CHARLES’S TOP 10 SPORTING MOMENTS
WRITTEN BY CHARLES ODUGBESAN
The general consensus seems to be that 2017 wasn’t the best of years. But as we approach the festive season, one thing we can all agree on this is that over the last 12 months, sport was the gift that kept on giving! So without further delay, let’s have a rundown of our Top 10 sporting moments of 2017.
10. BARCELONA TO PARIS…ONE WAY
Financial flexing never before seen. On August 3rd, Paris St Germain completed the signing of Neymar Jr from Barcelona Football Club for €222 million (£200m) breaking the previous transfer world record of Manchester United who signed Paul Pogba for €105 million the previous summer!
How many of us could go 18 years without winning and still have the hunger and motivation to persist? Well for Sergio Garcia, his appearance at the Masters in early April certainly proved to be the case! After a host of runner up and top ten finishes throughout his career, Garcia finally came out on top seeing off Justin Rose in a thrilling playoff to secure his first major and the famous green jacket. No more will he be considered ‘Always the bridesmaid and never the bride!’
8. BACK ON TOP
After being denied a third Driver’s Championship in a row by retired ex-teammate Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton returned to the summit in dominant fashion taking 11 pole positions and 9 wins from the 20 race calendar. He sealed his fate with a 9th place finish at the Mexican Grand Prix (Round 18). 2017 was Hamilton’s 4th overall World title which draws him level with his arch rival Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost. Fangio (5) and Schumacher (7) are the remaining targets for Lewis.
7. THE COMEBACK OF COMEBACKS
I remember watching this game. I genuinely went to bed after watching the Atlanta Falcons go up 28-3 against the New England Patriots some way into the third quarter. But after a while something told me to turn the game back on. Sure enough the game wasn’t over. I managed to catch the back end of Tom Brady and the Patriots overcoming the largest comeback in Super Bowl History with an overtime touchdown. The Edelman catch, Brady’s tunnel vision and the total collapse of Atlanta nerve culminated in an amazing night of sport.
The story of the 2016/2017 in the NBA was the ‘divorce’ of the Oklahoma City Thunder superstars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. KD left Russ to join the eventual Champion Golden State Warriors. But back in OKC, Westbrook, with a chip on his shoulder, would also have a season to remember. He averaged double figures in points, rebounds and assists (better known as a triple double) across the 82 game NBA season – a feat not seen since Oscar Robertson did it over 50 years ago!
Oscar recorded 41 triple doubles in total in the 1961/62 season and on April 9th this year against the Denver Nuggets, Westbrook recorded a record breaking 42nd. He would go on to win MVP at the end of the season.
5. HIGH FIVE
The most recent addition to our list. The latest in the saga between arguably the 2 greatest ever footballers. Earlier this month Cristiano Ronaldo won his 5th Ballon D’or, levelling things up between himself and Lionel Messi. But whichever side you choose to pick, know that we are truly blessed to be able to witness both their careers in full. The last 10 Ballon D’ors have been split between Lionel and Cristiano and rightly so. Everyone else needs to DO BETTER. Even into their 30’s, these two men are dominant presences in the sport. And now CR7 has ensured they are equal and opposite forces!
Let’s see what we have here. One half of the most dominant sister act in all of sports. The most successful Grand Slam Champion in tennis today… yes including the men’s game… yes even Federer! She is one shy of the all time Grand Slam record of 24 set by Margaret Court. This here is Serena Williams in January winning her 7th Australian Open (an open record) and her 23rd Grand Slam in total after beating sister Venus in the final.
FUN FACT: Serena Williams was already around 6 weeks pregnant when she decided to go ahead and compete at the Australian Open. And then she won it. That’s why she’s on the list!
3. CHANGING OF THE GUARD
April 29th. Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko. The young lion taking on the old leader of the pride. This match proved to be one of the most thrilling fights the Heavyweight division has seen in years. Physical and mental warfare which had all the thrills, knockdowns and momentum swings that lands itself at number 3 on our list. In the end it was Joshua who triumphed with an 11th round TKO at Wembley Stadium. After seeing Klitschko govern heavyweight boxing for the best part of a decade, the fight not only proved to be his last, but a symbolic passing of the torch to Anthony Joshua as the 28 year old looks to reign supreme.
2. THE END
Hard to believe that Usain Bolt will no longer be around to exhilarate. It was almost heart breaking to learn that the World Championships this summer in London was the last time we were to see Bolt on track. But nevertheless the stage was set for another show boating, long striding, once in a lifetime outing from the Jamaican. However, chinks in his armour were evident and his powers were fading. Perhaps he should have called it quits after the 2016 Rio Olympics. Perhaps he should have left while he was unbeaten. Alas, he persevered and coming in at our number 2 spot is the only sad moment in our list. The fastest man ever could only manage 3rd place in the 100m final and in his last ever race he pulled up with a hamstring injury running the anchor leg of the 4x100m relay for Jamaica, unable to finish. Not the swansong performance that he or the public could have imagined at all.
Now this is a swansong performance! The most highly publicised and anticipated fight since 2015 happened on August 26th. Pound for pound, King Floyd Mayweather had been coaxed into one final bout with the golden boy of the UFC – two division Champion Conor Macgregor. MMA fans were elated, boxing purists outraged and us ‘good old casual fight fans’ were more than intrigued. How would Macgregor cope with crossing over to the boxing world? Should we even be taking this seriously? How quickly would Mayweather end the fight? In fact… what if he lost? His perfect record tarnished by a man without a single professional fight?
Even the press conferences could not be missed. With each exchange of theatrics and profanities and the fight itself growing nearer by the day, the anticipation grew. At first we scoffed at the prospect of a fight. But the more they spoke the more drawn we were. The old maestro and the hot new loudmouth were going to throw the biggest party of the year. The official numbers reveal that MayMac was the second richest and viewed fight in history just losing out to Mayweather vs Pacquiao and that Mayweather made over $300,000,000 from the bout whilst Conor himself made upwards of $100,000,000.
The fight itself didn’t disappoint. Macgregor gave a fair account of himself landing punches and keeping Mayweather honest. But the latter’s superior skill and conditioning became telling in the later rounds and the fight was stopped in the tenth round handing Mayweather a TKO victory. Rocky Marciano had been eclipsed. Our number 1 sporting moment of 2017 goes to the 50-0, Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather.