October 11, 2013
It’s the stuff almost every Hollywood sport film is made of.
After a long struggle toward victory, the challenger finds themself injured, nearly beaten, out of contention.
But then, almost miraculously, they find the strength to reach their way back to the top.
Cue epic music, slow-mo camerawork, maybe even our movie’s winner being embraced by a long-lost father or pet dog perhaps.
It may be the stuff of cinema, but this summer it really did happen…
…apart from the long-lost father and dog thing.
Rafael Nadal’s return from injury to reclaim the Number 1 spot and the victory of Oracle Team USA in the America’s Cup, will surely both go down as two of the most remarkable sport comebacks for years.
This time last year, Andy Murray, having won his first Grand Slam at the US Open, was the new force to be reckoned with in world tennis.
Rafa, suffering from a knee injury with no return date in sight, watched from home.
Many were asking whether Nadal, once such a threat regardless of the surface he was playing on, could ever reach the top again.
His absence would last six months.
But since returning after the Australian Open in January, he has never looked back. He has now won 10 titles, including the French and US Open, in 2013 alone.
The Oracle Team America’s Cup comeback may have taken less time than Rafa’s, but it is just as stunning.
Fought between Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA, a sense of controversy overshadowed the start of the race following Oracle’s being docked two points in a preceding race series.
And just four days in to the prestigious sailing regatta, things had not started to look better for Oracle.
Their competition, Team New Zealand, was already within touching distance of overall victory having amassed a 6-0 lead.
And in this competition, it’s the first team to nine that wins.
Newly-led by Olympic sailing legend Ben Ainslie, however, a resurgent Oracle Team fought back and, by the final race, had drawn level with Team New Zealand with 8 points each.
For only the third time in the competition’s history, it was a winner-takes-all final…
… and Oracle Team USA duly completed their comeback.
Lasting 15 days and 19 races, it was the longest ever America’s Cup.
In the end, it was won by a margin of 44 seconds on the final day.