The greatest chokes of all time

KEVIN NORQUAY
Last updated 15:18 23/09/2013
George Gregan
PUBLIC ENEMY: George Gregan's infamous taunts during the 2003 World Cup semi-final are hard to forget.

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Ahem, ahem. With Oracle clawing back to 5-8 after Team New Zealand has spent nearly a week on the precipice of victory, it could be time to mention the C word ... yes, choke.

From the All Blacks at the World Cup, to Spinning Rhombus rearranging the jumps at the Barcelona Olympic Games, and a string of cricket matches, history is littered with Kiwi chokes,

Could Team New Zealand be about to join this Sports Hall of Infamy?

Rugby, All Blacks, World Cup: take your pick; outplayed in the semis by France in 1999; getting taunted with "four more years" by George Gregan as Australia dumped them in 2003; not even making the semis in 2007, the world's No 1 side consistently froze at the World Cup, losing when they should have won.

Golf, Jean Van De Velde, 1999 British Open: Choked? He might have drowned. Needing only a double-bogey six on the 18th hole, he had a triple-bogey, at one point splashing down in a water hazard and rolling up his trousers, to contemplate playing it from there. He then lost in a four-hole playoff to Paul Lawrie, who started the day 10 strokes behind.

Football, Bayern Munich, 1999 Champions League final: Up 1-0 with time up, the German powerhouselost 1-2 to Manchester United, with Teddy Sheringham scoring in the 91st minute, then Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the 94th.

Golf, Greg Norman, 1996 Masters: In brilliant form, the Great White Shark takes a six-stroke lead into the final round. He goes bogey, bogey, bogey, double-bogey from nine to 12. And loses to Nick Faldo by five strokes.

Tennis, Bill Tilden, 1927 Wimbledon: Up 6-2, 6-4, 5-1 (30-0) against Frenchman Henri Cochet in the semifinals, Tilden can not apply the coup de grace, Cochet wins 2-6 4-6 7-5 6-4 6-3.

Cricket, Australia, Headingley 1981: Australia were on the verge of wrapping up an easy win within four days and 2-0 up in the Ashes when Ian Botham arrived at the crease. He smashed 149 to make Australia bat again, then Bob Willis took 8-43 to get England home by 18 runs. It was just the second time the side following-on had won.

Rugby league, Don Fox, 1968 Challenge Cup final: Fox missed a conversion in front of the posts that would have won Wakefield Trinity the Cup. Fox fell to his knees and held his head in his hands, as the final whistle blew and Leeds won 11-10.

American Football, Houston Oilers, 1992: The worst single-game collapse in NFL history. Houston led 35-3 early in the third quarter, but Buffalo's Steve Christie landed a 30m field goal three minutes into extra time for Buffalo - noted chokers themselves - to win 41-38.

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Equestrian, Spinning Rhombus, 1992 Olympic Games, Barcelona: Can horses choke? With the New Zealand team having seven rails in hand to win the gold medal Spinning Rhombus has no trouble managing that, to drop New Zealand to silver behind Australia, and 16th in the individual event.

Yachting, Dennis Conner, 1983 America's Cup on Rhode Island Sound, New York: Up 3-1 "Mr America's Cup" Conner somehow loses 3-4 to Australia with its famous winged keel. The cup leaves the US for the first time in 132 years. "We Keeled Them" the Australian headlines scream.

Cricket, New Zealand, Manchester 2008: With Ross Taylor scoring 154 not out and Daniel Vettori grabbing 5-66 New Zealand lead by 179 on the first innings. What could possibly go wrong? Pretty much everything, NZ were all out for 114 in their second dig. England romped home with 294-4.

- Stuff

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