A LOT has happened in the sporting world during the last year and there will be even more to look forward to in 2012.
This includes the European championships in Poland and Ukraine, the Olympic Games, Six Nations Rugby, various golf, tennis, F1, MotoGP and cycling events, plus, of course, a great of domestic football, back in the UK and of course here in sunny Spain!
I have watched a lot of sport in 2011, just like you. There have been some terrific action in all events and here I have selected my highlights from this last year.
• A tearful Darren Clarke striding up the 18th fairway at Royal St George’s on his way to becoming the Open Champion.
• Watching Frankel, the greatest racehorse in training, win the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
• Sitting aghast as Usain Bolt blitzed down the home straight on the last leg to win gold for Jamaica in the 4x100m relay final at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. The speedster had already won the 200m event.
• Urging on Novak Djokovic as he recovered from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in the men’s semi-final at Wimbledon.
• Egging Sarah Stevenson on to a last-gasp win over China’s Guo Yunfei to clinch her third taekwondo world title.
• Applauding the batting of Alastair Cook and cheering my head off as England whipped Australia to retain the Ashes and then thrash India.
• Witnessing some exceptional cycling by Mark Cavendish as he became the first Brit since 1965 to win the world road race title – and applauding him greatly as he registered 20 stage victories in the Tour of France.
• Admiring Mo Farah’s epic running which brought him gold in the 5,000m and silver in the 10,000m events at the World Athletics Championships.
• Seeing Dan Carter’s replacement, Stephen Donald, clinch Rugby’s World Cup for host nation New Zealand over France. • Watching the effortless riding of champion jockeys Hayley Turner, Paul Hannigan and Tony McCoy.
• And with millions of Spaniards, absorbing the exquisite skills of Barcelona and those of the World and European Footballer of the Year, Lionel Messi, in particular, as the La Liga winners doubled up by beating Manchester United 3-1 in the Champions League final.
I must also congratulate Sir Alex Ferguson for reaching the milestone of 25-years in charge of Manchester United who surpassed Liverpool’s record for most League title wins (19)…
German ace Sebastian Vettel for retaining his F1 world driver’s crown…
Brits Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy for becoming the best three golfers in the world… Dai Greene for his brilliant hurdling…
Indian opening batsman Virender Sehwag for smashing a world record ODI score of 219… MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner… Roger Federer for winning his 100th tennis final…
and Swansea City, who became the first Welsh club to reach the Premiership. And finally, the world of sport lost some real superstars in 2011.
So I say to the following R.I.P. and thank you all for some great memories: master golfer Seve Ballesteros, champion boxers Henry Cooper and Joe Frazier, racehorse trainers Michael Jarvis and ‘Ginger’ (Red Rum) McCain, international footballers Florian Albert (Hungary), Nat Lofthouse and Len Phillips (England), Adam Blacklaw (Scotland), Socrates (Brazil) and Gary Speed (Wales), England Test cricketers Keith Andrew, Trevor Bailey, Graham Dilley, Basil D’Oliviera, Peter Loader, Roy Tattersall (who once took seven wickets in 19 balls), Fred Titmus, The Nawab of Pataudi and Alan Watkins, fellow cricketers Sam Loxton (Australia), Peter Roebuck and John Waite (South Africa), racing driver Dan Wheldon, Italian motor cyclist Marco Simoncelli and from the world of darts, Ted Lowe.
Have a very Happy New Year.