Dubai: From West Indies’ impressive World Twenty20 victory to Spain romping to the Euro 2012 title — never mind the crowning glory of an Olympic Games — this has been an unforgettable sporting year.
The list may start with Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal’s five hour 53 minute slugfest in January’s Australian Open final, the longest ever played in Grand Slam history.
But it gets better. In the UAE, Monterosso won the $10 million Dubai World Cup to given Godolphin their first success in the showcase race since 2006. It was a first win in the race for Emirati handler Mahmoud Al Zarouni and young French pilot Mickael Barzalona. There was more good news for the UAE when the country’s under-23 national team qualified for an Olympics for the first time after winning away to Uzbekistan.
Also in football, Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City won the Premier League title with a decisive goal against QPR in the last minute of the season, while Chelsea beat Germany’s Bayern Munich on penalties to win the Uefa Champions League for the first time. Spain then recorded the biggest victory margin in any World Cup or European Championship final when they overwhelmed Italy 4-0 at Euro 2012 in Ukraine.
Europe delivered the golfing highlight of the year when they conjured up one of the greatest final-day comebacks ever witnessed to beat the United States to retain the Ryder Cup.
There were other notable highpoints, with Andy Murray becoming the first British player in 76 years to win a Grand Slam singles title when he beat world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the US Open final.
Sebastian Vettel became the youngest triple champion in Formula One history after a thrilling finale in Brazil, and the West Indies rediscovered their glory years to capture the Twenty20 World Cup by beating hosts Sri Lanka in the final.
But the icing on the cake for 2012 came at the London Olympic Games, where Jamaican sprint king Usain Bolt bagged three golds and American swimmer Michael Phelps bowed out of the Olympics with four golds to take his tally to 18.
The biggest lowlight of the year came when American cyclist Lance Armstrong was banned for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France title after the lid was lifted on his ‘sophisticated and professionalised’ doping programme.