Ok, so I’m officially on holidays.
Well, does that mean I can’t write a final blog?! Well yes, that’s exactly what it means. 🙂 Plus, when you have a soon-to-be-home-in-Melbourne sports journalist legend in Craig O’Donoghue looking for excuses to get out of packing boxes and I need a guest columnist for the final slot for the year, it’s a win-win, right?! I say yes…
Here’s a look back at how the sporting universe panned out this year- from the good to the bad, the tragic to the ugly…
The best ever. An all time classic. What a champion. In an era where news lasts minutes instead of hours and attention spans are seriously tested, it is easy to turn an above average sporting event into something that it’s not.
But when we look back on 2012, it’s going to be hard for anyone to deny that we’ve been spoilt by some astonishing feats.
The year began at the SCG when Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke belted a triple century against India. It began a year where he’d score another three double tons and make us question what it would take to get him out.
Next came the longest tennis grand slam final in Open history when Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal slugged it out for five hours and 53 minutes before Djokovic prevailed 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5.
If that wasn’t pulsating enough, February threw up the NFL Superbowl which captures the imagination of sports fans world wide, even if they don’t usually follow the competition
The New York Giants won in truly extraordinary circumstances after New England deliberately let them score a touchdown even though it meant handing them the lead. The Patriots knew that the Giants would milk the clock before most likely winning the game with a last second field goal, thereby denying them any chance of re-taking the lead.
So, they chose the lesser of two evils and gave up the lead with 57 seconds left so they could at least get the ball back and have a crack at winning. Seen that before?
April gave Australian soccer its moment in the sun and the grand final. Another final, another game of high drama. Brisbane Roar controversially won the title thanks to a penalty from Besart Berisha a staggering six minutes into injury time.
We can debate forever whether the referee got the decision correct to award the penalty, but one thing is certain – the game was far from boring and it went down to the wire.
Speaking of going down to the wire – how was the finish to the English Premier League!?
Manchester City claimed the title in a dramatic final day. Manchester United had one hand on the trophy when their match against Sunderland ended with a 1-0 win and City’s game against QPR appeared destined for a QPR upset.
But then, in the last three minutes, Manchester City scored twice, the title changed hands and sports fans collectively said “wow”.
The NBA show took over in June. It wasn’t a close contest as the LeBron James led Miami Heat dominated. Say what you like about James’ controversial move to the Heat two years ago, but champions define themselves on a big stage.
Last year, James battled in the play offs and was rightly criticised. But in 2012, he stood up when it truly counted and was named NBA Finals MVP.
The Olympics are the greatest celebration of sport known to man. Two weeks of world class competition among men and women primed for what may be their only chance at glory. Imagine the pressure of having just one chance every four years to produce your best.
Usain Bolt made people smile, laugh and gush inside the same minute. The fastest man on the planet became the first person to ever win both then 100m and 200m gold medals at successive Olympics.
Bolt celebrates victory like no man. We know he can run faster because he pulls up before the line in most races. He aims for victory. Now he’s talking about chasing times. Imagine what he has in store for us next.
September started with a bang as Andy Murray became the first Brit in 76 years to win a grand slam tournament. Like the Australian Open, the US Open went down to the fifth set and Murray, who won the Olympic gold medal just weeks earlier, triumphed.
The AFL Grand Final was a cracker as Sydney beat Hawthorn at the MCG despite trailing nearing time on in the final term. The game wasn’t decided until the final minute and we all relish those sorts of premierships.
Sport has taken us to some dark places in 2012. Damien Oliver, Lance Armstrong and the Adelaide Football Club have had people questioning the motives of athletes and clubs.
An NFL player did the unspeakable and murdered his partner before taking his own life.
Port Adelaide and Collingwood mourned after John McCarthy passed away on an end of season trip.
But sport survives and crowds flock to stadiums to feel good about themselves. The sense of anticipation and knowing that you could be witnessing greatness is enough to drag even supporters of terrible teams through the gates week after week.
The world has collectively asked why in recent days after the massacre in America and the suicide of a British nurse after a radio prank. These are reality.
Health issues, family problems, money issues or work dramas are all real problems too. But on the weekend, sport is what turns an average week into a joyous occasion.
It’s only a game, but gee it’s good. We’ve been really lucky to have so much good stuff this year.
Good on you, Craig. You are a legend.
Thank you to everyone for sticking with these pages this year, even after the YWS sport ended. There’s still so much to learn.
Enjoy Jesus’ birthday and try not to get stuck in front of a screen too much over these next few weeks!