Has 2012 Been British Sports Finest?

Written by Andy

Welcome again my friends

There is no doubt the year of 2012 shall go down as one of the best ever years in terms of sporting achievement Great Britain & Northern Ireland has ever seen.

What our sports men and woman have done is nothing short of spectacular and I firmly believe these magnificent achievements will be the turning point for our competitors in not only years to come but that will inspire generations.

In this blog I will go over some of these great results and also talk about the remainder of 2012 and what lies ahead for our sporting greats.

I suppose the greatness started that night in the Camp Nou when Chelsea faced the seemingly impossible task of stopping the great Barcelona in the Champions League who were the reigning champions. That task wasn’t helped when captain John Terry got stupidly sent off after only two minutes after Sergio Busquets had given Barca a 1-0 lead on the night. Iniesta made it 2-0 after 44 minutes and that seemed like that goodnight Chelsea and Barca in another final. But just a minute later Ramires went on a lung bursting run down the right going through the Barca team and dinking a wonderful chip over Victor Valdes to have Chelsea ahead on away goals. 45 Minutes and Chelsea were going to an unlikely Champions League Final but just 3 minutes into the second half and Barca are given a penalty when Drogba brings down Messi. At this point you expect Messi to dust himself down and strike the ball home but NO he hits the crossbar and Chelsea basically defend for the rest of the match. Until THAT moment when even Gary Neville a supports of Chelsea’s rivals Manchester United screamed with pure joy as the much maligned Fernando Torres ran from his own half hit Barca on the break and rounded Spanish team-mate Valdes and put Chelsea in the Munich Final.

Champions League Final 2012 at the Allianz Arena,Munich home of Bayern Munich and 1860 Munich would be the venue for Bayern Munich V Chelsea. Chelsea as they were in the Camp Nou, were massive underdogs and I’d say even more so due to the fact that not only had Bayern looked the part from the group stages to the final but were playing in their own stadium.  Chelsea led by their caretaker Roberto Di Matteo were missing several players especially in defence as they looked to stop Robben,Ribery,Gomez & co. After Bayern dominating the vast majority of the game the deadlock was finally broken on the 83rd minute when Thomas Muller put the Germans ahead and seemingly that would be that but as Gary Neville had said in Barca ‘it was written in the stars’ that they would win and wasn’t he right! On the 88th minute Chelsea went forward for a rare attack won a corner. Mata swung it in with his fantastically gifted left foot right onto Drogba’s head and BOOM 1-1. Few small moments in extra time passed and it went to the ultimate lottery the penalty shoot-out. Chelsea missed their first kick when Manuel Neuer saved Mata’s effort. Bayern would score their first three kicks with Lahm,Gomez & Neuer scoring. Chelsea responded with David Luiz and Mr Dependable from 12 yards Frank Lampard. But then it was the Petr Cech show…the big Czech was outstanding the full game and would save Bayern’s next two penalties. Ashley Cole scored Chelsea’s 4th kick meaning if Chelsea scored their 5th spot kick they would win the prize owner Roman Abramovich had coveted so much in his tenure with the club. There was only one man who was going to take it and that was Drogba. His late header had kept them in the match to begin with and a player who was adored by Chelsea fans and in what would prove to be his final action drilled the ball home to Neuer’s right to win the trophy. Somehow this side showed real guts,determination and pure togetherness to win this magnificent trophy. This kicked off what was to be a truly amazing few months for British sport.

Just 6 weeks later Britain would witness another special achievement this time in the form of cycling.  A sport that we have really dominated when you think of the previous Olympic games led by Sir Chris Hoy and his team. But this event is a little different and is road race a very famous road race called the Tour de France. One of the most challenging and brutal races you can compete in the idea is to complete all 20 stages faster than the other riders in the race. The man who would win the event was Bradley Wiggins representing Team Sky who had only formed as a team in 2009 with their first competitive race in 2010. No other British cyclist had won the Tour de France since its beginning in 1903 so for Wiggins to win the Yellow Jersey was a unique and monumental moment in British Sport. I knew of Wiggins as he was in the successful previous Olympic side as mentioned before and the recent summer Olympic games as we would go on to see. Only Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Steve Redgrave have more gold medals for Great Britain and Northern Ireland than Wiggins. He is also the only cyclist to win the Tour de France AND Olympic Gold in the same year. The Sports Personality of the year will be tougher to decide than ever before but many believe ‘Wiggo’ as he is known as should be in the top contention bracket.

Now the next part probably deserves a blog of its own and forgive me in advance I just can’t discuss every event and winner of a medal as there is so many! I’ll do my up-most to ensure most of the inspired athletes get a mention!

I was thrilled to watch so many events in the Olympic games this summer. Being a fan of boxing and mixed martial arts I would watch most boxing matches and the Taekwondo/Judo. The likes of Nicola Adams in boxing stood out such a character and talented fighter. Jade Jones in Taekwondo was a joy to watch as was an unexpected silver from Gemma Gibbons in Judo. The football of course was watched when Team GB were on but I found myself watching other sports I wouldn’t normally watch. The Shooting for example was enthralling! Peter Wilson was a hero and won a nerve wracking final to get Gold. I’ll never forget the day TWO British sides won in the Slalom with Baillie & Stott winning gold and Florence & Hounslow getting a silver!

We got to the Velodrome for Cycling and we don’t half do well in that don’t we! Sir Chris Hoy yet again inspired with his will to win and Bradley Wiggins capped a fine year off by winning yet another Gold Medal. Other names such as Jason Kenny, Philip Hindes and Victoria Pendleton were stars also.

We aren’t bad in the water either with the legendary Ben Ainslie yet again winning a Gold Medal in the Sailing with his 4th Gold in Olympic Games defeating his great rival Jonas Hogh-Christensen of Denmark.

Track and Field brought us many wonderful moments and legacy’s to build on for future years. Who can forget what the likes of Mo Farrah,Jessica Ennis,Alistair Brownlee and Greg Rutherford done. If these achievements don’t inspire generations I don’t know what will! EVERY single athlete who won Gold,Silver or Bronze take a bow…do you know what even those that just missed out or didn’t live up to expectations well done on trying. We are proud of all of you!

29 Golds 17 Silvers 19 Bronze

65 brilliant medals!

Not only was the Olympic Games the biggest yet but the Paralympics was also a huge success and hasn’t been done better. David Weir for me was one of the most inspirational moments winning an amazing FOUR Gold Medals and will surely go down as one of the greatest of all time.  Ellie Simmonds at just 17 won an amazing two medals in the swimming. The thing that is great about Paralympics is we have so many talented youngsters who will hopefully be winning medals in years to come. Names to watch are Josef Craig (swimming), Jessica-Jane Applegate (swimming), Oliver Hynd (swimming), Jonnie Peacock (100m), Hannah Cockroft (100m &   200m), Aled Davies (discus) & Jonathan Fox (swimming).

Great achievement by our Paralympic athletes also and they can be proud of their efforts

34 Golds 43 Silvers 43 Bronze

An amazing 120 medals!

The platform has been set and these young athletes have hopefully paved the way for youngsters in this country to ditch the gangs,ditch the computers,ditch the violent behaviour and chose a dream and chase it. Many complained at the cost of the London 2012 campaign but not many will have a bad word to say against it due to the wonderful experiences and performances from Team GB. We truly put on the best Olympic Games ever and Brazil has a tough job to do in 2016 to top what our athletes,organisers and volunteers done. The Police and Armed Forces also deserve a mention not only for the amazing efforts they do for us every single day they go to work but for making the games a very safe and friendly place to be. London 2012 certainly captured the hearts of everyone worldwide and for British Sport in 2012 was one of the biggest highlights in our best ever year.

Now within a few weeks of the previous super show we got another one. What can you say about Rory McIlroy to do this lad justice on how good he actually is. I love the golf and Rory is one of my favourite players, I love his aggressive style but the most impressive thing about him is the way he has bounced back from his infamous loss of The Masters in Augusta,Georgia. He was looking so good right up until that back 9. He bounced back a few months later to breeze home and win the US Open at Congressional in one of the finest golfing performances since Tiger Woods won by fifteen shots at the 2000 US Open. Well back to the present and it was the PGA Championship in Kiawah Island. I was glued to this tournament for all four days and it was a joy to watch Rory win by 8 strokes and become the youngest multiple major winner the great Seve Ballesteros. McIlroy has went on to win the Deutsche Bank Championship and more recently the BMW Championship only a few days ago. This young man is still only 23 and has done so much in the game already. He might be from Hollywood,County Down in Northern Ireland but I can see Hollywood in America making a movie about this man one day he is a superstar in the making if he isn’t that in most people’s eyes already! Lets hope he can add another win in the Ryder Cup in the next few weeks also! Go Team Europe!

By this point you are sport crazy aren’t you? I know I am! I ask all this so far can’t be topped can it? can it? You bet it can!

Step forward Mr Andy Murray

I have always believed in Andy it was always a case of WHEN he would become a star and win major titles. Many doubted him, predictably. Another thing people also need to stop is this ‘He is only British when he wins and Scottish when he loses pish’ also…THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN! A lot of Scottish people say this about England and 1966 also when its actually Scottish people who bring it up more than the English! But when you are in a very sometimes bitter nation and a nation that lacks the ambition such as ours at times (Scotland) many would have given up long ago but not Andy. He went to Spain to work on his game as a kid giving himself the very best possible education in the game and its now paying off big time…knocking back a trial with Rangers in the process by the way haha!

He surprised us all with his performances as a youngster and he did of course win the junior title at the US Open in 2004. Before last night Andy had previously played in every Major Final with the exception of the French and lost all four finals 3 times to the great Roger Federor and on 1 occasion to last nights beaten finalist Novak Djokovic.

He very nearly won the big one at Wimbledon in the summer there. I really believe had the rain not interrupted play when Andy who was already a set up, led in the second set, he may well have won Wimbledon also. As soon as the roof was closed it was a very different match.

But the Wimbledon heartache for me was the reason he powered his way to Olympic glory. Smashing the Fed Express in the final he finally won a big one at Wimbledon. He also got a notable silver in the mixed pairs with young sensation Laura Robson a team very much put together at late notice. Its only a matter of time before Andy is holding the Wimbledon crown in my view as well.

Well onto last night and it was Murray’s big moment. A moment that very nearly didn’t arrive due to one of the previous matches against Marin Cilic where he came from a set down and two breaks down in the second set!

Murray got off to a flyer playing some wonderful tennis to race two sets to nil ahead. But Djokovic is also a fighter and the comeback was always going to happen and it did. Djokovic won the next two sets and by this point many were worried Andy may be overwhelmed. But in the final set Andy stepped it up a gear (don’t know how that was possible) to smash Novak 6-2 and finally get the monkey off his back and win a first major title! Despite the very stereo-typical comments from the American presenter about the bagpipes playing all over Scotland (I didn’t hear any did any of you lol) Murray had finally started his major title legacy that will be built on from this point onwards. Well done Andy the whole of Britain is proud of you!

To Round-Up British sport has seen some many amazing things in 2012 and we still have big events coming up!

We have a number of British participation in the Ryder Cup which starts September 28th at Medinah, Illinois. Representing Europe from Great Britain & Northern Ireland will be Rory McIlroy,Luke Donald,Justin Rose,Lee Westwood,Graeme McDowell,Paul Lawrie & Ian Poulter so lets hope they can continue the success 2012 has brought us already!

We have top boxing prospects at the moment as well along with World Champions such as Carl Froch,Ricky Burns and Nathan Cleverly who will be defending their respective titles in weeks and months to come between now and the end of 2012 so lets hope they all retain. With the likes of David Price and Tyson Fury still unbeaten and moving up the ranks in heavyweight time will tell if they can become champion. George Groves is a fighter I’ve admired for several years now and lets hope he can heal up that bad cut he suffered in his last fight to keep his winning streak at super-middleweight going.Finally Kell Brook is a fighter that is now mixing it at the top table and lets hope he gets a world title shot in the near future. The future though is looking for bright again for British boxing.

In the world of MMA our top name in the business Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping will fight Brian Stann at UFC 152 on September 22nd at the Air Canada Centre,Toronto. Lets hope he can bounce back from his last fight where he lost to Chael Sonnen and get himself into the title picture and become the first Brit to challenge for a UFC title. I will be doing an MMA blog soon so fans of MMA will enjoy that I’m sure!

Well its been really enjoyable as ever doing this my latest blog. I’m all sported out I’m afraid so sorry if I have missed any big sporting events you have enjoyed by a British athlete in 2012. But again a big thank you to those all over the world that view my blog I’m flattered it has gotten so many views and regular readers!

Thanks for stopping by The Sports Lab

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