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Esther Vergeer

Sad to report that my 5 a side football team’s 15 match unbeaten run stretching back to September came to an abrupt end last night in a dramatic 13-12 defeat.  I will not dwell on this too much though as it seems we had some way to go before such a run would have been comparable to those who have the very longest ‘winning streaks’ in sport.  I was reading an article earlier today about a lady who has today announced her retirement from her chosen sport following a decade of simply unbelievable domination.  The sportswoman in question is one Esther Vergeer of the Netherlands, whose last defeat in Singles Wheelchair Tennis came back in 2003.  Since then,  she has apparently won 470 (Four hundred and seventy!!) straight matches in competition.  This struck me as quite a lot to say the least so I have done a little (mainly Wikipedia based admittedly) research to put her career into perspective.

  • She has won Singles Paralympic gold medals in her sport in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012,  and Doubles Paralympic Gold medals in 2000, 2004 and 2012, a perfect record only interrupted by a silver medal in the Doubles competition at the 2008 Beijing games!
  • Has won 42 grand slam titles including 21 singles titles from 21 finals.
  • Her last defeat was on the 30th January 2003 by Daniele Di Toro in Sydney.
  • During this run she has lost only 18 sets of tennis, and at one stage clocked up 250 consecutive winning sets!

This is by no means a comprehensive list of her achievements but I’m sure you get the idea!  I would just like to compare these numbers to some famous hot streaks in other sports that are more recognisable, but i think pale in comparison to those listed above.

  • Arsenals’ Invincibles’ 49 match unbeaten run in the English Premier League
  • The US basketball ‘Dream Team’ who had a 64 match win streak spanning 36 years
  • Rafa Nadal’s 81 match winning run on clay courts
  • The racehorse Camarero, who won 56 races on the bounce between April 1953 and August 1955

You would assume them that Vegeer’s winning streak would be the longest in history then?  Well, it seems not.  Jahangir Khan of Pakistan can claim this title (as far as my short Google based research can tell anyway).  Between 1981 and 1986 he played professional Squash, and won an astounding 555 straight matches, including winning a world class tournament without losing a single point!


In an era where we all too often puts sports people on a pedestal as ‘greats’ and lavish them with financial rewards most of us cannot even dream about, it might be worth sparing a though now and again for those in lesser known sports who dedicate their lives to their respective professions and achieve wonderful things.  Take a bow, Esther Vergeer and Jahangir Khan.

*Pictures from The Guardian and Tumblr