As we come to the end of the year, we’ll be inundated with Top 10 lists of the best sporting performances or moments. But here at Impact we thought we’d dive a little deeper into ‘The Best Ever Year of Sport’ TM,forgot the Bolts and Farahs, and bring you a list of those important sporting moments that you might have forgot, or never even knew happened.
10. Stirling Albion beat Rangers
Rangers FC, world famous and with a ground capacity of 50,000, travel to Stirling Albion, the lowest ranked team in the whole of Scottish professional football with an average attendance of around 500. There was only going to be one result, wasn’t there? Yep, that’s right, the team whose manager missed the game to get married shocked the 54-time Scottish League winners 1-0. If Rangers had forgotten quite how low they’d fallen, this was a stark reminder.
9. Fernando Alonso wins the European Grand Prix at Valencia
Sebastian Vettel may have won the F1 Drivers Championship, but it was Fernando Alonso who was head and shoulders above the rest of the field when it came down to driving performances. Perhaps the best example was the European Grand Prix at Valencia, where he started eleventh and hauled the Ferrari up to first place. This overtake on Webber was sublime – you can see his car is no quicker, but sheer guts to hold off the brakes eventually gets him the pass.
8. Bert Le Clos’ Interview Skills
Probably the only father that will end the year more famous than his gold medal-winning son, Bert’s emotional declaration of pride for his son encapsulated the importance of the Olympics more than any slo-mo montage ever could. Chad should probably get him one of those ‘Dad of the Year’ mugs for Christmas.
7. Chris Ashton’s Try vs New Zealand
On the face of it, this was just another try in a year of thousands across the rugby world, but look a bit deeper and it demonstrates why England might, just might, have a chance of winning the World Cup in 2015. Manu Tuilagi crashes through – count them – Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Aaron Smith, and finds Chris Ashton in the perfect place to score. The victory ended the All Black’s 20-game unbeaten run and was labelled “The best England performance at Twickenham ever” by Matt Dawson. The emergence of a crop of genuine young talent means the future looks bright for English rugby.
6. Gemma Gibbons wins her Judo semi-final
Prior to the Olympics, Gemma Gibbons was little-known outside her own bedroom, but her sheer refusal to lose captured the hearts of the British public. Ranked 42nd in the world and facing the world champion, Gibbons defied all expectations to take the fight to extra time, and, urged on by a raucous ExCel crowd, scored a match-winning ippon. Looking to the sky, she mouthed “I love you mum” to her mother who passed away when Gemma was 17, and a nation welled up.
(Skip to 2:55 in the embedded video).
5. Froome Stays with Wiggins
After battling hard to lose main rival Vincenzo Nibali in stage 17 of the Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome seemed in a strong position to mount one final attack at the lead group. Froome accelerated, but Wiggins had nothing left to give. Henceforth followed an exchange of words which we will never hear, but it’s safe to say Froome was less than impressed. Bound by team orders to stay with Wiggins, he held back and worked up the final climb alongside his team leader, effectively guaranteeing Wiggins the yellow jersey. Message board analysts went into overdrive claiming Froome could have won the Tour if he’d left Wiggins behind, and the man himself was none too happy. What a different year it could have been for Bradley Wiggins – Chris Froome for Sports Personality anyone?
4. Sarah Attar
Hundreds of spectators stood up and applauded an athlete finishing more than half a minute after the rest of the field, which seems a bit odd until you know that Sarah Attar was the first ever woman from Saudi Arabia allowed to compete in the Olympic Games, coming last in her 800m heat. Sometimes sport can transcend social and political boundaries and this was a perfect instance of it being a force for good.
3. Andy Murray Crying
Whilst his Wikipedia page may never list the number of emotional speeches that he’s given (well in single figures, for those of you interested), Andy Murray’s speech after defeat to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final was the moment where he was finally taken into the hearts of the British public. The culmination of a tournament where he played some thrilling tennis, this was a match the Murray clearly felt he could won, but his disappointment didn’t stop him expressing his thanks to the crowds and congratulations to his opponent. A class act.
2. McKayla Maroney Vault
Admittedly a particularly left-field choice, this was a personal highlight of the Olympics. For someone that has never held an interest in gymnastics apart from the one P.E. session where we had to try and vault, these seven seconds still leave me opened-mouthed and emphasise just how far the Olympics permeated our consciousness. If anyone has ever done a better vault than this, I would love to see it.
1. Bubba Watson at the Masters
2012 in golf will be rightly dominated by memories of the incredible Ryder Cup comeback by the British and Irish team, but this one shot by Bubba Watson in the Masters caused millions to shout “Oh my God!”, and not just in America. Watson and Louis Oosthuizen had both shot par on the first play-off hole and moved onto the 10th hole, where Watson hooked his drive far right into the woods. Where most players would have played out onto the fairway, Watson attempted an ambitious hook shot nearly 90 degrees that ended up within ten feet of the whole. Oosthuizen couldn’t respond and Watson secured his first major. A shot worthy of any champion.