Year in Review 2020, best sports quotes: Naomi Osaka, Pele, Michael Holding, Vikas Krishan and more

2020 has been something that everyone would want to forget except it has been an unforgettable year. We look at some of the memorable quotes from the last 12 months.

FP Sports December 24, 2020 12:49:09 IST
Year in Review 2020, best sports quotes: Naomi Osaka, Pele, Michael Holding, Vikas Krishan and more

Naomi Osaka wore seven different masks with different names at the US Open to protest against police brutality. AFP

The year began miserably for sports fans across the globe with the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash. That morbid scene and feeling set in for the remainder of the year as the coronavirus pandemic halted activity and civil unrest spread across the world especially in the US.

"Black Lives Matter" and anti-racism messages were spread from American sports to cricket. Athletes, past and present, spoke up on issues that mattered.

As sport returned, in confined spaces and protective bubbles, came the news of the passing of Argentine football legend Diego Maradona. 2020 has been something that everyone would want to forget except it has been an unforgettable year.

We look at some of the memorable quotes from the last 12 months.

  • Pele on once foe Diego Maradona after the Argentine passed away at 60: “One day we’ll kick a ball together in the sky above.”
  • Boxer Vikas Krishan on going for the Tokyo Olympics even as the pandemic raged on: "Chahe COVID aaye ya isse bhayankar koi disease aaye, it doesn’t matter to me. COVID ho ya na ho, humko Olympics main jaana hai aur jeetna hai. (Be it COVID-19 or an even deadlier disease, it doesn’t matter. I will go to Tokyo, and I will win a medal)”
  • Eliud Kipchoge on critics of his feat of becoming the first man to run a marathon in under two hours: “It’s still my legs that are doing the running, not the shoe.”
  • Tennis player Naomi Osaka won the US Open and wore seven different names on her face masks in New York. All seven of them were victims of police brutality and system racism. The ceremony at the end was a strong one.

    Reporter Tom Rinaldi: "You had seven matches, seven masks, seven names. What was the message you wanted to send?"

    Naomi Osaka: "Well, what was the message that you got? ... I feel like the point is to make people start talking."

  • Then Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers in an emotional speech when asked about Jacob Blake, who was shot several times by a police officer in Wisconsin. "All you hear is Donald Trump and all of them (Republicans) talking about fear. We're the ones getting killed. We're the ones getting shot. We're the ones that are denied to live in certain communities. We've been hung. We've been shot. And all you do is keep hearing about fear.
  • "It's amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back. It's just really so sad. Like, I should just be a coach. I'm so often reminded of my colour. It's just really sad. We've got to do better. But we got to demand better."

  • Luger Shiva Keshavan on being recommended for the Arjuna Award: "When I started out, maybe for the initial few years, I think I wished for some recognition, but later it became my personal journey. I kept believing, mera time aayega (my time will come), and maybe it is finally here."
  • Retired West Indies cricketer turned commentator Michael Holding delivered emotional speeches and spoke strongly on racism and issue of discrimination based on the colour of skin. "Until we educate the entire human race, this thing will not stop. The dehumanisation of black race is where it started and people will tell you that's a long time ago, get over it. No, you don't get over things like that and the society has not gotten over something like that.

    "History is written by the conqueror not by those who are conquered, history is written by people who do the harm not by those who get harmed...We are being brainwashed, not just black people, white people are being brainwashed in different ways."

  • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on the side winning the Premier League title. He broke down while speaking to Sir Kenny Dalglish. "This is a big moment, I have no real words. I am completely overwhelmed. I never thought I would feel like this!"
  • Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant's old teammate at Lakers, provided comic relief while delivering a eulogy. He recalled a time when Bryant wouldn't pass the ball and confronted him by saying, "Kobe, there’s no ‘I’ in team!" In reply, Bryant said, "I know. But there’s an ‘M-E’ in motherf***er."
  • Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Ander Herrera on playing without fans: "It's s***, horrible. For me, fans are the key in this sport, they're the most important thing in football. Football without fans is nothing. I hope all the people realise football is for fans."
  • Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo on facing his storied rival Lionel Messi in the Champions League: “Messi and I have shared the last 14 years of our lives, it’s always great to face him... It’s obvious that people talk about the rivalry. For me it’s just a privilege."
  • As far as retirements go, no one takes them as casually as MS Dhoni. He retired from Tests in a complete surprise in 2014 and from international cricket in equally cavalier fashion. On top of that, it came as an Instagram post. A post that has 36 million views at the time of writing. The clincher was in the caption. "Thanks a lot for ur [your] love and support throughout.from 1929 hrs consider me as Retired."
  • India women's footballer Dalima Chibber provided a harsh reality check for the sport for women in the country. She moved to Canada to study and play.

    "If I want to make a career in football in India? I can do that. Would I be able to depend on a football career in India? No, I cannot."

  • Former India batsman Virender Sehwag opined Test cricket should remain a five-day affair and not be made four-day to possibly make it more attractive. "Diaper and five-day Tests should only be changed when its finished, when it can’t be used anymore. Five-day Test is not finished. Test cricket is a 143-year old fit person. It has a soul. Char din ki sirf chandni hi hoti hai....Test cricket nahi," he said while delivering the Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi Lecture at the BCCI Awards.
  • Australian Nick Kyrgios didn't mince words as fellow tennis players played exhibition events and partied while the coronavirus pandemic was raging in Europe. The comments came at the time of the controversial Adria Tour which had multiple players test positive and no social distancing between fans. "You can't be dancing on tables, money-grabbing your way around Europe or trying to make a quick buck hosting the next exhibition. That's just so selfish."
  • Sticking with the theme of not mincing words, former India spinner Bishan Singh Bedi did just that in an email to new DDCA president Rohan Jaitley, son of Arun Jaitley: "I pride myself as a man of immense tolerance & patience..but all that I'm afraid is running out. DDCA has truly tested me & forced me to take this drastic action. So, Mr President I request you to remove my name from the stand named after me with immediate effect."
  • Last week, India suffered a miserable collapse to be dismissed for just 36 runs against Australia in the first Test in Adelaide. 36/9 for India's lowest Test score. Surprisingly, skipper Virat Kohli opted to look at the positive side of things: "I don't think it's alarming and we can very well sit here and make a mountain out of a molehill, it's basically looking at things in the right perspective."
  • Mike Tyson, 54, returned to the ring to face Roy Jones Jr, 51, in an eight round exhibition battle of former heavyweight champions. It ended in a draw but produced a fantastic insight into the life of Tyson. "Listen, I can’t stop smoking. I smoked during fights. I just have to smoke, I’m sorry. I’m a smoker. … I smoke everyday. I never stopped smoking," he said on his usage of marijuana before fights. And yes, he admitted to being high when he took the ring in September.
  • And we end with quite possibly one of the most jarring images from 2020. Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean was engulfed in flames for 28 seconds at the Bahrain Grand Prix and miraculously survived. He later revealed what it felt like to the media. “There’s going to be some psychological work to be done, because I really saw death coming. When you see images, not even Hollywood is capable of doing that. I sit back down and then thought about Niki Lauda, his accident, and thought ‘it couldn’t end like this, it couldn’t be my last race, it couldn’t finish like this. No way'.”

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