2014 has been yet another year packed full of sport. There was the Winter Olympics, men’s football and women’s rugby World Cups, the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games alongside a whole host of other events. The public have witnessed surprises, fairytales, disappointments and tragedy. Here are the first half of my favourite moments from the previous 12 months.
14) Carlin ends drought
At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Jazz Carlin became the first Welsh swimmer to win a gold medal since Pat Bevan emerged victorious the 1974 200m breaststroke. Carlin burst onto the scene as a 20 year-old four years ago in Delhi, winning a silver and a bronze, but poor form and the presence of Becky Adlington meant she soon fell out of the limelight. However, she was back to her best in July, narrowly missing out on gold in the 400m freestyle but dominating her favourite event the 800m, breaking the Games Record twice.
13) History maker in the snow
Lizzy Yarnold may be the British star from Sochi 2014 but I have not selected her in my list for one simple reason: she was expected to win. Although British golds in the winter are rare, Yarnold was in scintillating form leading up to the event and duly delivered. Instead, I have chosen Jenny Jones’ bronze medal in the slopestyle snowboarding event. Although those in the know gave her a chance of a medal, no-one outside of the snowboarding fraternity had ever heard of this woman from Bristol. However, her bravery and broad smile won the hearts of many and a superb performance in the final meant she won Britain’s first ever medal on the snow.
12) Peaty offers glimpse of bright future
After a few miserable years, British swimming finally looks to be delivering on a global front again. The Commonwealth Games saw the emergence of a whole host of young talent, but the real head-turning moment was the European Championships, where Britain won 9 golds and topped the medal table. Fran Halsall and Chris Walker-Hebborn both won three golds each but the star of the meeting was Adam Peaty. The young 19 year-old shone in the breaststroke, winning both the 50m and 100m events (setting a new World Record in the former) before leading Britain to success in two relay events. This, alongside two Commonwealth titles, has put Peaty in the spotlight and even led to a Sports Personality of the Year nomination. Expect big things over the next few years.
11) A rare bright moment
It has been a hugely unforgettable year for English cricket, with a 5-0 thumping from the arch enemy, a home Test series loss against Sri Lanka and horrific performances in the shorter formats. However, the 3-1 Test victory over India was a month of rare success and included one of the most remarkable batting performances the game has ever seen. After India racked up a big first innings score in the first of 5 games, England’s batting line-up had yet again collapsed. When number 11 James Anderson came out to bat his team were still 159 runs behind. However, when the innings finished England were 39 ahead. The bowler, who had never scored a half-century in professional cricket, batted superbly for 81 in an innings full of classy shots. Alongside Joe Root, who has been supreme all year and held the side together on many occasions, he helped set 6 new records and sparked English cricket back into life, albeit only for a month or so.
10) Ronnie back to his Master-ful best
Snooker has had a bad time recently, with players being accused and even found guilty of match fixing whilst other top stars have been complaining about how the sport is being run. As a result, I was one of many who had fallen out of love with the sport. One man soon changed my opinion though and, of course, that man was Ronnie O’Sullivan. ‘The Rocket’ was at his absolute best at The Masters back in January, sweeping aside all before him, including the unfortunate Ricky Walden, the unlucky man drawn to face O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals. He never stood a chance, being thrashed 6-0. The fourth frame that was the best, O’Sullivan’s break of 134 being described as ‘snooker from the Gods’ it was so perfect. Those 8 minutes of sheer genius were enough to remind me just how great a game snooker is.
9) The rookies lead the way
The 2014 Ryder Cup was largely a one-sided affair, with Europe taking victory by 16.5 points to the USA’s 11.5. Under the captaincy of Paul McGinley, the Europeans were the true meaning of ‘a team,’ whilst the Americans were the complete opposite. Although all the winning players were impressive, rookies Jamie Donaldson and Victor Dubuisson were just that little bit more. Both looked extremely calm under pressure despite the nature of the event and the fact it was their debuts, and Donaldson’s haul of 3/4 points was only bettered by Justin Rose, himself in the middle of a purple patch. It was almost poetic justice that the moment to win the Cup should fall to Donaldson, whose exquisite chip onto the green at the 15th hole led to opponent Keegan Bradley condeding the hole to Donaldson and securing the win for Europe.
8) Murdoch upsets the poster boy
After his surprise success at London 2012, Michael Jamieson was the male face of the 2014 Commonwealths in Glasgow. He was hotly tipped to win gold in his favoured 200m breaststroke event and his form leading into the event suggested this was almost a formality. However, young 20 year-old Ross Murdoch had other ideas. He and Jamieson were paired together in the third heat and, whilst it was expected that the former would cruise through to the final, it came as a surprise to everyone when Murdoch and fellow Scot Calum Tait made the Olympic silver medallist extremely hard to earn his place, with the former setting a new Games Record in the process. As expected, Jamieson went up a few gears in the final and set himself what would have been a new Games Record. The word ‘would’ is crucial here though, as Murdoch himself went even faster and sent the crowd into a mixture of wild cheering and stunned silence.
There you have it, 7 of my favourite moments of 2014. The next post will be uploaded soon, so keep your eyes peeled!
few gears in the final and set what himself would have been a new Games Record. The word ‘would’ is crucial here though, as Murdoch himself went even faster and sent the crowd into a mixture of wild cheering and stunned silence.