The Football World Cup in Brazil was always going to make maximum headlines in 2014. And it did. There were some stunning displays of skill, and it took a while before the first goalless draw came along—in stark contrast to the inaugural ISL months later, where almost every second game was a 0-0 stalemate.
Germany became World Champions, and deservedly so. The signs were there. Before they decimated Brazil 7-1 as if it were a weak PlayStation squad of has-beens, a year ago, Bayern Munich won the coveted treble to dominate European football while dethroning Barcelona, followed by Spain’s stunning capitulation in the World Cup. Real Madrid’s Champions League win came largely on the back of their foreign superstars, and the stage had already been set for Germany to reign supreme. Again.
RUNNER-UP: Mercedes AMG
Lewis Hamilton drove to his second World title with Mercedes AMG, formerly known as Brawn GP, with Nico Rosberg finishing second—as the team emulated Red Bull and dominated the year like never before. Only Red Bull’s Ricciardo won 3 races, with the remaining 16 won by the Mercedes stars.
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Cristiano Ronaldo did the unthinkable. He made people forget about Messi for a wee bit, won the World Player Of The Year title, and despite Messi’s Golden Ball award during the World Cup, Ronaldo stunned everyone with his goal-scoring prowess for European and now World Champions Real Madrid by scoring at far more than a goal a game. He looks unstoppable, and would love to perhaps do better at the European Championship with Portugal in 2016. He looks good for another World Player title, his third to Messi’s four.
RUNNER-UP: Magnus Carlsen (CHESS)
The 23-year-old wunderkind did little wrong this year, winning his second successive Chess World Championship, beating Anand for the second time. This was in addition to a bunch of titles, the strongest been the FIDE World Rapid Championship in June, followed by the World Blitz Championships a few days later. He became the first player to hold the title in all 3 FIDE Time Controls.
INDIAN OF THE YEAR
21-year old Srikanth Kidambi became the first Indian male badminton player to win a Super Series title: the prestigious China Open. He defeated all-time great Lin Dan in the final. He went on to reach the Thailand Grand Prix final next week, and the semis of the Super Series Masters Final in December. Kidambi broke ground, adding to Nehwal and Sindhu’s recent exploits, performed strongly through a year in which he climbed up to no. 6 in the rankings.
RUNNER-UP: Bhuvaneshwar Kumar
Bhuvi, as he is commonly known, became Indian cricket’s mainstay in a year where he has been promoted to a Grade-A level contract by the BCCI. Their confidence in him outlines plans to make him their go-to bowler and all-rounder, and rightly so, after his solo performance during India’s doomed Test tour of England. He took 19 wickets and scored 3 fifties, but has been ruled out of the tests in Australia due to injury.
CRICKETER OF THE YEAR: Kumara Sangakkara
The 37-year old Sri Lankan veteran broke Ponting’s 2005 record of maximum calendar runs over all formats in a year. He scored a triple century and a century in a single match against Bangladesh, and a double against Pakistan at Galle. Despite his record-breaking form, he is to retire from ODIs after the 2015 World Cup. He has 37 Test centuries and 20 ODI centuries to his name. His team finally won the T20 World Cup, beating India in the final. Sri Lanka also won the Asia Cup in 2014, making a strong case for Sanga to be named as the ICC Cricketer of the Year, after winning the ODI award last year.
TENNIS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Novak Djokovic finished his third year as the World No. 1, won his 4th season ending championship and his 8th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in July. Federer may have won more matches in 2014, but Djokovic won the important tournaments, and even became a husband and father in his most important season yet.
RUNNER-UP: Roger Federer
No Grand Slam title, but two Masters titles and finally, a David Cup team title to his name in his most successful year since 2009. Federer defied age and form (2013 was his worst), and rose back up to World no. 2 in an impressive display of temperament, grit and attacking intent.
MOMENT OF THE YEAR
Nobody will forget the tragic death of Phil Hughes at the SCG, but heartwarming scenes followed as Australia defeated India in the first test, while the boy at the center of this unfortunate incident—Sean Abbott—took a 6-for in Sheffield cricket to seal his reputation as an upcoming talent for Australian cricket. He will not forget, but he will become perhaps a bowler with a future as bright as Hughes’ batting future was.
CONTROVERSY OF THE YEAR
Probably a tie between Suarez’ carnivorous chomp at the World Cup and Kevin Pieterson’s bitter sacking by the ECB from a team that became the weakest ODI team of 2014, with a captain sacked only months before the upcoming World Cup.