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Have the British regained that killer instinct?

Have the British regained that killer instinct?

ANALYSIS

They say they gave sport to the world, yet in days gone by British sportsmen had gained a reputation for being the ultimate chokers in just about every sport that they invented.

Tim Henman made it to six Grand Slam semifinals in tennis, four at Wimbledon, one French and one US Open, but could not convert even one of those memorable fist pumping episodes into a final slam appearance.

In cricket a similar scenario. England did actually make it to three finals in the World Cup, only to lose each and every one of them in three different decades, from the shaking ’70s to the nervous ’90.

No change in rugby union either, England going down in their own back yard to the old enemy Australia in 1991 and then Jonah Lomu single-handedly ripping through an embarrassment of a defence in 1995.

Was 2003 a defining moment? When Jonny put the Aussies to the Wilkinson sword in their own back yard, with that injury time in extra time kick, did he unwittingly break the curse of the classic chokers?

In the last few weeks, British sportsmen have won just about everything that was to be won in the world of sport.

The British Lions emphatically triumphing in Sydney by 41 points to 16, their first series victory since 1997; Scot Andy Murray finally ending 77 years of British hurt (fittingly on the eighth anniversary of the July 7 London bombings), and English cricketers, after another Ashes nail-biter over the weekend, seem almost relentlessly assured in beating Australia at every form of the cricketing code. They’ve beaten them not just in Tests but even in the Twenty20 World Cup in 2010.

Chris Froome is almost certainly on his way to a Tour de France victory, in days to come, this after Bradley Wiggins won it for the Brits for the first time in its entire history last year.

At the London Olympics, Britain won 29 gold medals, beaten only by the power houses of China and the United States. So why have the chokers suddenly become champions?

Perhaps The National Lottery money goes some way to explaining a degree of Olympic glory, however, with England’s Justin Rose winning the US Open in golf and compatriot Adrian Newey becoming the only engineer and designer to win the Formula One Constructors Championship with three different teams, there has to be another factor.

There is a saying of course that success breeds success. Each medal-winning Olympian will probably tell you that they were inspired by the victories of country counterparts the previous day.

Murray certainly appeared inspirational in his demolition of Roger Federer in straight sets at the Olympics and again this year for his first Wimbledon major, also in straight sets, only one day after the Lions were victorious.

So who will win this week’s Open at Muirfield in Scotland? Perhaps England’s Ian Poulter or Luke Donald or Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.

Poulter is available at 50/1, Donald at 33/1 and McIlroy at 25/1. Surely with the Brits sweeping all before them in sport right now, one of them has to win.

Poulter and Donald showed up well in the US Open until fading on the final day and the links venue of Muirfield should suit them both. McIlroy has been out of form by his imperiously high standards, however, can he ever be discounted?

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