ayrton Senna   -  REUTERS/ PAULO WHITAKER

It’s the birth anniversary of Colombian footballer Andrés Escobar who was shot dead at the behest of a gangster who had lost money because of an own goal the player had conceded in the 1994 World Cup. This week’s quiz is on sportspersons we lost early.

Game over

1 Which South American club lost almost all its players when the aircraft carrying the team crashed as it approached the José María Córdova airport near Medellin, Colombia? The squad was scheduled to play against Atlético Nacional at the 2016 Copa Sudamericana final?

2 Manchester United lost the cream of their young and hugely successful team in an air crash in February 1958. Which team had they just beaten to advance to the semi-finals of the European Cup?

3 Which organisation was responsible for the Munich massacre of the 1972 Olympics where members of the Israeli team, who were taken hostage during the event, lost their lives in a shoot-out?

4 Raman Lamba, one of India’s leading cricketers, lost his life during a 1998 league match in Dhaka. Which top Bangladeshi team was he representing when he was hit by a powerful shot by batsman Mehrab Hossain while fielding at forward short leg?

5 In 1986, Len Bias, one of the top US college stars, lost his life to cocaine overdose shortly after being picked by a most legendary NBA franchise. Which team drafted him, just the second player to be chosen?

6 What specifically would you be doing if you traversed a landmark known as Green Boots — a body believed to be of Twesan Paljor, an Indian who died in 1996?

7 While playing which sport did Qutb-al-din Aibak and Sawai Man Singh II sustain critical injury? Even Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi had a fatal heart attack playing the same sport.

8 Roland Ratzenberger was an Austrian racing driver who died in a crash during a qualifier for the Formula ONE? Race in 1994. The news of his death was overshadowed by another disaster in the main event the next day. What happened that day?

9 Which baseball player, nicknamed the Iron Horse, played 2,130 consecutive games before voluntarily taking himself out of the line-up on May 2, 1939, and stunning the world with his admission of a life-threatening disease?

10 Lara Victoria van Ruijven was a Dutch sports star who won a bronze medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics and a gold medal at the World Championship in her event a year later. She was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in June 2020 and died the same year aged just 27. What was her event of choice?


1 Chapecoense from Brazil. Following the crash, their opponents, Colombian club Atletico Nacional, requested that Chapecoense be awarded the trophy, which was duly accepted by the organisers.

2 Red Star Belgrade.

3 Black September, a Palestinian group that named the operation after Iqrit and Biram, two Palestinian villages whose inhabitants had supposedly been expelled by Israeli forces.

4 Abahani Krira Chakra. They were playing against Mohammedan Sporting Club.

5 Boston Celtics. They retired his number, 30, the jersey he never ever got to wear.

6 Climbing Mount Everest. The body has never been recovered but is visible to climbers making the ascent from the north side.

7 Polo. Aibak fell from his horse in 1210, Singh was critically injured while playing in England in 1970, and the Nawab of Pataudi had a heart attack while playing in Delhi in 1952.

8 Ayrton Senna died after his car crashed while rounding the high-speed Tamburello corner on lap 7.

9 Lou Gehrig, who announced he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an incurable neuromuscular disorder.

10 Speed skating. She specialised in the 3,000-m speed skating event.

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Joy Bhattacharjya is a quizmaster;

Twitter: @joybhattacharj

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Published on March 13, 2021
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