Top 10 Sports Newsmakers of 2012
1. Sachin Tendulkar
He has been a newsmaker for India for the last 23 years. The legendary cricketer went on to become a Member of the Parliament when he was nominated to the Upper House by the President of India. Sachin, who donned the cover of the Times magazine in 2012 May, also completed his ton of international centuries in March 2012, when he slammed his maiden ODI ton against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup.
Sachin Tendulkar has finally reached where no cricketer has been before. However, Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th century went in vain as the team ultimately lost to Bangladesh.
But the ”Little Master” relieved himself of the burden in the Asia Cup at Mirpur Sher – e – Bangla National Stadium for undoubtedly the most anticipated cricket milestone ever.
Tendulkar got to his 49th one – day international century and first against Bangladesh with a clipped single to square leg off spinner Shakib Al Hassan, and did not celebrate much despite the mounting pressure of expectations from millions of his Indian compatriots.
2. Lance Armstrong
Probably the greatest doping scandal as the seven – time Tour de France winner was banned for life after being accused of orchestrating the most sophisticated doping program in the history of sport. Armstrong, who has never admitted using performance-enhancing drugs, was wiped from the sport’s record books. He also faces legal actions which could see him required to return millions in prize money and bonus payments.
But for years he was dogged by accusations that he used illegal performance enhancing drugs and in June 2012, the United States Anti – Doping Agency charged Armstrong with doping and playing a key role in a doping conspiracy while on the United States Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Armstrong has always denied doping, and he initially responded to the agency’s charges by filing a lawsuit in federal court that sought to block the proposed punishment. But the suit was dismissed and in August 2012, Armstrong said he would not continue to fight the charges. His decision meant that he would be stripped of his seven Tour titles.
He continued to deny ever doping, calling the agency’s case against him “an unconstitutional witch hunt” and saying the process it followed to deal with his matter was “one-sided and unfair.”
3. Lionel Messi
Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi set a new record for goals in a calendar year when he reached 86 for 2012. He equalled German legend Gerd Mueller’s mark from 1972 when he sent the ball home in the 16th minute of La Liga clash at Real Betis from a pass by Adriano. The 25 – year – old then added a second in the 25th minute from an Andres Iniesta backheel nine minutes later to claim the record.
In this Sportsmail special, we take a look back at a wonderful year for the little wizard. With 27 club goals already under his belt in the first half of the season, Ballon D’Or winner Messi entered 2012 in irresistible form and officially the best player in the world. And he wasted little time in finding the net in the New Year, with a double against Osasuna in the Copa Del Rey.
Barcelona weren’t exactly struggling to make an impact in the tie, but Messi was introduced for Pedro on the hour. The tempo was cranked up and up after his introduction and he scored first with a header after ghosting into the six yard box and then with a left – foot curler from just inside the box.
He scored five times in La Liga during the month as Barca kept snapping at the heels of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, but didn’t manage to net in the two – legged Cup Clasico.
4. Andrew Flintoff
Former England cricket captain Andrew Flintoff began his boxing career with a narrow victory over Richard Dawson after being knocked down by the American initially. The former England cricket captain beat Dawson 39 – 38 on points after a lively affair in front of 5,000 raucous fans at the Manchester Arena, but only after being knocked down in the second round of the four – round contest.
The former cricket star was aiming to bag 12 bizarre world records throughout the day, moving from one stunt to the next. However, a series of near – misses during the morning, including narrowly failing a reverse bungee jump attempt and a three – point turn challenge by 3cm, meant he had his work cut out as the day wore on. The ex – England captain did manage to set a record for downing a cup of hot chocolate in 5.45 seconds, and another for the most number of “Likes” on a Facebook page in an hour.
He also added a further record by travelling 100m in a pedalo in under two minutes before suffering a glorious failure live on ITV1’s This Morning when he attempted to wrap presenter Holly Willoughby in newspaper in three minutes and seven seconds. He struggled to find the end of the roll of sticky tape, costing him valuable seconds as co – host Phillip Schofield hid his head in his hands. And he was disappointed that he had been supplied with tabloid rather than broadsheet pages, making the challenge harder.
5. India’s Olympic winners :
London Olympics was undoubtedly the best for the Indian sports. Six medals were won by the Indians.
The best, it seems, was saved for the last.
India’s flag – bearer at the Opening Ceremony and the 2008 Beijing Games bronze medallist was six minutes away from winning a gold in the 66kg freestyle event. On the final day of the Olympics, the star wrestler took centre stage against the Beijing gold medallist Ramazan Sahin in the round of 16.
An upset 3 – 1 win over the Turk made him a favourite to make the final and he beat Ikhtiyor Navruzov and Akhzurek Tanatarov to set up the gold medal match with Japanese Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu. A stomach bug set him back in the final and the Japanese proved too good for the Indian but the silver has ensured him a place in history as the first athlete of independent India to win two Olympic medals.
In a high – profile shooting contingent that included Abhinav Bindra, Ganag Narang and Ronjan Singh Sodhi among others, Vijay Kumar entered the 25m rapid fire pistol qualifiers without a lot of expectations.
But a fourth – place finish meant the whole of India was watching the six – man final with bated breath and Vijay did exceptionally well to hold his own against some world class shooters to claim the silver. After shooting 585 over two stage of the qualification, the Indian was consistent right through the final but could not match the highly – accurate Leuris Pupo of Cuba.
MC Mary Kom
A five – time world champion, Mary Kom had waited for many years to make her Olympic debut. With women’s boxing set to make its debut in London, Mary had her chance but not without a price. The Indian won all her world titles in the 45 and 45Kg categories and would have to compete in the 51Kg category, the lowest in the Games.
After a lot of hard work and numerous attempts to put on weight, Mary entered the ring, clearly struggling on power and in height against almost everyone else in the category. But the mother of two fought will all her heart, punched well above her weight, and finally fell to eventual gold medalist Nicola Adams in the final four. This was a bronze worth its weight in gold.
No athlete would want to win a medal the way Saina did. Having stormed into the semi – finals without dropping a game, the Indian was up against Yihan Wang, the world’s best player and lost 21-13, 21-13. She was up against another tough opponent in the semi – finals, China’s Xin Wang.
Saina lost the opening game, in which she showed signs of dominating her opponent towards the end. But Wang had twisted her ankle during the first game and had to conceded the match after just one point in the second. Saina said she was not happy at the way she won the medal, India’s first in the sport, but was delighted that India left a mark in badminton at the Games.
Gagan would be the first person to tell you that a bit if disappointment will always surround his bronze – winning effort in London. The Indian entered the Games in terrific form and was a favourite in the 10m air rifle event along with Abhinav Bindra, the Beijing gold medalist.
While Bindra failed to make the final, Gagan qualified for the final with a score of 598 / 600, just one point behind the joint leader Niccolo Campriani and Alin George Maldoveanu. The Indian was in the running for a silver but a 9.5 with the eighth shot cost him dearly as Campriani held on while Maldovenau claimed gold.
Dutt came to London determined to make up for the disappointment of the 2008 Beijing Games, where he missed a medal by a whisker. The 29 – year – old came through the qualifier but went down to Besik Kudukhov in the Round of 16, which ended his hopes of a silver or gold.
Fortunately, Kudukhov made the final and Dutt had a shot at the medal thanks to the repechage round although he would have to beat three wrestlers in less than an hour to reach the podium. Dutt, however, showed great grit and courage and above all, a lot of intelligence on the mat, as he beat Franklin Matos Gomez, Masoud Esmaeil Poorjouybari and Myong Jong Ri to take the bronze despite a swollen eye.
6. Sebastian Vettel
In a gripping season – ending race in Brazil, Vettel became the youngest triple champion in Formula One history. The 25 – year – old German Red Bull driver, who was involved in an opening lap collision with Bruno Senna, finished sixth. His only title rival, Fernando Alonso, finished second, but it was not enough to overhaul a pre – race 13 – point deficit as Vettel winning the crown by just three points.
Sebastian Vettel has what it takes to go one better than Michael Schumacher and win eight world titles, according to former F1 commentator Murray Walker.
Walker thinks if the German is smart about who he drives for he has a great chance to eclipse Schumacher.
“He is very likely to beat Schumacher’s record,” said Murray. “If he doesn’t beat the record it will mean he hasn’t made very good choices about the car he drives. But he is a very astute bloke and I don’t think he will make bad choices.”
The last three seasons have also been some of the best, says Murray, even better than the 1980s. Murray told the Metro : “I used to say the 1980s was a golden period but the last three seasons have exceeded that,” he continued.
“They have been three wonderful years with each seeming to get better than the last when you couldn’t believe that was possible. “I mean, the climax to 2012 with that race in Brazil was unbelievable, with Vettel spinning backwards and then recovering to become a triple World Champion.”
7. Andy Murray
Murray’s five – set win over Novak Djokovic at the US Open made him the first British man to win a Grand Slam singles title in 76 years. The victory came just weeks after he had won Olympic gold at the All England Club beating Roger Federer, the man who had denied him in the Wimbledon final.
Andy Murray won a U.S. Open final – record 22 – point tiebreaker against Novak Djokovic in the first set Monday.
The 7-6 ( 10 ) score for Murray, who converted his sixth set point, made it the longest tiebreaker ever played in the tournament’s men’s title match. The tiebreaker alone lasted 25 minutes. There had been two 20 – point tiebreakers.
In 1987, Ivan Lendl – now Murray’s coach – lost the first set 7 – 6 ( 9 ) to Mats Wilander before coming back to win the title. In 1976, Jimmy Connors won the third set 7-6 ( 9 ) during a four – set victory over Bjorn Borg.
8. Serena Williams
Down and out after her worst career Grand Slam defeat at the French Open where she was a first round loser, the American thundered back, winning Wimbledon, Olympic gold, the US Open and the season – ending WTA Championships. Not surprisingly, she was voted the tour’s player of the year.
Serena Williams turned the conventional wisdom upside down as she won her fourth U.S. Open and 15th Grand Slam title in the best women’s final since who knows when ( for the record, it was the first one that went three sets in 17 years ). She survived a great scare — and a remarkably strong effort — by Victoria Azarenka, this year’s Australian Open champion, to win 6-2, 2-6, 7-5.
But you know Serena. When other players shine and look strong ( often, it’s either in the early, non-critical stages of a match, or when they’re playing catch – up, under no pressure ) she can lose the plot a bit, maybe even get tight and forget to move her feet. But when it’s reckoning time and other players lose their nerve or feel an icy bead of perspiration rolling along their spines, Serena gets a burst of energy and confidence, as if the choice between perdition or salvation has suddenly popped up before her, and the choice is entirely up to her.
9. West Indies team
Darren Sammy’s West Indies were crowned the World Twenty20 champions in October after a 36 – run victory over hosts Sri Lanka in a dramatic final in Colombo. It was the first world title for the West Indies since the 60 – over World Cup triumph under Clive Lloyd in 1979, and handed Sri Lanka their fourth defeat in a major final since 2007.
10. Usain Bolt
Jamaican superstar Bolt sprinted into the record books at the London Olympics, his double – triple of 100m, 200m and a world – record setting 4x100m relay exhausting superlatives. “I’m now a legend, I’m the greatest athlete to live,” said Bolt. The 26 – year – old now wants to reclaim the world 100m title he lost to compatriot Yohan Blake in 2011 after being disqualified for a false start in the final.
He is the fastest man in the world,” runner – up Yohan Blake said. He hadn’t looked much like it lately, which just gave the Olympic 100 meter even more of a High Noon feel. The fastest guns in sprinting history lined up around Bolt.
He got a slow start, but not slow enough. Bolt got his 6 – foot – 5 frame churning and caught Jamaican teammate Blake halfway down the track. “I knew I was going to win after that,” Bolt said. “I just ran.”
Once he hits top gear, there is no two – legged animal on earth except an ostrich that can run with Bolt. His time of 9.63 was an Olympic record, and just 5 / 100ths off his world record.
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