What a whirlwind 2015 has been. There are no guarantees in sport and 2015 was a huge reminder of this if ever we needed one.
From the Brave Blossoms toppling the mighty Springboks, Leicester City sitting top of the Barclay’s Premier League, Jose Mourinho collecting his P45 and Tyson Fury out pointing Vladimir Klitschko, this year has been one of shocks and triumphs.
In no particular order, here are our top sporting moments from 2015…
Brave Blossoms Bloom
No one saw this coming. Japan taking on the might of South Africa. Eddie Jones will tell you he did but even he couldn’t have imagined how this game would play out. In their first game of the Rugby World Cup, Japan, a second-tier nation, stunned the world of sport. With a performance that defied belief, they clung on to the two-time world champions right up until the last minute when they were awarded a penalty and a chance to make history. An easy shot at goal to draw the game. But they turned it down and rolled the dice. With a sweeping move, the spread the South African defence from one side of the pitch to the over before a sumptuous finish in the corner and a landmark victory. This one will go down in history.
Stuart Broad’s magical spell
The fourth Ashes Test at Trent Bridge is another one that will live long in the history books. England could seal the series with a win, Australia needs a result to stay in it. On a fairly innocuous track, Australia batted first in what turned out to be the shortest first innings in history. Broad ended the morning with figures of 8-15. Australia were all out 20 minutes before lunch.
Fairytale comeback for Jessica Ennis-Hill
13 months after the birth of her Jessica Ennis-Hill was back on top of the world. There were scenes of tears and celebration at the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing when secured gold in the heptathlon at the World Championships, three years after her last major competition. She secured victory in the 800m, ranking it alongside her Olympic gold in terms of the scale of achievement.
The Tour de France is arguably the most gruelling race in sport. To win it once is historic, to win it twice is only something a select group of riders have done. In the face of French hostility and constant questions regarding his performance and the shadow of doping which hangs over the sport, Froome produced a masterclass in grand tour bike racing, beating the strongest field there has been in years and hanging on during a ferocious last stage to take the yellow jersey all the way to Paris.
Dan’s the man
Cometh the hour, cometh the Dan. Dan Carter, one of the all-time greats, bowed out in style saving his best to last with pitch-perfect performance in the Rugby World Cup final. The game turned when Carter, out of nothing, landed an opportunistic drop-goal, breaking the Australian resistance. The game was to be Carter’s last in the All Black jersey, the same too for their talismanic captain Richie McCaw who surely will be remembered as the greatest of them all.
Glover and Stanning remain unbeaten
Going 28 races unbeaten at any level in sport is impressive. Doing it at an elite level is phenomenal. Helen Glover and Heather Stanning retained their crown at the World Championships in September. They are red-hot favourites going to Rio and one of Team GB’s best shots at gold.
Third title for Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton matched his idol, Ayrton Senna, by romping home to his third world championship, and his most impressive yet. His now-bitter rivalry with team-mate Nico Rosberg simmered all season long but Hamilton was in a different class, performing and delivering when it mattered and when under huge amounts of pressure.
He scores when he wants…
Three years ago Jamie Vardy was playing non-league football for Fleetwood Town. He’s now spearheading a Leicester side who are sitting pretty at the top of the table and made history when he scored in 11 consecutive games. The rags to riches story has captivated the nation and there’s even talk of a film being made of the striker’s life.
In one way it was a familiar tale; heartbreak and tears for an England football team in a semi-final. But the performance from the England Women at the world cup gripped a nation. Playing a fast, fluid brand of football they helped restore a nation’s pride and returned home heroes.
Tyson Fury ended years of Klitschko dominance in the heavyweight division with a surprising, and impressive points victory setting up a possible all-British clash with Anthony Joshua, the Olympic and now British heavyweight champion, who is surely going to rule the division in the not too distant future. Across the pond and there were two huge shocks in the UFC, from fan-favourite Ronda Rousey being knocked out to Conor McGregor annihilating Jose Aldo (who hadn’t lost in a decade) in 13 seconds.
We can’t wait to see what 2016 brings, with the Olympics on the horizon, Eddie Jones’ first 6 Nations as England coach and the most open race for the Premiership title in years. It promises to be a belter!