It’s been an incredible week of upsets against the odds and great victories by great sports people.
Top of the list are a tennis player who had only won $US300 on the pro circuit all year and Iceland, a country of only 330,000 people, beating England – population 54 million and the homer of soccer – at the European championships.
First, enter centre stage part-time tennis coach and British world 772 ranked Marcus Willis, who defied the odds to quality for Wimbledon then staggeringly beat Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis who was ranked 718 places above him. He lost his second round match to his hero Roger Federer but picked up a cheque for $NZ95,000 for his upsetting efforts. Also of note, Kiwi Marina Erakovic upset former world No.1 Jelena Jankovic to reach the third round at Wimbledon. Erakovic, ranked 153rd in the world, only made the main draw at Wimbledon after winning three qualifying matches. It’s the third time she has made it to the last 32 at SW19.
Next up, enter Iceland – the first time it had ever qualified for the European championship, or any major soccer tournament. Its 2-1 win over England ranks as one of the biggest sporting upsets of the century. The smallest nation at the tournament overcame an England team whose captain Wayne Rooney earns about $nz500,000 a week. The Iceland victory will rank as one of the greatest sporting achievements of 2016.
Two New Zealanders achieved dizzy heights on the world stage this week – one not surprisingly, the other a real nobody, until this week. Teenage golfer Lydia Ko won the NW Arkansas Championship at the Pinnacle Country Club for her third LPGA Tour victory of the year. The three-stroke victory was her 13th since first winning an event as a 15-year-old amateur in 2012. Out of nowhere, Kiwi powerlifter Tui Katene, of Te Atiawa and Ngāti Ruanui, climbed to number four in the world after taking bronze in the under 72kg masters class at the IPF event in Texas.
Last but not least, Australian referee Amy Perrett will become the first female in Super Rugby history to officiate when she runs the touch line in the Melbourne Rebels match against the Cape Town Stormers this weekend. She officiated in the women’s Rugby World Cup final last year and is one of two Australians who will referee in the Sevens at the Rio Olympics next month.