Summer Lesson: Don’t Go Back

Posted: July 12, 2010 in Cycling, Formula 1
Tags: , , ,

This summer has proven one thing to the world. And that is when you leave something, you should never go back.

For two of sport’s greatest ever stars have fallen victim to that particular pitfall. Step forward Michael Schumacher and Lance Armstrong.

Both once dominated their respective sports and retired at the top with the world worshipping their talents and lauding them up with the best ever to compete.

Yet both were then convinced to come out of retirement, whether through boredom, a love for the sport that hadn’t been quite quenched or financial (we don’t know the exact reasons). And now their names will now have a black mark against them, as they have failed to make any impact back in competition.

Schumacher had won 7 World Championships between 1994 and 2004, and was hailed by such legends of Formula One as Niki Lauda as the best ever to have stepped into an F1 car, when he retired from the sport in 2006.

This year, however, Mercedes GP convinced the German to come out of retirement for a season. How it would have been conceivable for him to do such a thing, if it had been a team worthy of challenging for any major honours. Unfortunately Mercedes are some way off the abilities of the McLaren, Red Bull, Ferrari and Williams cars and won’t be in the mix for anything some October.

Those 91 career wins seem a long time ago now, as Schumacher has barely troubled the podium, with a fourth place finish in Turkey proving to be his best effort so far. This was in turn followed by a 15th place finish in the European Grand Prix, his lowest ever placing.

Silverstone saw Schumacher scrape into the top ten and claim points, but saw him over-taken by Sebastian Vettel, who had been relegated to the back of the field due to a first-lap puncture. Vettel produced a drive reminiscent of Schumacher himself in Brazil in 2000, proving the baton has already well and truly been passed to his compatriot and that his return to the sport has proved unnecessary and unfitting with the rest of his glamorous career.

Lance Armstrong falls in a similar vein to the German Driver. Armstrong is perhaps the greatest cyclist ever to have graced the Tour de France.

Having battled back from testicular cancer in 1996, Armstrong went on to win seven consecutive titles in between 1999 and 2005. This final victory saw him retire from the sport to spend more time with his family, acknowledged as the best ever owner of the famed yellow jersey.

In 2009, he announced his comeback and actually completed the tour in a respectable third place, behind team-mate and overall winner, Alberto Contador.

This year (his final year) at the age of 38, has looked beyond him though. The first major climb on Sunday saw his fall from grace virtually completed, as he fell twice on the course and was dismounted from his bike on another occasion.

This saw him come in over ten minutes behind the stage winner, Andy Schleck, leaving Armstrong’s hopes of regaining the title in tatters and virtually over. A sad and painful end to a glittering career. Once again, the de-retirement has failed to offer anything but disappointment, despite the amicable starting aim of raising cancer awareness.

Other recent examples have seen Mike Tyson and Martina Hingis attempt similar comebacks and fail. Sometimes, when retirement is called, it’s for a good reason and should be stuck with.

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