The sporting calendar began with a bang in 2020 as Conor McGregor returned to the UFC, Australian cricket was on a high after a dominant summer, and the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl. However, in March and April, the sporting world shut down. All that remained were some soccer matches in Hungary and eSports. Sporting leagues were forced to isolate and plan how they could restart their seasons while ensuring all people’s safety. Some sports such as the NBA in America and the AFL in Australia nailed this task, but others such as the NFL and various soccer leagues drastically failed. Nonetheless, here are my Top 10 Sporting Moments of 2020 in what has been a truly unpredictable year.
10. Bayern Munich Dominate European Football
It was a year that Bayern Munich will never forget. After the loss of long-term stars such as Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben over the past couple of seasons, it looked possible that a re-build could lead to some problematic results. However, coach Hansi Flick (who was only supposed to be a short-term fill-in) made some key signings such as Leroy Sane and Alphonso Davies to win the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and the UEFA Champions League in an extraordinary season for the club.
9. India Rolled for its Lowest Ever Test Total
There may be some recency bias in this selection but day three of the first test between Australia and India in Adelaide was one of the most incredible days of test cricket in recent memory. Australia’s record-breaking bowling attack led by Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood skittled India for 36 in a wild first session which saw India lose 4 wickets without scoring a run at one stage. It was India’s lowest ever Test score and the 5th lowest by any nation, a highly unpredictable ending to an excellent first test match.
8. The Great MotoGP Season in History?
I have never been an avid watcher of MotoGP, but I couldn’t turn it off this year as each race contained more and more surprises. The season started off calmly with Fabio Quartararo looking set to take over from the injured Marc Marquez and dominate proceedings, but it was the Suzuki-rider Joan Mir who proved most consistent and walking away with the championship.
7. The Champion Teams who got the Job Done
Liverpool in the Premier League and the LA Lakers in the NBA entered their respective seasons with immense pressure and anticipation for success. Both teams rose to the occasion. After a 30-year wait, Liverpool became the champions of England again clinching their first league title since 1990. For the Lebron James led La Lakers, they won NBA Championship number 17 after a 10-year wait, holding off a courageous but ultimately weakened Miami Heat.
6. Djokovic once again becomes the Villain of the Tennis World
Tennis World Number 1, Novak Djokovic, continued to make it difficult for people to support him. As the pandemic started reaching worrying levels worldwide, Djokovic found it appropriate to host a tennis tournament, resulting in many players, staff and family members contracting COVID-19. His woeful decision-making continued as he was defaulted from the US Open for hitting a lineswoman with a tennis ball in an angry outburst. This will be a year to forget for Djokovic who now has to re-build his image if he seeks to be remembered as an icon of tennis on and off the court.
5. Lewis Hamilton makes his Claim for Greatest of All Time
Lewis Hamilton had another incredible year in Formula One which ended with him wrapping up a historic seventh world title with three races to spare. It amazes me how many people continue to try and find excuses for not providing Hamilton with the credit that he deserves, but it’s impossible to not applaud the utter consistency of Hamilton. He has now drawn levels with Michael Schumacher’s all-time championship haul, and after just signing a new 2-year deal with Mercedes, it looks likely that more championships are on the horizon for Hamilton.
4. Australia wins the Women’s T20 World Cup at the MCG
86,174 fans. It feels like a different world, maybe because it was. We can only now dream of stadiums being filled to the brim, but we can look back at what was a fantastic tournament and an incredible final. Australia demolished India in a historic day for women’s cricket and one of the last major events before the pandemic which will long be remembered in the history of sport in 2020.
3. The Loss of 2 Sporting Icons
Kobe Bryant and Diego Maradona are two household names that we lost in 2020. Kobe Bryant tragically passed away in January with his 13-year-old daughter as their helicopter crashed west of Los Angeles. His death not only rocked the NBA but the entire world, a basketball legend who we lost way too early. Then, in November, Argentine football legend Diego Maradona passed away after suffering a heart attack. Two sporting legends who will be sorely missed but leave a legacy that will continue for generations.
2. The Sporting World Embraces the BLM Movement
In May, the death of George Floyd sparked riots and protests around the world seeking racial equality and arguing against discrimination towards those of colour. The world united as one, and the sporting world also joined the march. Players used sport as a platform to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement especially prominent in the NBA where players kneeled before each game. Although there was some controversy in how to offer support such as in the Formula One and football codes, it was great to see players utilising their platform to spread awareness on issues that deeply impacted them
1. The Fight of the Year
When someone asks me what my favourite sport is, I always have trouble directly answering the question. I often say that if I’m watching sport for the drama and heart-racing moments, it would have to be boxing. That is what the Heavyweight Fight between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury provided in February this year. After a remarkable draw in 2018, the re-match had more hype than you could imagine, and the fight did not disappoint. The walkouts themselves were iconic and led to a world-class fight where Tyson Fury reinvented himself once again to become the heavyweight champion and finish the previously undefeated fighter, Deontay Wilder. The best part? The stunning turnaround of Tyson Fury who had battled with drug and alcohol abuse from 2016 to 2018 which had left him severely overweight and out of the sport. He overcame his demons, pushed himself out of his comfort zone and continued to fight until he got what he wanted, to become a heavyweight champion once again.
There are my Top 10 Sporting Moments of 2020. It was a hard list to order as there were so many memorable moments, but that is the real joy of sport, a great moment is only around the corner! So, as we enter 2021, here are some sporting events that I can’t wait to watch!
The Tokyo Olympics look set to begin in July this year. The UEFA Euros are also set to be played after being postponed. Wimbledon will return in June and the Rugby League World Cup will kick-off in Newcastle in October!
Looking forward to another massive year in sport! Hope you are too!