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5 sporting myths decoded

Aniket Mishra
EXPERT COLUMNIST
Top 5 / Top 10
28.23K   //    30 Aug 2015, 22:45 IST

Sport tends to provide us with legends, stories and personalities alike, which we adore and adulate. Over the years, though, we have developed this habit of over rating the past – where we tend to recollect with much passion and gusto sporting achievements that we were a witness to; Some of these tend to be not factually accurate. As overwhelming as the narrative becomes, it’s perhaps unfair to be presented with twisted and at times false pieces of information.Upon introspection thus, we came across several reputed and widely recognized sporting myths and decided to debunk them.Here’s the best of the lot:

#1 Steve Waugh\'s barb at Herschelle Gibbs

Herschelle Gibbs Steve Waugh 1999 world cup
Herschelle Gibbs (L) dropped Steve Waugh in the 1999 World Cup

Chasing 272 to win in their crucial Super Sixes match against South Africa in the 1999 World Cup, captain Steve Waugh was waging a lone battle. Albeit on 56, it all seemed likely to end as he offered a simple chance to Herschelle Gibbs at mid-wicket. Gibbs caught it, but in his haste to throw it up in celebration, dropped the ball. He went on to score 120 and the Aussies won with two deliveries to spare.

The media consequently ran a story the next day of how Waugh said, “You've just dropped the World Cup” to Gibbs. It almost provided the world with a perfect catchphrase. The only problem with the whole incident, though, is that Waugh never uttered those words!

“I never heard him say that,” asserted Gibbs in a press conference almost a decade later.

Waugh cannot quite recall exactly what came out either. In his book Out of My Comfort Zone he recalls it as “I hope you realise that you have just lost the game for your team,” but in a TV interview given a few years later it became “You realise you've just cost South Africa the match?”

Either way, it was a drab, more mundane version than what was attributed to him.

“It's amazing how things get written and turned around,” said Waugh later in an interview. “It's funny how people start believing in these things, I don't know how it got out in the press that I said that.”

#2 Dhyan Chand being India\'s most decorated Olympian

Dhyan Chand
Dhyan Chand

Perhaps the most celebrated athlete in the history of our country, the legendary Dhyan Chand represented India thrice at the Olympics (1928, 1932 and 1936) and rather, unsurprisingly, the team won gold on each of these three occasions.

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That tally, however, isn’t the best for an Indian Olympian, for two others, namely Udham Singh and Leslie Claudius won a silver medal in addition to 3 gold medals for the country in what was perhaps the golden age of Indian Hockey. While Singh represented the country from 1952 to 1964, 1960 was Claudius’ last medal winning expedition.

#3 Michael Jordan retiring due to gambling

Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan

Over the years, there has been widespread speculation that Michael Jordan’s abrupt retirement from NBA in September 1993 was actually an under-the-wraps suspension from the league for betting. With him being the league’s biggest star, it was suspected that intent was to have him do something else for a year (hence, his minor league baseball stint) and return the next season.

There is, however, little truth to the aforementioned though. Jordan actually retired from the NBA because of the sudden demise of his father. His indulgence in baseball was out of sheer interest and not an escape from the razzmatazz that the NBA provided.

#4 Milkha Singh holding the world record

Milkha Singh
Milkha Singh

Two popular myths surrounding the legendary Milkha Singh are that he once established a world record in the 400m and that he was leading in the final of the Rome Olympics till he decided to turn around and lost ground to eventually finish 4th.

Here is the video of the race where he narrowly missed out on the bronze medal:

The blockbuster biopic, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag tried to add to the credibility of the aforementioned claims. There is, however, little or no factual evidence to prove the same. While you can see in the video of that eventful race from Rome that he never really led, the official IAAF progression of the 400m world record also reads thus during his career:

TimeAthleteDate
45.9sHerb McKenley2nd July, 1948
45.4sLou Jones18th March, 1955
45.2sLou Jones30th June, 1956
44.9sOtis Davis6th September, 1960
44.9sAdolph Plummer25th May, 1963

#5 Wilt Chamberlain sleeping with 20,000 different women

Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain

One of the most prolific basketball players of all time, Chamberlain scored 31,419 points, including the astonishing instance when he actually tallied 100 points in one game. In addition to the above, he also authored several books, none of which created as much hoopla as the 1991 publication, A View From Above, in which, he boasted of having slept with 20,000 different women in his life.

Quite the claim, further ‘research’ into the subject revealed that it was indeed an exaggerated number and while he was quite the womanizer, he didn’t actually bed roughly 2 women every single day for more than 30 years!

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