Until Demong's mistake, the U.S. had a banner week, taking home three golds, a silver and a bronze. Previously, the U.S. had never won more than one medal at the championships. Demong's gaffe put the U.S. in 12th place, and opened the door for Japan to take the title.
After his start time had come and gone, Demong found the bib in his boot. He had no problem blaming the right person for the error:
“It’s my fault,” he said. “I’m an idiot.”
At least Demong is not alone in making this sort of error. Chris Webber lost Michigan the 1993 men's basketball NCAA Championship after calling a timeout when his team had none to call. Golfer Robert De Vicenzo lost the Masters in 1968 after signing an incorrect scorecard, famously muttering, "What a stupid I am." Thurman Thomas was a non-factor in the Buffalo Bills' Super Bowl loss to the Redskins in 1992 after losing his helmet at the beginning of the game. Fred Merkle, an infielder for the New York Giants in baseball's early days, was best known for the baserunning error that cost his team the National League pennant.
If those other gaffes don't give Demong solace, at least he has a part in an Alka-Seltzer commercial with his teammates. That plop, plop, fizz, fizz might come in handy.
- Bill Demong