It’s been an incredible start to the century. Here are five of the most miraculous sporting comebacks that involve a little bit of luck, a dose of inspiration and heap of determination.
Team USA – America’s Cup 2013
The America’s Cup, first held in 1851, is commonly known as the ‘Auld Mug’. The race consists of two sailing yachts and is typically held every 3 to 5 years. There’s no governing body, organisation or commission for the competition. Where and when the next race takes place is dictated only by the reigning champion. The fastest of the two boats wins the round, with the overall competition being a ‘first-to-nine’ format.
September 25, 2013 saw Oracle Team USA pull off a minor miracle to overturn an 8-1 deficit and claim victory in the first-to-nine series. With the Kiwi’s needing just one more victory to secure the Auld Mug, the Americans called in Ben Ainslie from the reserve boat, a move that proved instrumental in the comeback that saw Oracle Team USA take back to back wins to defend the cup and triumphantly overcome New Zealand.
Europe vs USA – Ryder Cup, Medinah 2012
The 39th Ryder Cup, held at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois, saw one of the most extraordinary comebacks in golfing history. The biannual men’s golf competition between Europe and the United States involves a dozen members from each team and alternates between courses in the USA and Europe.
The European team appeared to be defeated coming into the final day, trailing 10-4 to team USA. The USA, only needing a handful of points to secure victory, looked very much in charge with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in fine form. The visitors, unfazed by the challenge that lay ahead, somehow won 8 of the 12 matches to retain the Ryder Cup by 14½ points to 13½ to stun the hosts.
Liverpool FC vs AC Milan – UEFA Champions League Final 2005
It’s 2005, the score is 3-0 to AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League Final, and the time on the clock shows 54 minutes gone. Liverpool is losing 3-0 to the impressive Italian side which featured the likes of Kaka, Cafu, and Pirlo to name but a few. With 36 minutes remaining the Milan celebrations were naturally in full swing. Some tactical changes by Rafa Benitez saw the Liverpool side silence the Milan supporters with 3 goals in 6 minutes to turn their fortunes around. Holding out through to the penalty shootout stages, Liverpool went on to win 3-2, lift the trophy, and become five-time champions of Europe – a feat achieved by no other English side in history.
Stephen Bradbury – Salt Lake Winter Olympics 2002
When your name becomes part of the Australian vernacular, you know you’ve done something extraordinary. Australia, better known for producing summer sport athletes rather than winter ones, took centre stage at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002 with Steven Bradbury claiming gold in the 1000m speed skating final. With half a lap to go, Bradbury sat 20 meters behind the competition. In an unlikely series of events, an accidental collision caused all four racers ahead of Bradbury to fall leaving the Australian speed skater free to cross the line and become the first Australian to claim a gold medal at the Winter Olympics. It is from this miracle the term ‘to do a Bradbury’ was born.
Jenson Button – Canadian Grand Prix 2011
Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong for Jenson Button at the start of the Canadian Grand Prix in 2001. The Briton crashed with his fellow countryman Lewis Hamilton and collided with Fernando Alonso among some rain storm-induced carnage. The shambles resulted in a puncture, a broken front wing and a total of 5 pit stops. Button was now 21st place…hard last on the track.
The driving display that followed is considered one of the best that modern Formula 1 has ever seen. Extraordinary overtaking skills meant he worked his way through the pack up to 4th place. Coming into the final lap, Schumacher and Webber were all that stood between him and a first place Vettel.
Button made quick work of overtaking them and was hot on the heels of Vettel with just 0.9 seconds between them. Button, putting the pressure on Vettel leading into turn 6 of the final lap, encouraged him to make a rare mistake by running wide on the turn while checking his mirrors. Button seized the opportunity and overtook him in spectacular fashion to secure one of his greatest ever career wins in the sport’s history.