Sunday 23 December 2012

My top 10 Sporting Highlights 2012

Last night I noticed that Mark Cole had written up his top 10 sporting events of the year. I was considering doing my own anyway but his writing about his got me to focus on it. And yeah the time I am posting this is deliberate.

10. Rory McIlroy wins the US PGA you may have missed this, you were probably watching the closing ceremony of the Olympics. But golf becomes an Olympic sport in Rio 2016 so what better way to put down a marker than to blow the field away. He shot -6 for the day to win by a winning margin of 8 breaking the record set by none other than Jack Nicklaus on the tough Kiawah Island course. Here is the footage of him zooming to that exceptional final round. He'd earlier in the day had to complete the weather affected 3rd Round and day two was one of the toughest in PGA history with 20-30mph winds.

9. My University wins gold those who know me know that I started out at a Polytechnic, but ended out earning a University degree. But Kingston University already had one Olympic medal courtesy of Gail Emms, but on the last day of competition at Eton Dorney there was a gold for a University close to the Thames, about half way between the rowing/canoeing venue and the main Olympic venues by river. Ed McKeever in the canoe sprint K1 200m took the gold here is his winning performance (from about 7:50 in). I was a very happy non-blue (they came in too late for me).

8. Every nation sent women to London 2012. Not even the men managed that! But yes women like Sarah Attar, Wojdan Shaherkani and Noor Hussain Al-Malki may not have been world beaters. But they have each in their own way made a minor break through for sport. I think their participation is a highlight for sport not just for this year but for history.

7. Near simultaneous shooting and slalom golds being able to watch any sport from the Olympics on the digital service meant that at times sporting moments fused together. Thus it was that on the 2 August I was watching Team GB going for gold in two events in two venues almost simultaneously. And for ages we were leading in both, but there was still some time to go. First up were Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie who were first up in the six crew C2 Canoe Slalom final, with one run to go Team GB were guaranteed gold as only team mates David Florence and Richard Hounslow going last could beat them;  here are their highlights. Meanwhile over at the Royal Artillery Barracks Peter Wilson was edging towards Gold, but there were missed targets, which kept your heart in a sleeve. He managed to hold his nerve as can be seen and it turned into a golden minute: the time was 15:37.

6. Chad le Clos edges out Phelps. One of the tightest finishes in Bejing involved Michael Phelps in the 100m Butterfly winning by 1/100th. On that occasion the most winningest Olympian got his final stroke just right, this year in the 2012 200m Butterfly final he got that final stroke just wrong, see for yourself. Of course with Chad le Clos winning we got introduced to his dad Bert.

5. British man wins a grand slam event yesterday would have been my late father's 70th birthday and he never got to see something I saw this year; a British man winning a slam singles title in Tennis. Hot on the back of his Olympic gold, Andy went to New York and in 4 hrs 54 mins, the equal longest final in US Open history ended 76 years of waiting. It was also due to the rain delay moving the match from the Sunday to the Monday actually 79 on from when Fred Perry won his first Grand Slam event in the same location. Here is the final game of that historic match.

4. Finally a gold for Kath Grainger I've heard it many times that those of us who have competed in sport have always felt for Katherine Grainger. She had three silver medals over the last three Olympics. She had been tipped to be part of the first British women's boat to win a gold at the Olympics before, she was also tipped to do that this year, but had been beaten to that by a quirk of scheduling, the very first final the women's double produced gold. But in the double sculls along with Anna Watkins the weight was over, Grainger was Olympic champion, here is the race.

3. The Fastest Paralympian is from Norn Irn, so he is yes Jason Smith is from Eglington just outside Derry/Londonderry. In the T13 100m he ran a time of 10.46 seconds, he also ran 21.05 secs for the 200m. Both were world records. But he was also quick off the mark when he came into The Last Leg studio when

Alex Brooker asked, "You're from Northern Ireland did you not fancy running for Great Britain?" The response:

"At the time, I had put it out there that is was Britain or Ireland. I gave them the opportunity, whoever was interested. At the time Ireland came back and were going to  help and support and were able to help and Britain were just, whatever. Not really that bothered. And just that Ireland were going to look after me made the decision easy, cause I wouldn’t be politically one way or the other."
A carefully avoided awkward moment.

2. Wiggins wins the Tour de France leading out Cav for the stage win one of my passions since Channel 4 first started to show highlights every July is the Tour de France. This year in the 99th edition we finally got a British winner. We have now won the three major jerseys. He had destroyed the rest in the time trials and on the last mountain rode his challenges off his wheel with the help of Chris Froome. But it was the way in which Bradley Wiggins went to the line. Normally the leader going to Paris sits comfortably in the pack on the last lap. But the man in yellow had a debt to repay to the World Champion, who at times in this year's tour was acting as bottle carrier to his friend. On the Place de la Concorde the Maillot Jaune hit the front grimacing as he was helping take his buddy to the line. For a fourth year in a row Cav won on the Champs Élysées. Here are those final 2 kms.

1. Super Saturday I was a runner (although I'm in marathon training so maybe I still am, and you can sponsor me here) so I know what it is like to run 25 laps around a track. I was also a jumper (although triple) so the events of Super Saturday and the greatest day for British Athletics ever in an Olympic stadium had be up on my feet over and over again. So I couldn't really separate the gold medal successes of Greg Rutherford, Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah. So here they all are from the camera of a fan in the stands, where I probably would have wanted to be (although I'd have missed out on the chance to watch three sports simultaneously).

As you can see if you compare my list with Mark's there are differences. I also think that this year 10 is nowhere near enough it has been a truly remarkable year of sport not just in the Olympic and Paralympic arena but in so many other ways.

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