We often hear stories of victory, but what about those who came up short when it mattered most? Some of sport’s biggest names explain what it’s like to give everything for the win, but ultimately taste defeat.
Wayne Mardle: 2008 World Darts Championship
Wayne Mardle had done the tough bit: he'd beaten Phil Taylor. In a dramatic quarter-final, Hawaii 501 had overturned a 3-0 deficit to claim the biggest win of his career, and knock The Power out of the World Darts Championship before the final: something no one had managed in the 15-year history of the event. All that stood between Mardle and a shot at the sport's biggest prize on January 1st was Kirk Shepherd, a 21-year-old qualifier who'd enjoyed a remarkable run so far. The mismatch was enormous; there could only be one winner here. However, as Mardle realised over the course of an agonising evening on the oche, the game really isn’t played on paper, and you underestimate your opponent at your peril. Alongside Rod Studd, he recounts his 'One That Got Away'.
Mark James and Andrew Coltart: 1999 Ryder Cup
In 1999, Mark ‘Jesse’ James captained Team Europe in the 33rd Ryder Cup, selecting rookie Andrew Coltart as part of his Brookline-bound side. The first singles match teed off on the final day with the men in blue holding a commanding 10-6 lead, but the USA's Ben Crenshaw had assembled a formidable line-up, cheered on by a raucous home crowd. As Justin Leonard holed a miracle putt on the 17th, and supporters and teammates flooded the green, the fightback was all but complete: Europe would relinquish the Ryder Cup. Alongside Josh Antmann, James and Coltart dissect the events of that weekend.
Paula Radcliffe: 2004 Olympic Marathon
At the Athens Olympics, Paula Radcliffe isn't only the fastest competitor on the start-line of the women's marathon: she is the best women's marathon runner there has ever been, and by a matter of minutes. She finished 5th on the track in Atlanta, and 4th in Sydney, but has since moved to the roads with enormous success, and the gold medal has been all but hung around the world record holder's neck. But then, out on the hot and humid streets of Athens, the unthinkable happens: with just four miles remaining, Radcliffe stops, and collapses onto the pavement. Her Olympic dream, again, is in tatters. In the company of Claire Thomas, she reflects on where it all went wrong, and how - across a truly glittering career - an Olympic title remained so very elusive...
Matthew Elliott: 2000's 'Wide to West' try
It's one of the most iconic scores in Super League history: an epic try right at the death of St Helens versus Bradford in the play-offs, in which Chris Joynt dotted down after a dazzling, audacious play from the hosts, whose snatched win was accompanied by Eddie Hemmings' famous commentary: 'it's wide to West! It's wide to West!'. Matthew Elliott, Bradford coach that day, fell to the floor in horror, but is back on his feet and joined by Hemmings himself to discuss the encounter, his hugely successful time with the Bulls, and how - sometimes - you have to place your own disappointment to one side and applaud a magical sporting moment...
Steph Houghton: 2015 World Cup Semi-Final
The Lionesses have already made history by getting this far - by reaching the semi-finals of the 2015 Women's World Cup. They have beaten the hosts, Canada, and support back home has rocketed: all eyes are on Steph Houghton's side as they take on reigning champions Japan in the last four. With the scores level at the 90-minute mark, but England creating far more chances than their opponents, extra time beckons, and so too does becoming the first English football team to reach a World Cup Final since 1966. Cue a shocking, heart-breaking injury-time own goal from defensive stalwart Laura Bassett, and a devastating loss for the eventual bronze medallists. In the company of Caroline Barker, Houghton reflects on an agonising turn of events...
Brad Barritt: 2007 Super 14 Final
There are moments left on the clock, and the Sharks are six points ahead of the Bulls in the 2007 Super 14 final. More than 50,000 have assembled at Kings Park in Durban for the occasion, which will result in the competition's first ever South African champions, and the hosts look like they might just hold on to win. All they need to do is kick the ball out of play.... Cue Bryan Habana, with a trademark moment of magic. The try is converted. The trophy is lost. In the company of Rupert Cox, Brad Barritt – who started at centre that day for the Sharks, and has since represented England and captained Saracens – relives a truly dramatic fixture.