Sport’s Worst Chokers
Whilst everyone loves a winner, nobody loves a team that has a habit of coming within reach of a big title, only to capitulate at the last moment. Over the decades a number of different sporting codes and leagues have produced teams and individuals adept at ‘almost’ winning the biggest titles in international sport.
Ivan Lendl – Wimbledon
One of the greatest men’s singles players of the 1980s was also one of the greatest chokers in the history of the Wimbledon Open Championships. Though the French Open has tended to be the tournament that has ended the career grand slam ambitions of many a tennis champion, it was Wimbledon which confounded Lendl’s ambitions.
During a period in which he reigned supreme as world number one, Ivan Lendl proved himself unable to win a title at Wimbledon. The best he could achieve was two losing appearances in the finals, losing first to a young Boris Becker in 1986, and then to Pat Cash in 1987.
The All Blacks – The Rugby World Cup
New Zealand’s All Blacks is the most feared and revered team in international rugby. There’s only one small problem with the team renowned for performing the blood curdling Haka before each test match – they haven’t won the Rugby World Cup in two decades.
Even though the All Blacks dominate all teams that cross their path during international test campaigns, they have proven unable to go the distance in the World Cup since winning the inaugural tournament in 1987.
During the ensuing decades the All Blacks have come unstuck in the semifinals three times, reached one final, and achieved their worst ever showing at the 2007 World Cup, when they were eliminated in the quarterfinals by France.
Benfica – The Champions League
The Portuguese club, Benfica, was one of the giants of European football during the early 1960s, when it became one of only a handful of clubs to win two consecutive European Cup finals. Since those heydays, the club has developed a slight problem in the finals department.
After its Champions League wins in 1961 and 1962, Benfica reached the final on three more occasions during the 1960s, losing each time. This was followed by a long absence from the European Cup final before Benfica again had the opportunity to win the Cup in 1988 and 1990.
The club lost both matches, and now shares the record for the most losing appearances in European Cup finals with Italian club, Juventus.
Colin Montgomerie – The Majors
Colin Montgomerie is peerless when it comes to the ranks of golf’s biggest chokers. Recognised as one of the finest players of his generation, Monty couldn’t make his skills work in his best interests when it counted most.
During his career, Montgomerie finished second at the US Open Golf Championship on three occasions, had his heart broken by a second placed finish at the Open Championship in 2005, and finished as runner-up at the 1995 US PGA Championship. The best he managed in the US Masters was an eighth place tie, achieved in 1998.
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