by ‘Ifreke Inyang
It has been another great year in Sports. Whether it in Tennis, Basketball, Football or Athletics, the intensity, drama and suspense, held us helplessly captive. Great feats were achieved, records have been broken and new heroes have emerged.
So, what achievements made the top 10 for 2012?
1. Chelsea winning the Champions League
Yes. It was written in the stars. That Chelsea will win the 2011/2012 Champions League, against Bayern Munich, on their home turf. What a lot of pundits have described as a remarkable fairytale run by the English club, ended with Roberto Di Matteo, delivering the only trophy that had eluded Roman Abramovich. A lot of fans have argued that the London team, might just be the luckiest team to win the cup and there’s a debate in there. They were on the brink of elimination under Andre Villas-Boas and also overcame the might of Barcelona in the semis.
2. Lionel Messi breaking Gerd Muller’s record
If there is any footballer that always seems to deliver, irrespective of the huge expectations and hype, it is Barcelona’s forward, Lionel Messi. The 25-year-old Argentine, has been in sensational form all year and as he approached Gerd Muller’s record number of goals scored in a calender year, they were few doubters. Well, not until he tried to do it much earlier and eventually limped off against Benfica. But we all not know he’s superhuman right? That very weekend, against Real Betis, Messi smashed in a glorious double to confine the records to the trash bin.
3. Andy Murray winning the US Open and Olympics
It was a brilliant year for the Scot. Often underrated and sometimes unlucky, his time finally came. Exactly one month after Roger Federer defeated him to win the Wimbledon title, Murray played some fantastic tennis, to shock the world number one 6-2 6-1 6-4, and claim the Olympic gold medal. A few weeks later at the US Open, Murray battled for five hours with Novak Djokovic, to become the first British man to win a Grand Slam singles tennis title for 76 years.
4. Usain Bolt at London 2012
One of the stars of the London Olympics, was Jamaican sprint sensation, Usain Bolt. In the space of a few days, Bolt led Jamaica’s relay team in the 4×100 metres to gold, in a world record time of 36.84 seconds and broke his own records, in the 100m and 200m races where he won gold.
5. Zambia African Cup of Nations win
It had to be Zambia. Yes, Ivory Coast touched down in Gabon/Equatorial Guinea with arguably the best squad out of the 32, but history was waiting to be made. Destiny was calling out, with a loud and poignant voice. Ivory Coast’s attacking trinity of Drogba, Gervinho and Kalou relentlessly troubled the Zambians for 120 minutes, but could not win the match. However, after 14 spot-kicks, Zambia were not to be denied their place in African football history. Kolo Toure and Gervinho missed their kicks and Stoppila Sunzu clinched an 8-7 victory for the Chipolopolo.
6. Manchester City wins EPL
At the Etihad Stadium, there is a banner that simply reads: ‘93.20’. It will probably not make sense to you, if you don’t support Manchester City. But then, chances are you very well know what it means. The whole world does. The 2011/2012 Premier League season, ended on a very dramatic note, as Sergio Aguero scored the winning goal for City, with forty seconds left on the clock. What made the victory even sweeter, was not that they had waited 44 years for this, but they trumped United to it.
7. The fall of Lance Armstrong
One of the biggest news of the year, was The International Cycling Union (UCI), stripping Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles. The sports governing body accepted the findings of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) investigation into Armstrong and banned him for life. Armstrong had won the sport’s most coveted title every year from 1999 to 2005, but the Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme later confirmed that the race will have no official winners for those years.
8. Lebron leads Miami Heat to an NBA title
LeBron James finally led the Miami Heat to the NBA title in 2012. It took him nine years and he needed the help of former rival, Dwayne Wade. The good year continued, as he won gold with the US basketball team at the London Olympics. Now we can comfortably say he is the premier basketball player of the 21st century.
9. USA defeats Canada to win gold in football
One of the football games of the year in women’s football, has to be the intense Olympics final between the USA and Canada. It lasted for about 123 minutes, after the Americans had fought back three times, to force the matter into extra time. They eventually clinched it after Alex Morgan scored with practically the last kick of the match.
10. Felix Baumgartner jumps from space
On a Sunday evening in October this year (depending on which part of the world you are in), millions of keen viewers were glued to their TV and the Internet, as daredevil Baumgartner skydived from the edge of space. The Austrian began his descent from a capsule suspended 23 miles (36.6 km) above Roswell, N.M., breaking the sound barrier and keeping his consciousness – all in five and a half minutes.