Our contributors reflect on their favourite sporting moments of 2013…
The German Invasion
May 25th 2013 saw London turned red and yellow as 50,000 Germans marched down Wembley Way. Bayern Munich took on Borussia Dortmund in the first ever all-German Champions League final.
Bayern were clear favourites after tearing apart the ‘greatest team ever’ in Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate, but Dortmund were not to be outdone: Lewandowski’s four-goal haul against Real Madrid proved that die Schwarzgelben were not going to be pushovers.
The match delivered on all fronts. Bayern went ahead on the hour mark, Dortmund equalised with a penalty 10 minutes later. Of course, though, there had to be late drama. Man-of-the-Match Robben crushed Dortmund’s hopes with an 89th-minute winner to bring the Cup to Bavaria.
This was one of the spectacles of 2013 not only because of the quality of the football or the electric atmosphere, but also for the irony of England’s bitter rivals celebrating on their turf.
This was one of the spectacles of 2013 not only because of the quality of the football or the electric atmosphere, but also for the irony of England’s bitter rivals celebrating on their turf. German football had returned to the pinnacle of the game, with the English teams nowhere to be seen.
Murray Wins Wimby
In July 1936, Fred Perry defeated Gottfried von Cramm to win his third and final Wimbledon title. He was to be Britain’s last male winner at SW19 for the following 77 years, until a Scot from the small town of Dunblane fulfilled his life-long dream in 2013. Andy Murray won Wimbledon.
He beat Novak Djokovic in straight sets on a scorching Centre Court, bouncing back admirably from last year’s defeat to Roger Federer. The significance of the final game cannot be underestimated. Murray raced to 40-0, had three Championship points but squandered them all, being pegged back to deuce. In the past, Murray would have lost that game and, as he has said himself, he may well have gone on to lose the match.
Murray’s improved physique and mental strength saved three break points and sealed the memorable victory.
But Murray’s improved physique and mental strength – no doubt helped by coach Ivan Lendl – saved three break points and, on his fourth match point, he sealed the memorable victory.
Silverstone and Sebastian
June’s British Grand Prix was memorable and dramatic for all the wrong reasons. Pirelli, under FIA decree, had produced a weaker tyre for 2013. After numerous blowouts in early parts of the season, Red Bull, among others, fought for a more durable tyre while teams who benefited, including Ferrari and Lotus, vetoed a change.
At Silverstone, the tyres simply couldn’t cope with the extreme forces of the corners, delaminating at high speed with debris narrowly missing the heads of several drivers. The FIA mandated the change for the second half of the season, leading to Red Bull dominance and kickstarting Sebastian Vettel’s historic winning streak.
It will take a lot to beat the Red Bull racer’s nine straight victories.
It will take a lot to beat the Red Bull racer’s nine straight victories, which equalled the record set by legendary driver Alberto Ascari in 1952-53, as well as 13 wins in a single season, which equalled Michael Schumacher’s 2004 effort. Not to mention that, for the 4th year running, a soft drinks company beat the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes to the both the Drivers’ and World Constructors’ Championships titles.
Some of the biggest moments in sport stem from an underdog coming good to win an event he had no right to be challenging for. Then again, compelling narratives can be found from youthful potential being realised after years of questioning, graft and disappointment.
That’s what makes the maiden major victory of amiable golfer Justin Rose by two strokes at the US Open one of the most significant moments of the year. Rather like Andy Murray’s breakthrough, it’s the culmination of hard work that makes the moment of triumph all the sweeter as Rose became the first Englishman to win a major since his less-revered compatriot Nick Faldo in 1996.
It’s the culmination of hard work that makes the moment of triumph all the sweeter.
His victory at Merion fell on Father’s Day, adding to the achievement’s sentimentality in that his late father was credited with providing his inspiration to become a champion. To top it off, he fended off the challenge of perennial final-day monster Phil Mickelson. Magic.
Image courtesy of anonlinegreenworld via Flickr