Incredible comebacks. Feats that pushed the boundaries of human endeavour. Epoch-making victories. 2019 was a heady mixture of sporting extravagance. But what moment stood out as the most significant for you? Let us know by voting for the best sporting moment of the year gone by from our selection of 10 such moments. Voting closes on 27 December.
ICC Cricket World Cup final
Bizarre. Heart-stopping. Heart-breaking. Nerve-wracking. Just some of the adjectives that come to mind when it comes to describing the bundle of madness that was the 2019 ICC World Cup final between hosts England and New Zealand. In a match that swung from one team’s favour to the other like a pendulum until both sides were level even in the Super Over, England finally emerged victors for the first time in the history of the competition, but the controversial boundary rule that got them declared as the winners became a subject of debate among pundits and fans alike until it was struck down by the International Cricket Council in a recent announcement.
Eliud Kipchoge runs a marathon distance under 2-hour mark
It has been hailed as athletics' moon-landing moment. Not without reason. No man in history had ever run a marathon distance under the two-hour mark, until Eliud Kipchoge did just that on a cool morning in Vienna on 12 October. While Kipchoge’s timing will not count as an official record, coming as it did under contrived settings, the psychological impact of the run cannot be brushed aside. The run will give hope to runners like Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele and Kipchoge himself that a marathon can be completed under two hours even if the conditions are not ideal.
As a commentator for the race said, “It was one final lung-busting stride for Kipchoge, one giant leap for human endeavour.”
Tiger Woods winning Masters
Fourteen years after he won his last Masters title and 11 years since winning a Major, Tiger Woods wore the iconic Green Jacket after winning the Masters in April this year. Just a year ago, Woods had admittedly told his friends that he was ‘done’. Then he made an extraordinary comeback from the dead at Augusta. So extraordinary was his feat that it moved even the legendary basketball star Michael Jordan to brand it the ‘greatest comeback’ that he'd ever seen!
Sindhu winning World Championship
Bronze in 2013. Bronze in 2014. Silver in 2017. Silver in 2018. It seemed as though PV Sindhu was destined to never stand atop the top stratum of a victory podium at a World Championships. She had come within touching distance four times previously, only to return home with the consolation of a medal of a different colour. Not anymore. In 2019, she won the gold, and with quite some swagger. On her way to the title, she brushed aside Nozomi Okuhara 21-7, 21-7 in the final, thrashed Chen Yufei 21-7, 21-14 in the semis and overcame the deceptive Tai Tzu Ying in the quarter to script a dominant path to gold.
South Africa winning Rugby World Cup with their first ever black captain
South Africa have won the Rugby World before — in 1995 and 2007. But this time it was different. It came with their first ever black captain, Siya Kolisi, at the helm. In a country still bearing the burden of racial strife, watching Kolisi lift the Webb Ellis Cup felt like a watershed moment — one that, in magnitude, equals the moment when Nelson Mandela, wearing a green Springbok jersey, congratulated South African captain Francois Pienaar in Johannesburg 24 years ago on winning the World Cup at home.
Trent Alexander Arnold takes it short and Divock Origi scores!
Liverpool have been part of many glorious days in European football, but what transpired on 7 May was hardly imaginable. To put *that* night in Istanbul to second best, perhaps, Liverpool overturned a 0-3 deficit to topple Barcelona in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
Divock Origi opener and brace from Georginio Wijnaldum, 122 seconds apart, reduced the deficit. The fourth would count as one of the moments of European football. In the 79th minute, Trent Alexander Arnold sauntered across to take a corner and it appeared he would play it short. Instead, he drilled it low and arrowed it into the path of Origi who adjusted his body ever so slightly to side foot the ball home. Comeback, complete.
Federer fails to convert two match points to lose Wimbledon final
Roger Federer, eight-time champion, embodies everything that Wimbledon stands for. On 14 July, he met Novak Djokovic in the final in his quest to extend the love affair with the tournament. In what turned out to be the longest Wimbledon final ever (4 hours 57 minutes), it was Djokovic, inferior of the two on the day, who triumphed, bent down and continued his own tradition of taking a bite of the hallowed grass before raking in all the applause.
Nominee for moment of the year happened at 6.21 PM local time — 50 minutes before Federer's mishit handed Djokovic the match 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 13-12(3) — when the Swiss missed two match point opportunities at 8-7, 40-15. On serve, Federer missed the first opportunity with a forehand going wide and the second with a Djokovic cross court winner even as Federer tried to apply pressure by moving up to the net.
“I will try to forget (this final). I don’t know what I feel right now. I just feel like it’s such an incredible opportunity missed, I can’t believe it," said Federer after the loss — something you rarely hear from him. But it's not often that Federer, or anyone else, loses a Slam final in such a fashion.
Toronto Raptors win NBA Championships
The Toronto Raptors had no business winning the 2019 NBA Championship. Yet, somehow, in a way inconceivable to even seasoned basketball pundits, they did!
Making the Playoffs itself was considered an achievement for the gritty team from Canada. But one by one, they picked apart Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks. Despite everything they had done, not many expected them to dethrone the stacked Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals with the might of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant in their ranks. Despite this, they won the title in a fashion that not even a Hollywood scriptwriter could have written at the start of the season.
India win Test series in Australia
After their disappointing tour of England in the summer of 2018, where they lost the five-match series 1-4 despite some very close encounters, Virat Kohli-led India redeemed themselves around the turn of the year when they beat the Tim Paine-captained Australia in the four-Test series to register a historic 2-1 triumph, their first ever Test series victory on Australian soil after having coming close on a few occasions in the past, ending a long wait that stretched back to their first tour of Australia back in the 1947/48 season.
Simone Biles breaks records at Gymnastics World Championships
Simone Biles left the 2019 Gymnastics World Championships with five gold medals (which swelled her overall medals tally across four editions to 25, a haul that includes 19 golds). But what was most remarkable about her 2019 Worlds performance was that she was winning her medals by such wide margins that she could have actually fallen during her routines and still claimed gold. Take, for example, her gold at the floor exercise was won by a margin of one point while she had a gap of 2.1 points in the all-around final.
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Updated Date: Dec 17, 2019 13:55:33 IST