LASSE VIREN PICKS HIMSELF UP
Finnish runner Lasse Viren set a world record in the 10,000 meters at the 1972 Olympics. He fell during the race's 12th lap. That's right — Viren spent part of his world-record, gold-medal winning run flat on his back. Not too long, though. He popped back to his feet, reeled in the pack ahead of him and, after several lead changes, he won a sprint to the finish. As a capper, he won gold in the 5,000 meters 10 days later. He did the same double in Montreal four years later.
RED BIRDS RULE
Some thought the St. Louis Cardinals didn't even belong in the playoffs last season — after all, they sneaked in as a wild card on the last day of the regular season. But the Cardinals won the National League pennant and trailed Texas 7-5 in Game 6 of the World Series. Just one strike from elimination in the ninth inning, David Freese's two-run triple put the game into extra innings. St. Louis then trailed 9-7 and was one strike from elimination in 10th inning before Ryan Theriot's RBI grounder and Lance Berkman's run-scoring single. Freese homered in the 11th for a 10-9 win. St. Louis went on to win Game 7, 6-2, for the title.
PLUCK OF THE IRISH
The 2001 women's NCAA basketball tournament featured a UConn team with Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird. But in the national semifinals, the Huskies faced a Notre Dame squad with player of the year Ruth Riley. Weeks earlier, the Huskies had beaten the Irish in the Big East title game when Bird hit a buzzer shot over Riley, and in their Final Four matchup, UConn went ahead by 16. But the Irish weren't done. Led by Niele Ivey's 21 points and Alicia Ratay's 20, Notre Dame shut down UConn in the second half and captured a 90-75 victory. Notre Dame then hung on against Purdue in the final to win its first (and only) women's title.
CHANG FIGHTS ON
At the 1989 French Open, 17-year-old Michael Chang lost the first two sets of his fourth-round match against No. 1-ranked Ivan Lendl, then came all the way back to win 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, on his way to becoming the youngest male champion at a Grand Slam tournament (a record that still stands) and the first American man to win the Roland Garros title since Tony Trabert in 1955. Chang considered quitting because of debilitating leg cramps that began in the fourth set of the 4½-hour match. He stood through changeovers, instead of sitting, because he worried his legs would lock up. He guzzled water and munched on bananas. Famously, he served underhand in the fifth set. Another unusual tactic: When Lendl, who retired with eight Grand Slam titles, served on match point, Chang flustered him by hobbling all the way up to the service line, something rarely seen at top-level tennis. Lendl double-faulted, ending the match.
HARVARD'S GREATEST TIE
With less than a minute left in the 1968 edition of Harvard's annual football rivalry game with Yale, the Crimson were down 29-13. But two quick touchdowns left Harvard with a final chance to avoid a loss as it went for a second 2-point conversion. Announcer Don Gillis had the call on a pass from Frank Champi to Pete Varney with no time left: "Hang onto your hats, boys and girls. Let's just watch. ... Champi ... He's got it! He's got it to Varney! And it ends 29-29! What a finish!" Harvard's student newspaper captured the moment in its headline: "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29."