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Magical Moments from 2012 - A Look Back at the Best

TOP CONTRIBUTOR
28 Dec 2012, 11:51 IST
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It is unlikely there will be another year for sport like 2012 was for a long time. Memories in the mind will far outlive those recorded on film. Hardly has there been a dull moment this year. From bewildering turnarounds to last minute finishes,we’ve witnessed them all. Here’s a mash-up of the best of the best from the year gone by.

Football

Spain v Italy - UEFA EURO 2012 Final

To do justice to the footballing category,the accolades have to be split between a player and a team.

With their Euro 2012 victory, the Spanish football team became first side to win three consecutive major tournaments (Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 being the other two). After comfortably cruising through the group stage and the first two rounds of the knockout stage, the Spanish shifted into high gear and razed the Italian team to the ground with a 4-0 drubbing. Led by the wonderful midfield duo of Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, the team came to be known as the “Golden Generation” of Spanish football.

Lionel Messi will go down in the history books as one of the greatest players of all time, if not THE greatest. And 2012 would be the year when he did it. When he was taken off on a stretcher in the match against Benfica with one goal between him and Gerd Muller’s record, we wondered if this magical run would end with an anticlimax. Thankfully it was not to be so. Messi broke the record and continued scoring goals,ending his tally on 91 goals.

Cycling

For cycling enthusiasts, the year has been bitter. Lance Armstrong‘s acrimonious extirpation from the the sport’s record books was unprecedented and shocking at the same time. Disenchanted fans eagerly awaited the appearance of a new hero. And then came along Bradley Wiggins. The 32-year-old became the first Briton since the competition’s inception in 1903 to win the Tour de France.

Later in the year, his Olympic gold meant he would earn a spot in the Guinness World Records for being the first man to win the Tour and an Olympic gold in the same year. The impact his achievements will have on the sport in his country and the rest of the world will last many years. He will always be remembered as the man who took over from cycling’s greatest anti-hero-Lance Armstrong.

Golf

For people like me, excitement and golf don’t really go hand in hand. It’s a bunch of guys hitting a white ball around a large garden for days on end right? Not quite. The finish to the Ryder Cup had me eating my words. The drama that unfolded on the greens at the Medinah Country Club was nothing short of breathtaking. The shift in momentum came when Ian Poulter birdied the last five holes alongside Rory Mcllroy  to beat Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson.

That crucial point meant the deficit was four points ahead of the singles. No away side had overcome such a deficit to win the Cup and it had only been achieved once in the history of the tournament. However, the Europeans displayed a grit that threatened to surmount the greatest of odds. Martin Kaymer holed a six foot putt to beat Steve Stricker for Europe to retain the Cup. Francesco Molinari’s successful putt and Tiger Woods’ miss meant that Europe had won the Ryder Cup outright by a margin of one point.

Cricket

Sri Lanka v West Indies - ICC World Twenty20 2012 Final

Choosing one defining performance this year would be tough. A couple of teams, however, deserve honourable mentions.

South Africa lay claim to their coronation as one of the world’s best test teams with a 2-0 series thumping of England and a 1-0 series win against Australia. Both of these victories were all the more special because they came while they played away from home. The Proteas finish the year unbeaten in 10 tests, 9 of them played on tour.

Another lasting image for cricketing buffs this year is the West Indies team doing the Gangnam style, celebrating their triumph in the World T-20 championships.The team, boasting big hitters like Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Kieron Pollard, finally converted good performances into a World Cup winning performance.

Basketball

There wasn’t really any ambiguity when it came to the result of the men’s basketball competition at the Olympic games. The general feeling was that the rest of the world had to fight for second for second spot while the USA team traipsed over to their gold medal. The most riveting battle, of course, was the hypothetical one being staged between the dream team of 1992 and the current American team. Magic Johnson led the offensive of the boys from the 90′s with tweets such as this one:

“The 1992 Dream Team had 11 HOFs, 23 champ rings & the greatest player of all time in Jordan. No chance this years team would take us.”

Kobe Bryant was quick to retort,saying

The fact is, they have [Patrick] Ewing and [David] Robinson and those big guys, it’s tough. If you’re asking me, ‘Can you beat them one game?’ Hell yeah, we can beat them in one game. You didn’t ask me if we could beat them in a 7-game series. In one game, we can beat them. No question about it

Eventually,the USA did walk away with the gold but not without having to quell a spirited Spanish inquisition of their skills. The 107-100 scoreline may have been a little too close for comfort but the teams efforts stood vindicated when Magic Johnson aid that Kobe and Lebron could well have been part of the dream team.

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