Michelle Wie

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii in October, 1989, Michelle Wie West was the most celebrated golfer since Tiger Woods and, early in her career, looked likely to become a dominant force in the women’s game. In 2002, as a twelve-year-old amateur, she qualified for the Takefuji Classic at the Waikoloa Beach Resort in Waikoloa, Hawaii, making her, at the time, the youngest player to qualify for an LPGA event. The following season, Wie made the cut in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship and made the cut in the U.S. Women’s Open, making her the youngest player to do so on all three occasions.

Wie turned professional, to no little fanfare, a week before her sixteenth birthday in October, 2005, and reportedly received endorsements worth $10 million a year. Too young to join the LPGA Tour, she relied on sponsors’ exemptions and, controversially, continued to do so after she turned eighteen in October, 2007, rather than entering LPGA Q-School. However, Wie did enter LPGA Q-School in 2008, finishing seventh and thereby becoming eligible to play on the LPGA Tour, full-time, in 2009.


As professional, Wie won her first tournament, the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Guadalajara, Mexico in November, 2009, but thereafter her career did not take off in the way that might have been expected. The following August, she won the Canadian Women’s Open, in Winnipeg, Manitoba by three strokes, but did not win again until the Lotte Championship, in Kapolei, Hawaii, in April, 2014. Two months later, Wie won her first and, so far, only major championship, the U.S. Women’s Open, in Pinehurst, North Carolina by two strokes from Stacy Lewis. After a lengthy hiatus, she won her fifth LPGA event, the HSBC Women’s World Championship, in Sentosa, Singapore, in March, 2018.

Michael Ballack

Born in Görlitz, East Germany in September, 1976, former professional footballer Michael Ballack reportedly has no time for religion or superstition. Indeed, throughout his playing career, for club and country, he repeatedly requested to wear the supposedly unlucky number ’13’ shirt. He once said, ‘Other players don’t want it, but that’s why I want it.’

Superstitious or not, there is little doubt that Ballack could have, and probably should have, won far more honours than he actually did. A case in point was the 2001/02 season, during which his club side, Bayer Leverkusen – subsequently dubbed Bayer ‘Neverkusen’ – finished runners-up in the Bundesliga, the DFB-Pokal, or German Cup, and the UEFA Champions League. In the Bundesliga, Leverkusen lost two of their last three games, thereby surrendering a five-point lead at the top of the table and missing out, by a single point to Borussia Dortmund. Later in 2002, Ballack scored the winning goal for Germany against South Korea in the semi-final of the World Cup, but picked up booking and missed the final, which Germany lost 2-0 to Brazil.

Ballack subsequently joined Bayern Munich, with whom he completed the Bundesliga – DFB-Pokal double three times, in 2003, 2005 and 2006. However, his days as a ‘nearly man’ were not over. Having joined Chelsea on a free transfer in 2006, in 2007/08, Ballack once again won runners-up medals in the Premier League, UEFA Champions League and League Cup; in a strange coincidence, he also captained Germany to the final of Euro 2008, where they lost 1-0 to Spain.

Nigel Mansell

Of course, Nigel Mansell won the Formula One Drivers’ Championship in 1992. Indeed, that season he won a then record nine races, including the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, to become the most successful British driver in Formula One history. Thirty years later, Mansell remains second-best, statistically, behind only Lewis Hamilton. However, in his earlier years, Mansell earned a reputation as a talented, hard charging, but luckless, driver, prone to taking one risk too many.

During his fourth and final year with Team Lotus, in 1984, Mansell led the Monaco Grand Prix, held in heavy rain, only to spin off during the fifteenth lap, damaging his car and causing his retirement from the race. At that point, team boss Peter Warr said, ‘He’ll never win a Grand Prix as long as I have a hole in my arse’. Unsurprisingly, Mansell left Lotus for Williams in 1985 and defied expectation by winning the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch in October that year.

In 1986, Mansell emerged as a bona fide contender for the Drivers’ Championship, winning five times and needing to finish no worse than third in the final race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide, to clinch the title. However, with 19 of the 82 laps remaining, Mansell suffered a spectacular blowout when on course for third place, forcing his retirement and handing the title, narrowly, to Alain Prost.

In 1987, Mansell won six times, but ultimately lost out to team-mate Nelson Piquet in the Drivers’ Championship after a series of mishaps. A lost wheel nut in the latter stages of the Hungarian Grand Prix forced his retirement and, later in the season, a serious accident in practice for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka exacerbated an old back injury, ruling Mansell out of that race and the final Australian Grand Prix at Adelaide.

John Regis

Born in London Borough of Lewisham in 1966, John Regis was a specialist 200-metre sprinter who won individual gold medals at that distance at the 1989 World Indoor Championships in Budapest, Hungary and the 1990 European Championships in Split, Croatia. He also won a team gold medal in the 4 x 400 metres relay at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo, Japan.

On the global stage, Regis recorded his arguably his best individual performance at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. In his qualifying heat, Regis finished second to Frenchman Jean-Charles Trouabal in a time of 20.67 seconds, in his quarter-final he finished second to American Carl Lewis in a time of 20.39 seconds and in his semi-final he finished third to another American, Michael Marsh, and the eventual gold medallist, Namibian Frankie Fredericks, in a time of 20.16 seconds.

In the final, on August 20, 1993, Regis beat Trouabal, Marsh and Lewis and set a new British record, 19.94 seconds, as he finished in silver medal position behind Fredericks. Nearly a year later, on July 31, 1994, he lowered his own British record, setting a mark of 19.87 seconds in the rarified air of Sestriere, Italy, which still stands.

However, for years after he was forced to retire from athletics, due to a hamstring injury, in July, 2000, Regis was reportedly haunted by his execution of the Stuttgart race. Reflecting on his performance, he said,’Second is first loser. You always want to win and you train to win’, adding, ‘The public appreciate what they perceive as great performances. But what, in their eyes, may be a great performance you know to be only a reasonable one.’