Blink and you will miss it — one would like to believe that the phrase was applicable in sport for those nano second feats like a Lewis Hamilton revving by or Usain Bolt completing his 100m dash. However, it seems to hold true for the entire sporting year of 2019 as it passed by in a blur and in a few days from now, we will embark into a new decade.
For a hugely rewarding year for sport that it was — which saw the masters of the game rise and shine — there will be a few images which will endure for me as they underlined the power of sport yet again. An ecstatic Tiger Woods, clad in his famous Sunday red, showed that champions write their own script when he ended a drought of majors for 11 years (yes, that’s right) in April at the Masters — the event which started his journey more than two decades back.
My other moment came when Siya Kolisi, South Africa’s first black captain, held aloft the Rugby World Cup in early November in Yokohama — possibly realising a dream of equal opportunities that the late Nelson Mandela may have cherished. The triumph would, by no means, make it a level-playing field in the rainbow nation but then Kolisi and his ilk in the side have certainly made a statement.
Then there was, of course, the night of July 14 which certainly left every sports fan — from avid to the casual — an emotionally drained soul at the end of it. Which one was a greater sporting spectacle — the most bizarre and nerve-wracking Cricket World Cup final ever at the Lord’s or the slugfest that was going on between two of the greatest champions in the Open era of tennis at the Wimbledon? Each to his own, but once again sport mirrored life where a little margin of error can prove so costly in the end.
The heartening aspect as we look forward to 2020 is — there will hardly ever be a dull moment at the start of the new decade with the sheer variety and range of sporting showpieces that will be on offer. There won’t be many vetoes if one says that the Tokyo Olympics between July 24 to August 9 will be like the crowning glory in the sporting calendar.
The excitement, however, will start much earlier when a lion’s share of the football world will go into a tizzy from June 12. No, the Fifa World Cup may still be a good two years away but the creme de la creme of two of the most aristocratic football continents — Europe and South America — will get down to business with the Euro 2020 and the Copa America, respectively, from the same day!
The Euro 2020 will be a ‘romantic one-off edition’ — to quote former Uefa supremo Michel Platini — when the event will be co-hosted by 12 cities of Europe to celebrate 60th birthday of the European football festival. VAR will make its debut in the showpiece which will have the final scheduled at the historic Wembley Stadium on July 12 — again the same day as the Copa final.
The Copa, to be jointly hosted by Argentina and Colombia, has its own brand loyalty and it will offer the genius of Lionel Messi a last chance saloon to stamp his greatness in his continent.
And yes, there is no need for the cricket fan to complain either. The World T20, the most appealing format of the game at the moment, will be held from October 18 to November 15 in Australia.
Now, it probably does not get any bigger than this!