Nine riveting (and not always nice) rivalries
A great rivalry draws out the best in the best. Would Annika Sorenstam have been the first female golfer with a scoring average less than 70 if Karrie Webb hadn't chased her down the fairway throughout 1998? Would Chinese and American gymnasts have combined for 13 medals in Beijing if they hadn't been obsessed with out-leaping, out-twisting and out-tumbling each other? Of course, rivalries can also summon the worst in the best. At the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Dutchwoman Inge de Brjuin so frustrated fellow swimmer Amy Van Dyken that the American spat in her opponent's lane. Also Down Under, during a basketball battle between Australia and the U.S., Lauren Jackson (far right) ripped out Lisa Leslie's hair weave -- accidently, she says -- while going for the ball. Fierce or friendly, rivalries inspire exaggerated action that demands our full attention. Here, we zoom in on nine of the best.
-- Lindsay Berra, ESPN The Magazine