Sporting Perfection – How Easy Is It To Achieve The Impossible?

Cricket Technology

Can sporting perfection be achieved? How do different sports measure perfection in their own disciplines and how easy, or difficult, is it to achieve sporting perfection in the most popular of sports?

One of the difficulties in answering this question is defining exactly what sporting perfection is. For example, in golf, is sporting perfection a hole in one, or is it a round in the 50s? Both are incredible achievements but can both be considered sporting perfection for the game called a “good walk spoiled”.

It is the same story in some other sports too. In football, is perfection a once in a lifetime goal, such as Alejandro Garnacho’s goal for Manchester United against Everton? Or is it a team that wins the league without losing a game? Or perhaps it is a team that wins all the major trophies possible in a season?

Perfection is measured differently across different sports and also within each sport too. So in this article, we’re going to look at some possible measurements of sporting perfection and who achieved them.

Plus we will give a ranking for just how difficult it is to achieve sporting perfection in relation to the other achievements listed here.

Remember, for all the sports listed here, you can find plenty of great betting on them throughout the year with bet365 Sport.

Gymnastics – The Perfect 10

Prior to the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, no gymnast had ever achieved a score of a perfect 10. 14-year-old Nadia Comaneci of Romania achieved that feat SEVEN times in those Olympics.

She hit a perfect ten four times on the balance bar and three times on the uneven bars.

Along with Olga Korbut, Comaneci was responsible for the huge swell of support for gymnastics in the 1980s, in particular in the United States where her performances inspired the likes of Mary Lou Retton and Simone Biles.

A different points system is now used in gymnastics as the chance to win a ‘perfect ten’ became impossible after 1992. But Comaneci will always be remembered as the first to achieve it. Difficulty Rating – 8/10.

Ten Pin Bowling – A 300 Game

For casual players, hitting a strike is something to celebrate in 10-pin bowling. For the professional players, it is almost expected with every shot.

The perfect frame of ten pin bowling is 9 frames with a single strike and then following that up with 3 more strikes in the 10th frame. Achieve that, and you land the maximum points total possible of 300.

In one respect, perfection here is tough as just one missed pin makes it impossible to land a 300 score. However, the top players are so good, that 300 games are relatively common.

That means that while the perfect 10-pin game may be a pipedream for the vast majority of us. For the top pros, it is certainly achievable. Difficulty Rating – 4/10.

Golf – A Round Sub-60 where a player scores one under on every hole

There have been a fair few rounds of golf in the 50s in the professional game, and an even greater number of hole in one’s. So what truly is the pinnacle of golf?

I did wonder if it would be an Albatross, a score of three-under-par on a par 4 or par 5 hole. However, it appears that this is not the case.

In golfing circles a perfect round is a round where all 18 holes were played at an average of one-under par or better. That would mean shooting 54 or better on a typical par 72 course.

Unsurprisingly, no golfer has achieved that feat on the main pro tours. The best score recorded at the highest level being 58 achieved by four golfers Ryo Ishakawa, Jim Furyk, Kim Seong-hyeon and most recently Bryson DeChambeau at LIV Golf Greenbrier earlier this year.

However, hitting the perfect round? Arguably the toughest task in sport. Difficulty Rating – 10/10.

Snooker – Maximum 147 Break

Interestingly, John Spencer almost became the first player to score a maximum break on TV when he achieved the feat in a game in 1979, but unfortunately for him the TV crew were on a break when he achieved the remarkable achievement.

The first officially recognised maximum break was achieved by Joe Davis in 1955, but it was not until the 1982 Lada Classic that Steve Davis became the first to achieve the feat on TV. Ironically, his opponent in the game was John Spencer.

A year later Canadian Cliff Thorburn became the first player to achieve the feat in the World Championships.

However, since then maximum breaks have become more numerous. Since 1994/95, a maximum break has been achieved at least once every season.

You can see how common they have become by viewing the maximums in each decade.

  • 1980s – 8
  • 1990s – 25
  • 2000s – 35
  • 2010s – 86

Ronnie O’Sullivan alone has 15 maximums in professional events, including the fastest ever in just over 5 minutes. So while still an incredible feat, snooker players are now so good this is eminently achievable. Difficulty Rating – 6/10.

Darts – The 9-Dart Finish in a World Championship

Up until 1990, despite the game featuring top stars like Erik Bristow, John Lowe, Jocky Wilson and Bobby George, there had still never been a nine-dart finish at the World Championships.

John Lowe had landed a nine darter back in 1984, but that was in a smaller event.

That changed when little known Singaporean Paul Lim achieved it in the BDO World Championship second round against Jack McKenna. He earned himself £52,000 for the achievement.

Incredibly, 28 years later, he hit 11 perfect darts once again, this time in the PDC World Championship, but missed the double 12 for what would have been an incredible achievement.

However, the advent of the PDC and the higher quality of darts played since the 80s and early 90s, the number of 9 dart finishes has increased massively since Lim’s first World Championship 9-darter.

Phil Taylor hit the first live 9-darter in 2002 (the fourth then shown on TV), winning £100,000 in the process.

A total of 89 nine dart finishes have now been caught either live or on TV in some form (including streaming). Fallon Sherrock became the first woman to land a televised nine-darter earlier this year. Phil Taylor has the most televised nine-dart finishes with 11, although Michael van Gerwen is now on 10.

Given that 9-darters are much more common now, the prize money for them has been dropped considerably and while still a fantastic achievement, they are more common than other ‘perfect’ performances in other sports. Difficulty Rating – 6.5/10.

Other Notable Examples of Sporting Perfection

  • Ice Dancing – 6.0 from all judges – Torvill and Dean at the 1983 World Championships and the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo
  • Football – Going unbeaten in a Premier League season – Arsenal are the only team to have achieved this feat, doing so in the 2003-2004 season. Preston achieved the feat in the first Football League season in 1888-89. Preston also completed the double in 1889 and as such they are the only team to complete a league season and win the FA Cup unbeaten. Several other teams in other countries, such as AC Milan in Italy, have also achieved this feat.
  • Football – Winning all top trophies available in a season – While Manchester United (in 1999/2000) and Manchester City (in 2022/23) have won the English treble of League, FA Cup and Champions League, they cannot match several members of the Dutch team PSV Eindhoven of 1988 who won the Dutch League, Dutch Cup and the Champions League and a number of them then went on to win the 1988 European Championships with the Netherlands. Players who achieved that honour included Ronald Koeman, Hans Van Breukelen, Berry van Aerle, Gerald Vanenberg and Wim Kieft.
  • Tennis – Winning all four Grand Slam events in a calendar year – Rod Laver was the last male player to achieve this in 1969 (the second time he had won all four Slam events in a year), while Steffi Graf was the last female player to achieve the feat in 1988. Don Budge and Rod Laver are the only male players to achieve the feat, Margaret Court and Steffi Graf, the only women’s player to do so. Graf is the only player to complete the “Golden Slam” by also winning Olympic Gold in the same year (1988).
  • NFL – The Perfect Season – Win All Regular Season & Playoff Games & The Super Bowl – Only the Miami Dolphins have ever completed a perfect season, winning all 12 of their regular season games and then wrapping up the season by winning the Super Bowl. That occurred in 1972 and the only team to come close since were the New England Patriots in 2007, who won all of their 16 regular season games, two playoff games, but lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants.
  • Boxing – To retire undefeated and be a world champion – Only a small number of boxers become World Champions. Fewer still go a career winning every bout and not even drawing. Some of the few to achieve this honour include Andre Ward, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Rocky Marciano and Joe Calzaghe.

The road to sporting perfection is not easy so the achievements of these teams and individual stars should not be underestimated!

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