Written by R. Jibus
Last Sunday April 10th was a day for sports with the possibilities of records and immortality being made in 2 different sporting events. In cycling we had the famous one day race in France, Paris-Roubaix (Hell of the North) the single most grueling one day classic race going thru Northern France over sections of historic cobble stones. The second sporting event was the Masters golf tournament in Augusta Georgia. It’s golf first of four majors for the year and the quest to win the green jacket and have the lifetime exemption to play in the event.
Every rider dreams of winning Paris-Roubaix and only 2 riders ever achieved winning the race 4 times. Tom Boonen winning his 4th title in 2012 with an impressive solo rider to the finish line with a minute over second place rider. Ever since 2012 win Boonen has been plagued with injury and poor form in past recent years, but this year he seemed ready for a record 5th win. After riding with the lead chase group to catch the leaders and then secure a position going to the finish line, Boonen seemed poised to win again. As they came into the famed Velodrome in for the finish line, Boonen who is regarded as a great sprinter was in the lead position. Worst position to be in when making your move for a sprint. Boonen lost right at the line to finished 2nd and with that defeat history wasn’t made for cycling as to be the first 5-time winner of Paris-Roubaix.
For the Masters Jordan Spieth quest to win the green jacket for the second year in a row seem like a sure bet this year. He was trying to be the first defending champion since Tiger Woods to successfully defend his title. He was leading the tournament the first 3 days and going into Sunday’s final round being the leader seemed like he had it wrapped up. He was also chasing history and setting a record for being the youngest back-to-back winner of the Masters at 22 years old. Spieth came to the 12th hole of the Masters leading by 5 strokes. As he tee’d up for shot, for some odd reason he didn’t hit his ball right and it landed in the water. Spieth then proceeded to the drop area and tried to hit the ball close to the pin to secure at least a bogey and only lose 1 stroke. Fate would have it he hit his ball fat and landed his 2nd ball in the water. With that mental error and making a quadruple bogey Spieth lost the chance to defend his Master’s title and losing the tournament in 30 minutes. Spieth would come in 2nd place though and he by far has the best record for competing in the Masters. In 3 starts he has a 2nd, 1st and 2nd, that’s an impressive record for someone who’s only 22.
What we saw last Sunday was two great champions at their best in their respective sports only to come up empty handed in the end. Tom Boonen has a couple more years left to try to win Paris-Roubaix and make history. But at 35 years old, father time waits for no one. This could have very well been his last chance to win Paris-Roubaix. Jordan Spieth at 22 has plenty of time to make his mark in the sport and who knows probably even surpass Jack Nicklaus record of 18 major wins. Tiger Woods has 14 major wins and with injury plaguing him lately, there is a new era for golf emerging. But what was more exciting about their losses was how they both were able to gracefully handle defeat. That’s what’s important and good to show the people who look up to them that it is ok to lose. Lose and handle it with class and show the world that life goes on, it will sting, but you learn from your defeat and come back stronger and better next year. That’s what makes great champions!