A Selection Of The Greatest Sporting Achievements of All Time
Over the years there have been a huge number of remarkable achievements in a range of sports, both individual and team efforts. Here is a brief look at some of the more memorable moments from a range of sports.
Arsenal’s 2003/2004 Season
While Arsenal may not currently be having the best season, they have had plenty of standout seasons in the past. At the start of the 2002/3 season manager Arsene Wenger was ridiculed when he suggested that the team could go a whole season unbeaten. He was proved wrong that year, but the next season told a different story. He had put together a fantastic team that came to be known as “The Invincibles” after they survived the entire 2003/4 season without losing a match in the Premier League, drawing 12 and winning 26 on the way to completing a 49-match undefeated streak that was finally ended by Manchester United in October 2004.
Ronnie O’Sullivan’s Record Breaking 147
Ronnie O’Sullivan has been astounding snooker fans, and his fellow players, ever since he appeared on the circuit. He is known as “The Rocket” thanks to his amazing speed around the table. However, his most impressive feat may have been his first competitive maximum break at the 1997 World Championship. He cleared the table in just 5 minutes and 20 seconds, a record that has now held for over twenty years. He was almost sprinting around the table as he potted the balls, something made even more incredible by the fact that he wasn’t playing against the clock. He could have taken all the time he wanted, but clearly he just didn’t need much of it. The break involved left and right handed shots and he averaged nine seconds per shot. At the end of the break even his opponent, Mike Price, was grinning as he admired the amazing feat.
Roger Federer’s Twenty-Three Consecutive Grand Slam Semi-Finals
There is little dispute that Roger Federer is one of the greatest tennis players to have ever lived. Over the years he has won numerous titles and broken many records. However, perhaps his run of 23 consecutive grand slam semi-final appearances was most impressive. He has won a total of 97 titles (and counting) and it is his longevity that is truly astounding. Back in 2004 he reached the French Open semi-finals and then proceeded to reach every Grand Slam semi-final for the next six years until he lost to Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros. While Federer has slowed down a bit in recent years, back in 2010 when asked about Federer’s greatest achievements his great rival Rafael Nadal said, “If I have to say something, 23 semi-finals in a row at grand slams. Because it is five-six years, playing all four grand slams. You can have no injury, not one bad day, so it is amazing. Twenty three semi-finals in a row, in my opinion, it is impossible to do it another time.”
Manchester United’s Treble in 1999
Manchester United are one of the great teams of English football but back in the 1998/9 season everything seemed to go right for the team. Just winning a Premier League title takes an immense amount of skill but to become the first English team to win the domestic league and cup and the European Cup in the same season is a truly astounding feat. During that season United were undefeated from their Boxing Day fixture right until the end of the campaign in May 1999, a run of 33 matches in all competitions. It seemed inevitable that at some point the team would make a mistake and lose something and that point appeared to arrive in the FA Cup fourth round. Liverpool were leading from the third to the eighty-fifth minute before United gave an amazing demonstration of determination and resilience to win the match. In the semi-finals they needed a penalty save from Peter Schmeichel and an amazing goal from Ryan gigs to get past Arsenal, but they saved their most impressive performance for the Champions League final. Injury time saw goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to deny Bayern Munich the win and take home United’s first European cup since 1968.
Tiger Woods’ Tiger Slam in 2001
Tiger Woods is one of the greatest golfers of recent time, he has won 14 Majors, just four short of Jack Nicklaus. Furthermore, he is the only golfer in history to hold all four Majors at the same time. In 2000 Woods was at the top of his game. He began the year with his fifth consecutive victory and started a record-breaking season in which he won three consecutive Majors, nine PGA Tour events and setting or tying 27 Tour records. He went into the 65th Master Tournament at Augusta under a great deal of pressure having already won the other three Masters. At first it seemed as if the pressure was too much for him as he shot a two-under 70 to leave him lying in a six-way tie for fifteenth place after the first round. However, he soon turned things around and shot up the leaderboard into a tie for second place with an impressive six-under 66 on the second day. He then shot his second successive round in the 60s, a four-under 68, to take the 54-hole lead at 12-under-par. At that point his victory seemed inevitable and in the end he defeated David Duval by two strokes to complete what has become known as the ‘Tiger Slam’.
Red Rum’s Three Grand National Wins
Back in 1973, 1974 and 1977 Red Rum achieved an unmatched historic treble by winning the Grand National three times. Furthermore, not only did he win it three times, but for five years he finished either first or second. After he won consecutive Nationals he was beaten into second place by the Gold Cup winner L’Escargot in 1975. He then lost the following year, that time to Rag Trade, and many thought that his glory days were over. However, in 1977 when Red Rum was 12 years old, his trainer Ginger McCain knew that it was his final chance to make history. Tommy Stack was the jockey and he delivered the results leading Red Rum home for this third Grand National title.
Brian Lara’s 400 Runs Not Out
In the final Test in Antigua in 2004 Brian Lara was England’s worst nightmare. The Trinidadian left-hander become the first man to reclaim the world Test batting record. Ten years early Lara had broken the record on the same ground when he hit 375 against England. However, Matthew Hayden broke his record when he produced an incredible 380 against Zimbabwe in 2003. Unfortunately for Hayden, and England, Lara then reclaimed the record. Over the course of 582 deliveries, complete with 43 boundaries and four sixes, Lara hit the amazing figure of 400 before proceeding to declare. England had bowled over 200 overs as Lara finished unbeaten in West Indies’ massive 751-1. While England were dismissed for 285, the match ended in a draw, primarily because Lara’s innings took a total of 773 minutes to complete.
Phil Taylor’s Sixteen World Champion Titles
All fans of darts will be aware of Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, one of the most prolific individual sporting champions of all time. He dominated the sport for years during which he won a total of 216 professional tournaments, including 16 world titles (2 BDO and 14 PDC). Taylor only just retired from the sport after the 2018 PDC World Darts Championship where, despite entering the tournament ranked 6th in the PDC Order of Merit, he beat Chris Dobey, Justin Pipe, Keegan Brown, Gary Anderson and Jamie Lewis to reach the final on 1 January 2018, where he lost to first-time participant Rob Cross.
Sir Steve Redgrave’s Five Olympic Gold Medals
Sir Steve Redgrave announced his retirement in dramatic fashion declaring, “I hereby give permission to anybody who catches me in a boat again to shoot me.” However, just four months after winning gold in Atlanta, Britain’s rowing legend changed his mind and announced that he would be competing in Sydney 2000. Once there, together with Matthew Pinsent, Tim Foster and James Cracknell in the coxless fours, he beat Italy by less than half a second to win one of the most exciting races of all time. After that race Redgrave said, “Remember these six minutes for the rest of your lives. Listen to the crowd and take it all in. This is the stuff of dreams.” Redgrave is one of the very few people to have won a gold medal at five consecutive Olympic Games and easily the most successful male rower in Olympic history.