The A-Z of 2015 : Top Sporting Moments

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January 1, 2016 8:26 pm

 

As another year passes by, the world of sports did not shy away from providing us with some spectacular events, stats and scandals. Players rose up to the occasions, countries were made proud and fans were given the treat of their lives. It’s astounding how a year can encompass of such diverse stories and incidents that teach us so much and shape our thoughts and opinions.

This year was an eventful one to say the least. Whether it was Yasir Shah’s doping that got us surprised or Jamie Vardy’s record breaking streak that made news, it all happened this year. From the good, bad and the ugly, we saw it all.

Although, it’s not possible to cover ALL of them at one go; here’s our attempt to wrap up the year with The Top Sporting Moments of 2015, alphabetically.

A – Australia National Cricket Team

Perhaps one of the most successful national teams of all, the Australia National Cricket Team has had one fantastic year. The 2015 Cricket World Cup was won by Australia as they defeated New Zealand by 7 wickets and clinched their 5th World Cup win, 3 more than anybody else. The standout performances belong to paceman Mitchell Starc and batsman and captain, Steven Smith, the latter winning the ICC Cricketer of the Year Award in December.

But like they say, all good things come to a halt, Australia went on to lose the Ashes series to England, despite being the favourites to win the series.

B – Barcelona Football Club

Arguably one of the best football clubs in Europe in the past decade – Barcelona have had one of their best ever years. After winning the treble last year, Luis Enrique’s men have dominated the La Liga this time around as well.

Football Soccer – River Plate v FC Barcelona – FIFA Club World Cup Final – International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama – 20/12/15
FC Barcelona celebrate winning the FIFA Club World Cup Final with the trophy
Reuters / Thomas Peter
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Barcelona owe most of their success to their brilliant attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, who have racked up a staggering 122 goals combined, the highest ever for an attacking trio in Spanish club football history.

Barcelona also won the FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup, only proving how strong they have become over the years. In 2015, Lionel Messi also won the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award for best player.

C – Carolina Marin

The Spanish Badminton player has had a year she would like to remember for a long time to come. In 2015, she won the All England Open, Malaysia Open, Australian Open, the World Championship, French Open and the Hong Kong Open and as of now, she is ranked World Number 1 in Badminton by Badminton World Federation Women’s Singles.

D – De Villiers

Having already established himself as one of the greatest cricketers of all time, South African AB de Villiers made everyone shed a few tears with him after his side’s World Cup 2015 semi final knockout by New Zealand.

South Africa’s captain AB de Villiers holds the trophy after they beat India in their fifth and final one-day international cricket match in Mumbai, India, October 25, 2015. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files

However, this year has been very exciting for the South African cricketer and his fans as he’s broken some fine records. On 18th January 2015, De Villiers scored the fastest century by a batsman in One Day International cricket against West Indies, as he became the record holder for the fastest 50, 100, and 150 in One-Day International history.

As of December 2015, he is ranked number 1 in the ICC batsmen ratings in One day International cricket and number 3 in the ICC batsmen rating in Test cricket.

E – England

Rugby League – England v New Zealand – Third Test – DW Stadium, Wigan, England – 14/11/15
England players pause during a minute’s silence in memory of the Paris attacks before the match
Action Images via Reuters / Craig Brough
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One of the few entries in this list who made it for negative reasons. 2015 hasn’t been the finest of the years for the English teams across various sports. The English national teams got knocked out of the 2015 Cricket World Cup and Rugby World Cup, both in the group stages, thus emulating the feat made by the England football team a year before. English teams have suffered and they can only hope to regain some reign over the matter in the coming year.

F – Flavia Pennetta

Although the year started out pretty slow for the Italian tennis player, she soon found her pace and jumped right back into the game we all love. She became the only Women’s Singles Grand Slam winner this year who was not Serena Williams when she won the US Open and in style as it was the first ever all-Italian Grand Slam final against Roberta Vinci.

Flavia Pennetta of Italy hits a return to Maria Sharapova of Russia during their women’s singles tennis match of the WTA Finals at the Singapore Indoor Stadium October 29, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su

With this win, she attained her all time career-high ranking, being ranked 6th. She also announced her retirement this year, leaving on a very soaring note.

G – Golden State Warriors

It’s been a year of breaking and setting records for the Warriors. They set a new NBA record by winning their first four games by a total margin of 100 points. After beating the Toronto Raptors, their 21–0 record to start a season set a new record among all professional sports teams. Golden State’s 131–123 win improved their road record to 13–0, the best such start to a season in NBA history.

One of the primary reasons for their success is the sheer brilliance of a certain Stephen Curry, who bagged the MVP award.

H – Hamilton

After a slow European start for the British Formula One star, Lewis Hamilton went onto win the British Grand Prix for the second time in a row and third time overall in 2015 and also surpassed Jackie Stewart’s 45-year-old record of laps led in eighteen consecutive Grands Prix.

In a year of total dominance from Mercedes, Hamilton led the charge with teammate Nico Rosberg never far behind. The Brit won the US Grand Prix and secured his 3rd Drivers’ Championship and became the Formula One World Champion yet again, thus emulating the success of his idol, Ayrton Senna.

I – Indian Hockey Team

The Indian Hockey Team saw some highs and lows this year. Be it the return of the Indian Women’s Hockey Team into the Olympics after 36 years, or the Bronze in the Hockey World League by the Men’s team, 2015 was certainly a memorable year for the country’s national sport.

Indian Mens Hockey Team

The coach of the team, Paul Van Ass was also sacked unceremoniously after a heated spat with Hockey India president Narinder Batra. Despite these drawbacks, India performed very well against big ticket teams such as Germany, Australia and Netherlands.

J – Jamie Vardy

Who would have thought that the small time English player who played in the not so known Northern Premier League a mere three seasons ago, would now be the English Premier League’s top scorer with a record only legends could break. Jamie Vardy scored in a staggering 11 consecutive Premier League matches, thus breaking former Manchester United and Real Madrid legend Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s record.

Football – Stoke City v Leicester City – Barclays Premier League – Britannia Stadium – 19/9/15
Jamie Vardy celebrates after scoring the second goal for Leicester
Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Paul Burrows
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In addition to this monumental feat he has played a crucial role in Leicester City’s fantastic performances in the Premier League this season as they stand in second position in the league table and to top it all off, Vardy got his first international call up for England in 2015.

K – Kane Williamson

The young New Zealander has had a fantastic year. Williamson is currently 3rd on the list of the highest ever strike-rated century by a New Zealander in a One-Day International. In December 2015, during the second Test against Sri Lanka, Williamson broke the record for the most Test runs scored in a calendar year by a New Zealander, with 1172 runs.

New Zealand’s Kane Williamson prepares to hit a boundary off a delivery from Australia’s Josh Hazlewood during the third day of the second cricket test match at the WACA ground in Perth, Western Australia, November 15, 2015. REUTERS/David Gray

The highlight of the year for the batsman would be when he was appointed as captain of the National Cricket Team following Brendon McCullum’s retirement announcement.

L – Lee Chong Wei

One of the biggest comeback stories of the year. After serving eight months in suspension on doping charges, badminton star Lee Chong Wei’s first 2015 tournament was the Sudirman Cup where he won all 3 matches he played.After that, there was no turning back.

He won back to back titles winning the US Open and Canada Open. He also won the French Open and his first ever China Open making him the men’s single badminton player to have won all Super Series titles. He ended the year winning 3 back to back titles.

M – Martina Hingis

2015 brought interesting prospects for Martina Hingis as she won in spectacular style. She paired with Leander Paes in the 2015 Australian Open Mixed Doubles and won the title, her first Grand Slam since the 2006 Australian Open. Hingis later partnered with Sania Mirza and won the first 20 sets they played and won back to back WTA events namely BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open.

Martina Hingis

Martina and Mirza together also won the women’s double tournament at Wimbledon. Hingis also repeated the same feat in the mixed doubles final with Leander Paes winning straight sets against Alexander Peya and Timea Babos. She also won the mixed doubles title at the 2015 US Open partnering Leander Paes, again.

N – Novak Djokovic

It was trophies galore for the 28-year old Serbian as he saw a good run this year winning his 5th Australian Open, 3rd Wimbledon and 2nd US Open, taking his Grand Slam total to double figures.

The only disappointment would be missing out at Roland Garros as he finished runner up to Stanislas Wawrinka. He also won the ATP World Tour Single finals against Roger Federer. Along with this, he also won ITF World Champion award and the ATP Player of the Year award.

O – Ozil

After a disappointing 2014, the new year brought some new records for Ozil to break and make. He set a new EPL record being the first ever player to assist in six consecutive matches and continued the run in style.

During a home game against Bournemouth, Ozil created nine scoring chances in total, the most in a single Premier League game by any player during the season. There’s no doubt about the fact that 2015 remained one of the best years for Ozil as he truly emerged as one of the most important players for Arsenal.

P – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has had an amazing year to say the least. Just in this year, the 26 year old has had 27 goals for Borussia Dortmund with two hat-tricks. Aubameyang also became the first player in Bundesliga history to score in each of his team’s opening six matches of a season.

Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his team mates greet spectators after the Europa League group C soccer match against Qabala at the Backcell Arena in Baku, Azerbaijan, October 22, 2015. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

Q – Qatar World Cup 2022

2015 was a shocking year for football’s governing body, FIFA, as they were engulfed in one scandal after the other. One of the biggest of the lot have been regarding Qatar winning the bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2022 and also about the workers’ conditions to create stadiums and roads have also been questioned.

The International Trade Union Confederation claimed that 1,200 workers died while they were working on real estate and stadium projects related to the World Cup. In addition, Qatar’s hosting bid was allegedly called corrupt as they were thought to have ‘bought’ their way through to the bid. If the evidences are proved against Qatar’s bidding team, hosting rights will be revoked from them.

R – Rugby World Cup

The 2015 Rugby World Cup, was one of the most noteworthy Rugby World Cups as this was the first world cup with no new teams. The World Cup was won by New Zealand, who defeated Australia in the final. Argentina bagged 3rd place.

The match between Japan and South Africa turned out to be hailed as one of the biggest upsets in the history of Rugby as Japan opted not to score a penalty in the dying minutes of the game. It was also the first ever World Cup where not a single Northern Hemisphere team made it beyond the knockout stages. A colourful World Cup with lots to talk about, that’s just the way it should be!

S – Serena Williams

Sure to go down as one of the most influential sportspersons in history, Serena Williams has always inspired and motivated many women and men around the globe. This year was no exceptions as she set excellent records and only went on to prove how important it is to persevere through it all. She logged her 700th career victory becoming the 8th woman to do so.

2015 was a year she won the French and Australian Open along with Wimbledon and Cincinnati Masters tournament. Heading into the US Open, the whole world was looking forward to seeing if she completes the coveted ‘Calendar Slam’, which was last achieved by Steffi Graf in 1988. But, a loss to Roberta Vinci ended the dream. But she broke Steffi Graff’s record to hold the world no.1 ranking for 2 consecutive years. Surely, it’s been a fruitful and memorable year for Serena Williams.

T – Tendulkar’s All Stars

Every cricket fan’s idol, every cricketer’s inspiration and for Indians, he’s also their God. Over the years, Sachin Tendulkar has emerged as a religion of sorts more than anything else and when the Cricket All Stars tournament was announced, the world of cricket was smiling ear to ear.

Retired Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar (L) and Australian Shane Warne pose with the trophy during a press conference in New York on November 5, 2015. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

The All Stars was a T20 exhibition series that consisted of two teams captained by Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne with legendary cricketers in their teams, this tournament was worth the wait and the watch.

U – Ultimate Fighting Championship

2015 saw the 23rd edition of the Ultimate Fighting Championship where the parent company made a whopping 600 million revenue, the highest ever in their history. As of 2015, UFC fighter Ronda Rousey was named the most dominant active athlete by two magazines, showing how much the sport of mixed martial arts and the UFC championship has grown and taken control of the world of sports.

V – Vijender Singh

It’s been a milestone year for Olympic medalist Vijender Singh as he decided to turn pro. The Indian made his professional boxing match debut where he defeated his opponent Sonny Whiting by TKO.

Credits : AFP

He also won the next two games against Dean Gillen and Samet Hyuseinov. However, turning professional ruled him out of the 2016 Olympics as he can no longer represent India.

W – Wawrinka

Stanislas Wawrinka may never forget the 2015 tennis season. He had his fair share of ups and downs as he was unable to retain his Australian Open title but regained his confidence as he won the French Open where he won his 2nd Grand Slam title defeating Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Apart from this, he also won the Chennai Open and Japan Open.

X – Xavi

Regarded highly for his game-play and team ethos, Xavi has played an invaluable role in shaping the modern football story. This year was different for Xavi for an obvious reason. Having played for FC Barcelona for 26 long years, the midfielder bid goodbye to the club and advanced on an endeavour that he saw fit. He signed for Al Sadd, a Qatari club.

After accumulating a staggering collection of silverware with both club and country, Xavi Hernandez will begin a new era in his life. The playmaker will go down as arguably the greatest ever Spanish footballer.

Y – Yasir Shah

Pakistani cricketer Yasir Shah’s year was going to end perfectly until he ‘doped’ out and was provisionally suspended as he tested positive for Chlorthalidone which is banned by WADA and also breaches ICC’s anti-doping code. Shah, one of the best spinners in world cricket will now face a ban of 4 years.

Z – Zaheer Khan

One of the most prized bowlers of the Indian National Cricket team, Zaheer Khan bid goodbye to his international career on 15th October, 2015.

After a stellar career amassing over 300 test wickets, Zaheer will be remembered as one of India’s greatest and most reliable pace bowlers ever. Zaheer ensured his fans haven’t seen the last of him by stating that he will be back for the 9th season of the Indian Premier League.

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