2011 was an eventful, and memorable year for sports – especially if you are an Indian sports fan. The World Cup came to town, we were crowned champions and then F1 had its first pit stop in the country. Even otherwise, there were a lot of records that went tumbling, lot of come from behind feats, improbable victories, redemption for perennial favorites and sheer individual brilliance.
We put our heads together and decided to filter out the 15 top moments across sports for the year, as a tribute to the these sporting feats. Of nearly 50 moments we had under consideration, we selected 15 that we felt stood out. The ones that missed the cut include Viru’s record breaking 219, Li Na becoming the first Chinese woman to win a grand slam, the entire Carlos Tevez saga, Geoffery Mutai breaking the marathon record at Boston, Canucks losing to Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals which led to riots in Vancouver among others.
The ones that did make the cut though have been presented below. The podcast is divided in 3 parts, each part having 5 of these stories in reverse order starting with 15. We would love to have your views to know if you agree with the list, or would have something different in the Top 15.
Part 1 (#11 – # 15)
15. Manchester United winning the league
Sir Alex’s Ferguson’s side lifted the trophy for a record 19th time, knocking Liverpool of its mighty perch as he put it. He was extremely pleased with the performance, deservedly so.
14. Ireland chasing 328 to beat England
One of David vs Goliath stories of the year, as a storm named Kevin O’ Brian blasted England away to chase an improbable 328 after being 5 wickets down.
13. Japan beating USA in the Women’s World Cup Final
The tournament may not get as many eyeballs as its male counterpart, but it wasn’t lacking in energy and skill levels as Japan braved a national tragedy post the devastating earthquake to give something to cheer about back home.
12. Last day of MLB
Something that defies all logic and theories of probability, as plenty of events happened with near zero likelihood, re-asserting the fact that anything can happen in sports
11. Copa America 2011 won by Uruguay
A poor cousin of the FIFA World Cup, but with a lot of the big names. Plenty of upsets to talk about, finally impressive Uruguay emerging as the champions of Latin America
Part 2 (#6 – # 10)
10. Ashes 2010 won by England
An unforgiving England side inflicted the worst defeat to Australia on its home soil, winning a series down under after 24 years. More importantly, England retained the Ashes.
9. NBA and NFL lockouts
Just when you thought the year had seen enough lockouts with NFL, the NBA went one better. A sad story for the fans, with a curtailed and packed NBA season finally underway a week ago.
8. Vettel becoming the youngest F1 double champ
Another German is taking the F1 world by storm, winning 11 of the 19 races. One of the races was the first (of many we hope) Indian GP, which impressed everyone.
7. Rory winning US Open
One of the brightest emerging talents in golf, finally put his act together to win the US Open. The manner of his victory raised hopes of him getting to that No 1.
6. Cadel Evans winning the Tour De France
Evans overcame age and the Schlek brothers to emerge as the winner of Le Tour, and hopefully set up interesting days ahead for all cycling fans.
Part 3 (#1 – # 5)
5. All Blacks winning the Rugby World Cup
A long wait for one of the world’s best sides. All Blacks finally won the trophy at their home turf, and won it on some style.
4. Barcelona Season – La Liga and UCL
One of the best teams across generations put up a performance that merits their class. An easy win in the domestic league, and a not so difficult one in the Champions League
3. Dallas Mavericks winning the NBA title
Number 41 Nowitzki finally got his due, as an emotional Mavericks side overcame the league super-team Miami Heat.
2. Novak Djokovic season
A record streak, an unbelievable performance on court. Seldom have we witnessed such level of tennis played throughout the season, and it was a treat to watch for all fans. Oh, and that Number 1 for the taking.
1. India winning the World Cup
Dhoni’s six in the Mumbai skyline lit a million fireworks and wild celebrations across the nation. Redemption for the team, the players, the fans and for one man Sachin Tendulkar who got the shining jewel in a glittering crown.