1. Paula Radcliffe
She is without question the best female distance runner the United Kingdom has ever produced, and perhaps the greatest of all time given that she still holds the marathon world record almost 10 years after setting it.
Unfortunately, success at the Olympic Games has not been easy to come by for Radcliffe. Specific failures came at Sydney 2000, when having led comfortably for most of the 10,000 race, she cracked at the death and finished fourth. This pales in comparison, however, to Athens 2004 when, as a heavy favourite for the marathon, she dropped out in tears with four miles remaining.
2. Linford Christie
In 1992, Christie won gold in the 100 metres with a dominant performance, and reached the final in Atlanta four years later. Although age and injuries had caught up with Christie, it seemed that at least he would get to go out on his shield, although his chances of a medal were slim.
Those chances were reduced to zero when he was disqualified for two false starts, and he would never race at the top level again.
3. U.S Dream Team
Americans have something of a bad rep for their arrogance in certain sports, and this arguably manifests itself most strongly in events where they traditionally excel. This attitude came back to bite them where it hurts in 2004, when they lost to Puerto Rico in their opening basketball game, before losing in the semi-finals to Argentina. U.S Basketball have suffered some sobering moments in the past, but this one was right up there with the worst of them.
4. Maurice Greene
As one of the most decorated sprinters in history, Greene was expected to win the 100 metres at the 2004 Athens games at a canter. Not only did he finish with the bronze medal in that event, a lack of discipline with the baton lead to Team USA narrowly missing out on relay gold to Team GB.
5. Michael Johnson
It is often said that to create a ruthless winner takes the experience of failure first, and the irony is that the once failure of this legendary sprinter was not down to him. Johnson lost a lot of strength and weight prior to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and did not even make the final of the 200 metres, and event he was expected to win easily.
Needless to say, his dual gold medal winning performance in Atlanta four years later more than made up for it, and at Athens 2000 he became the first, and to date only, athlete to retain an Olympic 400 metres title.
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