Friday, October 28, 2011

Top Moments of Sportsmanship

Contributed by Simon March.
Director, USA Sport Group.

In an increasingly competitive environment, it is easy to forget the backbone of any great athlete: sportsmanship.

Regardless of the type of sport, ability level of the player or level of competition, if the next generation of superstars could follow the example set by the athletes below, sport would be a much better place for it.

Golf: Adam Van Houten
Adam Van Houten, a student at Mount Gilead High School in central Ohio, had just won the state golf championship. It appeared he’d won by a comfortable seven-stroke margin, but Van Houten noticed a mistake on his scorecard. His playing partner had accidentally given him a five on the 10th hole instead of a six. Since Van Houten signed his scorecard before he’d even noticed the mistake, as per golf rules, he had two choices. He could ignore the mistake and win the state championship or report the mistake. He reported the violation to tournament officials and was disqualified from the competition.

Soccer: Paolo Di Canio
The Premier League game entered injury time with the score tied at one. Everton keeper Paul Gerrard went down with an injury, but West Ham played on. A cross found Paolo Di Canio, open net in front of him, Gerrard on the ground to his side. Instead of tapping into the empty goal, Di Canio picked up the ball and signaled the medical staff onto the field.

Tennis: Andy Roddick
Andy Roddick's act of sportsmanship in the 2005 Rome Masters was to act as the stimulus to his eventual demise. With a triple match point in the final set, his opponent Fernando Verdasco double-faulted and lost the match. That was until Roddick disputed the call and said the serve was in. Verdasco won the point and went on to turn the game around and win the match.

Softball: Central Washington University
Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University uncorked the best swing of her life, hitting her first home run which cleared the centre-field fence. But after she missed first base, Tucholsky turned and in doing so collapsed with a knee injury. She crawled back to first but could do no more. The umpire advised that she would be called out should her team-mates help her. Then, members of the Central Washington University team stunned spectators by carrying Tucholsky around the bases - and in doing so contributed to their own elimination from the tournament they were playing in.

Athletics: John Landy
John Landy's show of sportsmanship in the 1956 National Championships is lauded as one of the finest moments in Australia's rich sporting history. During the 1500 meter final, Landy stopped and doubled back to check on fellow runner Ron Clarke, who had fallen during the third lap of the race. Clarke was helped to his feet and rejoined the race, hotly pursued by Landy. Incredibly, in the final two laps, Landy made up a huge deficit and won the race in the final few metres.

Golf: Jack Nicklaus
In the final match of 1969 Ryder Cup, Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin were each facing putts for par. Nicklaus holed his four-footer, retrieved his ball from the cup and then, unexpectedly, lifted Jacklin's marker - lying 2ft from the hole - and extended his hand to the Englishman. "I don't believe you would've missed that," said Nicklaus, "but I'd never give you the opportunity under these circumstances." The tournament was halved for the only time in its history and the Americans retained the cup.


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