So there you have it, within the blink of an eye, 2012 has come to an end. A year so wonderful and magical, providing undeniable euphoria and national pride, that even the biggest doubter and the most cynical non-sports fan would find it difficult to argue against it’s success.
The year was everything it was built up to be; the greatest 12 months of sport that Britain will ever witness, with a dull European Championships, a diamond jubilee and a bit of rain thrown in for good measure. But what made it so successful?
Well to start with there was London 2012, which is now regarded as the greatest Olympic and Paralympic Games ever staged, whilst England recorded their first test series win in India for over 20 years. On top of that, there was a first ever grand slam title for Andy Murray, a Tour de France victory for Bradley Wiggins and another World Championship for Ronnie O’Sullivan, whilst Manchester City won the Premier League and in rugby union, England recorded their biggest ever win over the All Blacks.
Given all that unbelievable sporting success which the past twelve months has provided, it’s hard to whittle down all the excitement and achievements in to a top fifty, let alone a single figure list. There is simply so much to mention. However, from my experiences within the sports that interest me (meaning I undoubtedly miss out numerous milestones), I have collated my top five sporting moments of 2012.
5) Europe win the Ryder Cup
I’m no great golfing fan, but the Ryder Cup is different. It is sporting theatre at it’s best; intense, gripping and nerve-wracking, whilst it also turns a usually individual sport into a thrilling team contest.
Coming towards the end of the second day, Europe were down and out of it. America held a 6 point lead and many believed they already had one hand on the trophy. And, despite, Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald winning their fourballs matches on Saturday evening, Europe still trailed 10-6 and would need a record points score in the singles on Sunday to retain the trophy.
However, those fourballs wins gave Europe hope and shook the American’s. On Sunday,the “Miracle of Medinah” unfold, with a despairing USA crowd watching on as Europe, unbelievably and emphatically, won 8 1/2 of the 12 points on offer, enough not only to retain the trophy, but to win it outright by a 14 1/2 – 13 1/2 scoreline.
4) Sir Chris Hoy breaks Steve Redgrave’s Olympic Gold medal record
It’s been a year of unparalleled success for Great British cycling. Not only did Bradley Wiggins win the Tour de France (and bag another Olympic Gold medal along the way), but the likes of Laura Trott, Chris Froome and Jason Kenny all excelled too.
And then we come to Sir Chris Hoy, knighted following his achievements in Beijing four years earlier, where he won three gold medals. Britain’s flag bearer in London, Hoy won two more golds, in the Team Sprint and the Keirin. This took his career tally to six Olympic gold medals, a record breaking amount for a British athlete, passing legendary rower Sir Steve Redgrave.
The pride on Hoy’s face, as well as his parents, in the velodrome as he received his medal that night was clear to see and his remarkable achievements were the cherry on the icing of the cake in a wonderful year for Great British cycling.
3) Alastair Cook reaching 23 Test centuries
An achievement that has been perhaps overlooked by the British media, but Alistair Cook’s 190 against in the third test against India in Kalkota was no small feat. The score was Cook 23rd test match century, a record breaking number as the Essex batsman became England’s leading century maker in the flagship format of the game, surpassing the 22 tons compiled by Kevin Pietersen, Geoffrey Boycott, Wally Hammond and Colin Cowdrey.
For several years now, Cook has been a solid, dependable player for the Three Lions, racking up the runs alongside his opening partner Andrew Strauss. When Strauss retired from cricket in the summer, Cook was his natural successor as captain and in his first series at the helm, he led England to their first series victory in India for 28 years.
Even more remarkably, on the same day that Cook scored hi 23rd Test match century, he became the youngest batsman ever to reach 7,000 runs in test cricket , passing Sachin Tendulkar’s record. Given his age, the cricketing world is Cook’s oyster.
2) “Super Saturday” at London 2012, featuring Mo Farah, Jess Ennis and Greg Rutherford
Jessica Ennis’ Olympic gold medal was expected, Mo Farah’s was predicted and Greg Rutherford’s…well that just came completely out of the blue. For all three to come within the space of an hour in front of a partizan British crowd, who without doubt spurred the trio on to their successes, was unbelievable.
It was an incredible night at the Olympic stadium and one that ultimately was not matched throughout the duration of the Games. Throughout the land, sports fans and members of the public, gripped with Olympic fever, shouted and screamed at their televisions for a night that brought unparalleled success and euphoria as, for the first time ever, Britain won three gold medals in one session at the Olympic Games.
Ultimately, August 4th 2012 is an evening that will go down in British sporting history.
1) Andy Murray, US Open champion
My top sporting moment of 2012 was at Flushing Meadows, where deep into the night, Andy Murray became Britain’s first male grand slam champion for 76 years after beating Novak Djokovic in the final of the US Open.
Over the years, many Brits have tried, but ultimately failed, to end the long wait for a major title, with Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski coming closest in recent years. Therefore, the pressure on Murray from both the press and the has been immense, with expectations raised with each coming year as the Scot reached four grand slam finals.
Once Ivan Lendl was brought on board early last year, confidence was high that Murray would finally break his grand slam duck, and after defeat to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final, expectations rocketed as the 25-year old stunned the Swiss legend in the final of the Olympics, dismantling him in three sets on the very same Centre Court to claim the gold medal.
A month later, and Murray’s time finally came, as, after a few traditional British wobbles, he finally secured a grand slam champion, defeating world No2 Djokovic 7-6 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2 in a nervy, marathon match. The victory kept alive the glory and wonder of Britain’s magical summer, and hopefully is the start of a procession of titles.
Obviously, I haven’t mentioned the success of Bradley Wiggins, mainly because I didn’t watch much of the Tour de France – otherwise, he would have without doubt been on this list.
What were your sporting moments of 2012? Please comment below with your thoughts.