Five other major upsets by Asians

Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang wearing the Nike Pro TurboSpeed, the fastest collection of athletics uniforms made by Nike.
Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang wearing the Nike Pro TurboSpeed, the fastest collection of athletics uniforms made by Nike. PHOTO: NIKE

1966 WORLD CUP: NORTH KOREA STUN ITALY

One of the biggest upsets on football's grandest stage saw debutants North Korea, seen as whipping boys, clinch a shock 1-0 group-stage victory against the then two-time world champions.

The match at Ayresome Park in Middlesbrough was set up as a winner-takes-all with the Italians needing only a draw to advance to the knockout stage. But Italy were eliminated thanks to a low drive from Pak Doo Ik three minutes before half-time, as the Koreans held on in the second half for a famous triumph.


1983 CRICKET WORLD CUP FINAL: INDIA UPSET WINDIES

The all-conquering West Indies team were chasing a hat-trick of titles, while India were in their first final, yet the first-timers showed little sign of stage fright.

They batted first and were bowled out for only 183, and most expected the West Indies to eclipse that total easily. Yet they were dismissed for only 140, as India completed a memorable 43-run victory to create history at Lord's, the home of cricket.


2002 WIMBLEDON: THAI PARADORN STUNS AGASSI

With seven Grand Slams under his belt, there seemed little danger for third-seeded Andre Agassi against his unseeded opponent, who had never previously advanced beyond the second round of any Major.

But the former Wimbledon champion had no answer to Paradorn Srichaphan's powerful groundstrokes and was comprehensively beaten 6-4, 7-6, 6-2 in just 1hr 47min, leaving the spectators on Centre Court as shell-shocked as the American tennis star.


2004 ATHENS OLYMPICS: LIU XIANG MAKES HISTORY

The lanky Chinese became his country's first Olympic track and field champion with his victory in the 110m hurdles and also delivered a message to the rest of the world, defying the traditional thinking that Asian athletes could not succeed in sprint events at the top level.

Liu obliterated the field, finishing almost three-tenths of a second faster than the runner-up, Terrence Trammell of the United States. Liu's winning time of 12.91sec was an Olympic record and equalled the world mark set by Colin Jackson of Wales in 1993.


2009 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP: YANG BEATS WOODS

Yang Yong Eun was ranked 110th in the world, but that mattered little to the former South Korean weightlifter who rose to the occasion in magnificent fashion. He started the final round trailing Tiger Woods, a 14-time Major winner, by two shots but snatched the lead with an eagle on the 14th hole.

Woods, who had never lost a Major while leading after three rounds, could not respond and finished second. Yang's win remains the only time an Asian-born golfer has won one of the four Majors in men's golf.

Jonathan Wong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2015, with the headline 'Five other major upsets by Asians'. Print Edition | Subscribe