Your Daily Dose: 8 major breakthroughs in sport

Top: China's Liu Xiang winning the 110m hurdles at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Above: Singapore's women paddlers at Changi Airport on May 31, 2010 after returning from Moscow, where they had shocked China 3-1 for their first World Team title. P
Top: China's Liu Xiang winning the 110m hurdles at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. PHOTO: ST FILE
Top: China's Liu Xiang winning the 110m hurdles at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Above: Singapore's women paddlers at Changi Airport on May 31, 2010 after returning from Moscow, where they had shocked China 3-1 for their first World Team title. P
Singapore's women paddlers at Changi Airport on May 31, 2010 after returning from Moscow, where they had shocked China 3-1 for their first World Team title. PHOTO: TNP FILE

Just because the sports world has stopped doesn't mean your sports consumption has to. In this Daily Dose series, assistant sports editor Lin Xinyi looks at breakthroughs.

1. ELIUD KIPCHOGE, INEOS 1:59 CHALLENGE, 2019

In 1hr 59min 40sec you can watch a movie, take a flight from Singapore to Phuket, or finish a book. But until Oct 12 last year, no one believed a 42.195km marathon could be completed.

Kenyan Kipchoge changed that in Vienna and said: "I am the happiest man in the world to be the first human to run under two hours and I can tell people that no human is limited."

Watch: bit.ly/3cNVApT

2. ADAM SCOTT, THE MASTERS, 2013

By November 2012, Scott had completed 13 professional seasons - enough to be featured in a Bleacher Report list titled The 10 Best Golfers Never To Win A Major.

He had eight victories on the PGA Tour, 11 international wins - including three in Singapore, and a career-high world No. 3 ranking, but the sport's biggest prizes eluded him. Then came the first Major of 2013. On the second hole of a sudden death play-off against Angel Cabrera, Scott drained a 12-foot birdie putt.

In the rain at Augusta, the 32-year-old Australian's Major drought ended.

Watch: bit.ly/3cKz8xW

3. MICHAEL OWEN, WORLD CUP, 1998

Owen's burst from the halfway line for his goal against Argentina in the round of 16 was symbolic. The 18-year-old's career trajectory accelerated after the solo effort.

Potential turned to promise on football's biggest stage.

The 2001 Ballon d'Or winner would look back on that England goal and say: "To play in France and score the goal I managed against Argentina was something that changed my life and that is what a World Cup can do for a player."

Watch: bit.ly/3bANiS0

4. FLAVIA PENNETTA, US OPEN, 2015

This was Pennetta's 49th appearance at a Grand Slam. She had tasted defeat in the first round of Majors 18 times but never the feeling of winning the title. So the 33-year-old was a 150-1 long shot to lift the trophy. She did just that, defeating fellow Italian Roberta Vinci to become the oldest first-time Grand Slam women's champion.

She had one more surprise for the crowd. "This is my last match at the US Open, and I couldn't think of a better way," she said at the prize-giving ceremony.

Watch: bit.ly/2x5Czjx

5. BABE DIDRIKSON ZAHARIAS, LOS ANGELES OPEN, 1938

Before Megan Rapinoe, Serena Williams, and Billie Jean King, there was Babe Didrikson Zaharias. A trailblazer for women's sport, the American became the first female golfer to play in a PGA event at the Los Angeles Open.

She was never keen on just being the greatest female athlete ever. "My goal was to be the greatest athlete who ever lived," she said.

She finished her sporting career with 10 LPGA Major titles. She also excelled in basketball, baseball and swimming. Oh, she also won track and field medals - two golds and a silver - at the 1932 Olympics. Asked if there was anything she did not play, she responded: "Yeah, dolls."

Watch: bit.ly/2W8jk1l

6. JEREMY LIN, "LINSANITY", 2012

Lin was the fourth-choice guard and played just 55 minutes in the Knicks' first 23 games. But, after they lost 11 of their last 13 games, coach Mike D'Antoni decided he needed something different. Lin, recently relegated to the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Development League, grabbed the chance with both hands.

On Feb 4, he had 25 points, five rebounds, and seven assists against the Nets - all career highs - to lead the Knicks to a 99-92 win.

The 23-year-old Taiwanese-American Harvard graduate would total 109 points in his first four NBA starts, more than Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, and Allen Iverson.

"Linsanity" became a reality.

Watch: bit.ly/2Y2U4Mu

7. SINGAPORE WOMEN'S TABLE TENNIS TEAM, WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS, 2010

Second to China at the World Cup. Second to China at the Asian Games. Second to China at the Olympics. Up against the dominant Chinese again in the final of the world championships in Moscow, Singapore were second no more.

In one of the biggest upsets, Feng Tianwei and Co emerged 3-1 champions. It was the Republic's first table tennis world title. Feng said: "Winning an Olympic silver medal was historic. Winning the world championships is a miracle. This is the best day of my life."

Watch: bit.ly/2RZVL9u

8. LIU XIANG, OLYMPICS, 2004

In 12.91 seconds, China's Liu did not just set an Olympic record in the 110m hurdles. He smashed a stereotype by becoming the first Asian man to win an Olympic track title. He proved, in his own words, that "the yellow man can sprint".

Watch: bit.ly/3bA42c3

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 26, 2020, with the headline 'Your Daily Dose of... smashing barriers'. Print Edition | Subscribe