Marc Márquez has one hand on the MotoGP trophy. There’s only one person who can stop him now… himself!
PTT Thailand Grand Prix MotoGP™, Sunday 6 October, 7.30am, BT Sport 2 HD (CH 528)
Marc Márquez is flying. Not literally – although he’s so far ahead of the pack in this year’s MotoGP championship you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s had an unfair advantage.
Márquez heads into the Thailand Grand Prix with the trophy pretty much in his hands. Looks like it’s heading back to Spain again. Unless, of course, he pulls off one of the most spectacular chokes in sporting history.
But that’s exactly what we love about sport – anything is possible. If Márquez does bottle the title, he’ll be in good, if unwanted, company. Across sports, legends of their respective games are often remembered for those moments when an all-but-certain victory suddenly became a devastating defeat.
Here are five lessons (and real-life sporting examples) Márquez should heed to avoid joining them.
Don’t doubt yourself
As learned by: England (1990s penalty shootouts)
We’re not sure if you’ve heard, but the England football team doesn’t exactly have a great history with penalty shootouts. During the 90s they were knocked out of three major tournaments on pens, and the wounds still sting today. Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle at Italia 90, Gareth Southgate on home soil at Euro 96 (at least he’s redeeming himself), Paul Ince and David Batty against Argentina at France 98… these are all moments that have gone down in English football infamy, and all because little seeds of doubt crept into these players’ minds as they stepped up. Confidence is key.
Don’t get complacent
As learned by: Greg Norman (Masters, 1996)
Greg Norman stormed to a magnificent course-record 63 on the opening day of the 1996 Masters, and he went into the final day with a comfortable six-shot lead. Anything but an enormous choke and the green jacket would be his. If you’ve read this far, you can probably guess what happened next. Norman shot a hideous 78 while Nick Faldo glittered his way around the course and finished a whopping five shots ahead of the Great White Shark.
Don’t let the moment get to you
As learned by: Jana Novotná (v Steffi Graf, 1993)
Novotná held a 6-7 6-4 6-1 lead over the great Steffi Graf in the 1993 Wimbledon final and was 40-30 up in the sixth game. The title was as good as hers. She proceeded to serve a double fault, which triggered a monumental collapse. Graf roared back to win the final set 6-4 in a little over ten minutes. Thankfully for Novotná, she made up for her error, winning the title five years later.
Keep your rhythm
As learned by: Peter Wright (v Michael van Gerwen, 2017)
When you get a sniff of beating Michael van Gerwen, you better take that chance. Peter Wright had more than a sniff in the final of the 2017 Premier League Darts tournament. He had six darts with which to hit the double, and after missing the first two, stepped away from the oche to recompose himself. It only made things worse. Wright missed the next four too, and van Gerwen walked away with the £250,000 prize money.
Don’t lose your cool
As learned by: Kevin Keegan (1996)
Newcastle had led the Premier League by 12 points before falling off in the back half of the season and allowing Manchester United to creep ahead. Ahead of a vital game against Nottingham Forest, Toon manager Kevin Keegan fell for some classic Fergie mind games and launched into his famous “I will love it if we beat them!” rant. Keegan lost his cool, Newcastle faltered against Forest and United won the title.
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