If you have a bad day at the competition, do not worry – even pros have terrible days! We’ve put together a few sports stories that show that everyone can have a rough day, from fencers to golfers.
1. Master golfer struggles with a 1-foot putt
Take a look at the pro golfer who did not succeed to put a golf ball into a home from 1 foot for 6(!) times: This is 46 year old professional South African golfer Ernie Els, at the Masters golf tournament in Georgia. The Augusta golf tournament is one of the biggest in the world, and this is a man who knows his way around the golf ball. But this day was just not his day, and it’s hard to watch him try again, and again, and again to sink this shot that should have been super easy. At least he’ll go in the record books, though he’d probably rather people forget it.
If you’ve ever struggled to get a touch again and again but missed every time, then this feeling will be familiar!
2. Olympic fencer doesn’t miss a call
In the 2016 Olympic qualifying rounds, French fencer Enzo Lefort was competing against German Peter Joppich in men’s individual foil, a close match with each man going point for point. Apparently, Enzo was a bit worried about missing important calls or texts from his friends and family, because he kept his phone in the back pocket of his fencing knickers! The phone was clearly visible to the crowd gathered to watch the match. During each lunge, it inched further and further up towards the top of his pocket.
Finally, when Joppich lunged forward, Lefort leapt to try to get out of the way but stumbled and his phone finally jumped out of his pocket and skidded across the strip! Though Enzo quickly picked it back up and handed to a man in the crowd, it was a bit too late as he’d lost the point and his mojo in the match. He struggled for the remainder of the match and lost to Joppich 13-15.
Of course, there’s a great fencing lesson here – you don’t need your phone with you everywhere! Especially not in the Olympics.
On the very much brighter side, he did go on to win Silver with the French men’s foil team in Rio.
3. Professional tennis player throws tantrum, lose match
Tennis star Joe McEnroe was famous for his hot head, but never was it hotter than the day that it cost him the French Open in 1984.
This was a tennis player at the top of the world. He hadn’t lost a match all year in the leadup to this final against Ivan Lendi. The first two sets of the match saw him obliterate his opponent easily. However the score came up to a tie 1-1 in the third set. McEnroe immediately blamed a noise from the headset of a cameraman off to the side. During a break, the tennis superstar walked over to the man and screamed at him about the noise. It was enough to completely break McEnroe’s concentration, and he blew the rest of the match.
Later on, McEnroe is quoted has having said the following: “We all choke. Winners know how to handle choking better than losers.” Sage advice we could all do well to follow.
4. Pants make sports harder
In 2013, golfer Andreas Harto found himself in a tough spot – he’d shot his ball into the water just before the green on the 14th hole in Morocco. To combat this frustrating situation and save his day, Harto decided the best course of action was to remove his shoes, socks, and pants before trying to hit the ball out of the water. Whatever the reason, it worked and he turned a tough situation into a good one as he nailed the shot. Way to make lemonade out of lemons!
5. Hurdler falls, then finishes in Olympic qualifier
This story took the internet by storm in August of 2016 during the Rio Olympic Games. Haitian runner Jeffrey Julmis had high hopes for qualifying for the final in the 110m hurdles. An accomplished racer, this 29 year old was poised to do well in his signature event. However even all of the practice that he’d committed to in the lead up to the games wasn’t enough to guarantee anything, and he stumbled on the very first hurdle, crushing his Olympic dream.
Most people would have given up at this point, but what’s really inspiring here is that Jeffrey went on to finish the race and join his competitors at the finish line. Technically he was disqualified from the race (he stooped under the second hurdle after he fell on the first, which causes a disqualification in this sport). However by finishing the race be became rather a hero of the games. Though he struggled to meet his expectations, he still showed incredibly sportsmanlike behavior in finishing the race. His bad day makes us all feel a little better in part because it shows us that it’s possible to recover from a rough start, even if you still don’t win! What an inspiration!
Take heart, and try again!
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you practice, how much you train, or what the expected outcome is, the day just isn’t yours. That’s ok! It’s ok to lose sometimes! Part of the great thing about this sport is that you get to step up again and try next time. Learning to deal with that frustration and then figuring out how to get going again is a great lesson both for sports and for life.
If you’ve had a rough day at a fencing competition, take heart in knowing that this too shall pass. Then learn to look back on the day with a smile knowing that life goes on!