There has been so much written about the sheer amount of great sport in 2012, that it seems too predictable to write some more crap about how sport ‘united’ a nation, or any of that baloney, because, quite frankly, who cares what some nobody has to say about it? So here are my five favourite sporting moments of the year, ESSAY FREE, with just a little sprinkle of magic to explain my choices.
5. Justin Rose (effectively) wins The Ryder Cup for Europe.
Forget Ian Poulter, the real saviour of the Ryder Cup this year was Justin Rose, and his incredible last day tussle with Phil Mickelson.
Sunday had started with Europe losing by four points to an American posse who, despite the incredibly ludicrous names – Bubba, Webb, Keegan, Brandt, Dustin and Tiger, were playing out of their skins. On the Sunday however, it all changed. A medley of fantastic performances from Europe led the team to a breath-taking victory, but it was the performance of a true English rose which really defined the three days for me.
Rose went two holes up early, but with four remaining, Mickelson was one up, and Rose’s chances were looking bleak. However, channeling the spirit of all those golfing greats whose names I have no idea, on the seventeenth hole, Rose came up with something quite magnificent, to swing the pendulum very much the way of Europe.
4. Bradford knock Arsenal out of the Capital One Cup on penalties
Being an Arsenal fan must be like having the most attractive woman in the world as your girlfriend, but not actually being able to go all the way and have sex with her. You can kiss, cuddle, engage in the most wild foreplay you can imagine, but when it actually comes to sealing the deal, despite all the flair and poise you’ve shown before, well, you can’t actually get the job done.
It has been seven trophyless years for The Gunners, and while the League Cup isn’t the most prestigious item of silverware around, it’s still an accolade which you can carry up and show a baying crowd, rather than the honour of being the third or fourth best team in the country. This seasons cup looked like it was made for Arsenal. As the quarter-finals approached, and the other ‘big’ team left in the competition being Chelsea, it looked a realistic dream, especially with the drawing of League Two Bradford as their opponents.
Life isn’t always fair though, and perhaps as karma for ruining the careers of Richard Wright and Francis Jeffers, Arsenal were outplayed, outfought and out-battled at Valley Parade, eventually falling on penalty kicks to the bantams. As a fan of a lower league football side, it is always pleasant when one of your David’s defeats a Goliath, even if on this occasion, the Goliath was rather impotent. Can’t find a decent video of the actual shoot-out, so have a watch of one of the misses of the season from Gervinho.
3. Peter Wilson wins Olympic gold in the Double Trap shooting competition
The Olympics and Paralympics alike were an absolute delight, and as I couldn’t pick George Michael’s performance of his new single at the closing ceremony, I decided to choose something more sporting related. There were many moments of the games which I’ll remember for a long time. Anthony Ogogo’s bronze medal in the men’s boxing after his almost impossible road to even get to the Olympics. ‘That’ Saturday night, with Farah, Rutherford and Ennis all picking up golds. Me trying to understand the rules of sailing as Ben Ainslie picked up yet another gold. Lutalo Muhammad picking up a bronze in the taekwondo after being made out to be a mug in the whole Aaron Cook fiasco.
But for me, what the Olympics is really about is the celebration of sports I previously had no interest in. When you find yourself watching indoor MENS volleyball at 8am in the morning, you definitely know it’s Olympics time, and it was a similar situation I found myself in, one balmy afternoon, watching a man named Peter Wilson stand straight and then shoot loads of discs making them explode. If I haven’t managed to make shooting sound poetic, that’s because it literally is eight blokes standing around making weird noises, and then shooting discs. But, Wilson managed to shoot more discs than everyone else, and subsequently won gold. I’m not making this sound very good am I?
To be fair though, winning an Olympic medal is cool enough, but to be able to say you’re the best shooter in the world? That’s pretty cool, as long as you’re just shooting discs and not anything else. Sadly, there isn’t even any footage of shooting I can show you that isn’t Rambo in the jungle, so here’s a video of Peter Wilson talking.
Oh, go on then. Here’s Rambo as well.
2. Andy Murray finally wins a major tournament.
It is an opinion that doesn’t find me many friends, but Andy Murray is my favourite sportsman in the entire world. Apart from Carl Froch, he is the only individual sportsman I care enough about that it genuinely makes me feel sad when he loses. And I’ve had to get used to him losing in major finals quite a bit over the years, but worse than that, I’ve had to listen to the amount of unfunny losers who repeated the same ‘Scottish if he loses, British if he wins’ nonsense. Or the ‘HE HAD A GO AT ENGLAND ONCE, HE’S A DICK.’ Or the ‘He has no personality!!!’ brigade.
The last one has always bothered me, because a) it’s abundantly not true because the guy has a great sense of humour and quiet charisma, and b) because he’s actually incredibly successful, partially down I would imagine, because he lives his life like a sportsman, and not as somebody dying to be a celebrity.
It’s interesting though, that in losing the Wimbledon final to Roger Federer this year, Murray, in his tearful post match interview, actually turned babyface, because perhaps for the first time ever, the British public saw the real Andy Murray for the first time. A quite shy, incredibly determined bloke, who desperately wanted to win the big one, not just for himself, but for a nation sick of hearing the name of a sports brand for the last 75 years.
His incredible Olympic games where he won a gold medal in the singles, and almost single-handedly carried Laura Robson to a doubles silver set the way perfectly for a US Open triumph against Novak Djokovic, in what else, a five set thriller.
1. Brock Lesnar returns to the WWE (and a real sport) after eight years away
Fresh after becoming a UFC Heavyweight champion in just his fourth fight, and becoming a legend in the world of MMA, Lesnar returned to the purest sport of them all, professional wrestling, the night after Wrestlemania.
I don’t need to write a ream of rubbish about why this is number one, because if you didn’t react like this guy did after watching it, then there is no point even pretending to be a sports fan any more.
Feel free to add your suggestions for the best sporting moments of the year below. Here’s to a great 2013.