Hyslop: Sport's worst winners and losers

LIAM HYSLOP
Last updated 18:13 21/01/2014
Sergio Garcia
Reuters

NO DIVINE INTERVENTION: The sporting gods didn't like Sergio Garcia, he said.

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OPINION: Over the past two days the world has seen candidates for the sorest loser and worst winner in sport.

First Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman unleashed a post-game tirade against San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree in a poor show of sportsmanship.

Then Dutch speed skater Sjinkie Knegt showed his true colours as a sore loser, producing a middle-finger salute to a victorious opponent.

But what other sportspeople deserve a mention for their lack of class in victory and defeat? We cast an eye over some of the worst cases of poor sportsmanship.

SORE LOSERS:

Sjinkie Knegt, speed skater, 2014 European Championship

Sjinkie Knegt is hardly a household name to anyone apart from speed-skating enthusiasts. However, he has shot to infamy after he and his team-mate lost to Russia in the 5000-metre final. It was not the defeat which caused the controversy but Knegt's reaction, which involved both his middle fingers being pointed at Russian skater Victor Ahn as Knegt crossed the line behind the Russian. The gesture led to Knegt being disqualified. 

Sergio Garcia, golf, serial sore loser

To this day Sergio Garcia maintains the tag of "best player never to win a major".

In 2007, after blowing a three-shot final-round lead to lose in a playoff at the Open Championship he blamed the golfing gods. Among his gripes that day were his ball hitting the flag and bouncing further away from the pin than other players' balls normally would, and bunker-rakers taking too long to manicure two sandtraps ahead of him on the 18th hole when he needed to make par.

At the 2013 Masters he surrendered a first-round lead, hitting 76 in the second round, and said the wind was blowing only when he played his shots, and stopped when his playing partners hit theirs. A good sore loser never blames themselves.

1999 All Blacks, except Jonah Lomu, Rugby World Cup semifinal vs France

Every New Zealand rugby fan knows what happened during this game. The meltdown, the hurt, the 43-31 loss. But what few might realise is the lack of sportsmanship offered by the All Blacks after the loss. While the French were rather excessive in their celebrations, forming a circle and dancing with joy, it was only Jonah Lomu who stayed on the field to congratulate them on their success. The rest of the squad skulked off to the changing rooms, leaving French hands unshaken.

Detroit Pistons, basketball, 1991 NBA finals

With eight seconds to go in game four of the finals series against the Chicago Bulls many of the Detroit Pistons players walked off the court to the cheers of their adoring fans. Unfortunately for them, they had just been swept 4-0 by the Bulls and the cheers were the fans taking pleasure in the disrespect their players were showing for the Michael Jordan-led Bulls.

Harbhajan Singh, cricket, "Slapgate"

In 2008, Harbhajan Singh's Mumbai Indians were defeated by the Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League game. Punjab captain S. Sreesanth offered Singh his condolences, saying "hard luck" and offering a handshake. Singh replied by slapping Sreesanth with the back of his hand. Sreesanth left the field in tears and Singh was suspended for the remaining 11 games of the tournament. Asked why he did it, Singh said, "I don't like losing."

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BAD WINNERS:

Richard Sherman, American Football, 2014 NFC Championship game


Richard Sherman is not known for his modesty so when he made the crucial tip on the final play of the game to help secure victory for the Seattle Seahawks over the San Francisco 49ers, sportsmanship was not his top priority. He gave a cheeky bum-slap to 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree, ran around making choking gestures and gave an explosive post-game interview.

Sherman screamed: "I'm the best corner in the game, when you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree that's the result you're gonna get."

Such class.

Muhammad Ali, boxing

Regarded by many as the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali was never backward in coming forward about his talents. He would taunt opponents before, during and after fights, saying they shouldn't even be in the same ring as him. Before him trash-talking opponents was unheard of but nowadays, in American sports anyway, it is commonplace.

Rhonda Rousey, UFC, 2013 women's bantamweight championship fight

Rousey had an intense rivalry with her opponent, Miesha Tate, leading into last December's fight. She had already broken Tate's arm once in a fight and the pair fell out during the filming of the Ultimate Fighter television show. So when Tate was defeated it was surprising that she offered Rousey her hand to shake in congratulations. Instead of shaking Tate's hand as a sign of good sportsmanship, Rousey took one glance, turned and walked away.

1999 United States Ryder Cup team, golf

In what was dubbed the Battle of Brookline. The Americans made at that time the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history. They came back from 10-6 down to win 14.5 to 13.5, with Justin Leonard sinking a monster putt on the 17th green to secure victory. The entire American team, and some of their wives stormed the green to celebrate with Leonard.

Unfortunately, European Jose Maria Olazabal still had a putt to level the contest - and the Europeans were furious that his preparations had been disrupted. He missed that putt and European vice-captain Sam Torrance said of the celebrations: "It's about the most disgusting thing I've seen in my life".

Australian cricket team, 2013/14 Ashes (or anytime for that matter)

There is nothing worse than watching an arrogant Australian team demolish another cricket side but that is exactly what happened in the most recent Ashes whitewash. Jonathan Trott left the tour early on suffering mental issues but the Aussies said they would not let up in their onslaught. There was no single instance of blatant poor sportsmanship but the entire tour was bathed in Australian swagger and bullishness which was far from enjoyable to watch.

- Fairfax Media

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