Over the decades of evolution in various arenas of sports and technology, one thing has remained constant: viewers’ astonishment at great sporting feats. Invariably, in a year, there are many inspirational moments that perhaps alter the course of so many lives by just existing. One loses count of the number of children (and even adults) who decide to emulate their heroes after feeling the victory, pain and success of a particular phase, moment or tournament in their careers. 2015 had no dearth of such incidents, and as the year leading up to the Olympics, Euro and various other World Championships in different sports, it has set a solid platform.
Here are the 5 best sporting moments of 2015:
5. Jessica Ennis-Hill at the Beijing IAAF World Championships
The 29-year old British Olympic Heptathlon Champion hadn’t competed in her event for three whole years, and had missed the Moscow Worlds in 2013 due to injury. In 2014, she gave birth, and had to miss the whole season. After the London Olympics (2012), she finally participated at the Hypo-Meeting in Austria before Beijing, and finished 4th, qualifying for Rio next year. However, not many expected her to win the Worlds at Beijing, considering her comeback after such a long competitive layoff. But she took the competition by storm, becoming the story of the tournament (and the year), by winning the Gold with a total of 6669 points. In the process, she established herself as one of the greatest athletes – male or female – in British history. She will be the favorite for Rio next year, and follows in the proud footsteps of Champion moms like Kim Clijsters, Mary Kom and others.
4. New Zealand (The All Blacks) Win The 2015 Rugby World Cup
There has been no greater international rugby team than the All Blacks over the short World Cup history of the sport. After perpetually falling in the final stages of every World Cup since their first win in 1987, the All Blacks finally let their potential meet destiny by winning the 2011 World Cup with a narrow 8-7 victory over France in the final. But no team had ever won two in a row, and Captain Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and other all-time greats entered the 2015 edition in England and Wales as overwhelming favourites once again. This wasn’t new for them; they had entered virtually every tournament as a favourite since 2000, and had failed more than they succeeded in meeting those expectations. But the All Blacks were already on a mighty streak, and they swatted away bogey teams like France, South Africa and, finally, Australia in the final game to win their 3rd World Cup, and becoming the first team to win back-to-back titles. They did it by intimidating opponents with their trademark, deafening traditional ‘Haka’ dance before each game, before taking them apart in superb displays of physicality, skill and speed.
3. Andy Murray and Co. Win The Davis Cup In Tennis
For the first time since 1936, Great Britain won the Davis Cup, and they had their chief talisman and Olympic champion Andy Murray to thank. Murray put together the greatest individual winning streak in the 115-year old Davis Cup history over the year, winning 11 matches (and 3 Double ties with his brother Jamie Murray) and single-handedly dragged GBR to the final against Belgium on clay. In the bargain, Murray suffered a slightly under-par year on the ATP Tour circuit, failing to win a major, and losing to Federer and Djokovic repeatedly – still finishing at no. 2 in the world, which is the best he would have hoped for. He put his body on the line for his country, went the whole hog, and put the Davis Cup in his long-ish list of achievements.
2. Flavia Pennetta Wins the US Open 2015
In an all-Italian Ladies Singles final at Flushing Meadows, journeywoman Pennetta denied Serena-beater Roberta Vinci (also her childhood friend and doubles partner) to win her first ever Grand Slam title, and promptly retired from tennis, a la Pete Sampras. She became the oldest ever first-time winner of any Major here at 33 years of age. She entered the US Open as the 26th seed, and ended as the World no. 6. She defeated Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep on the way to the finals. Though the final didn’t live up to the high standards of tennis these two had played to reach it against all odds, Pennetta acknowledged that perhaps she wouldn’t have been here if not for Vinci’s miraculous come-from-behind win against Serena Williams in the semis, which, in turn, denied Williams the unique opportunity of winning all 4 Slams in a year.
1. Tyson Fury Wins the Boxing World Heavyweight Title
After playing the clown for most of the pre-match festivities, Irishman Fury – named by his father after Mike Tyson – produced a performance worthy of the name when he defeated Ukrainian powerhouse Wladimir Klitschko, condemning at Dusseldorf, condemning the 38-year old to his first loss since 2004, ending his reign as perhaps one of the greatest modern-day Boxing Champions. He had gone 28 title defense bouts without losing, until he ran into Fury, 11 years his junior, on a night where the young, cocky Irishman demonstrated a lethal mix of speed, defense and reach (at 6 ft 9 inches). More memorable was his rather amateur impression of Aerosmith’s popular “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” in the ring, moments after he won, to his clearly embarrassed (in a happy way) wife.