Olympic glory, Murray magic, City's big finish and the miracle at Medinah - what a year!
Every sporting year has its highs and lows - moments we will always remember and treasure and others that are best forgotten. Here is a look back at the best and worst of 2012.
PICK your favourite from the host nation’s most successful Olympic day in over a century, as two rowing golds and victory for the women’s cycling pursuit team paved the way for an astonishing night in the Olympic stadium.
Jessica Ennis shrugged off the enormous weight of expectation to blaze to victory in the heptathlon before Greg Rutherford came from nowhere to snatch gold in the men’s long jump.
Then it was left to Mo Farah to round off an unforgettable evening by striding to 10,000 metres victory.
CITY WIN THE LEAGUE
AS Premier League climaxes go, the drama was almost unsurpassable.
Seeking their first domestic crown in 44 years, Manchester City trailed QPR 2-1 heading into injury time on the final day and looked set to hand the title back to the red side of the city.
But in scarcely believable scenes at the Etihad Stadium, first Edin Dzeko hit an equaliser then there was still time for Sergio Aguero to hit a winner and seal City’s title.
SOME years of quiet progress in the much mocked field of British women’s tennis finally paid dividends in October, when 20-year-old Heather Watson won the Japan Open title to become the first British winner of a WTA title since Sara Gomer 24 years earlier.
Watson fought off four match points to clinch a 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 win over Chang Kai-chen of Taiwan three weeks after team-mate Laura Robson had narrowly missed out in China.
WHETHER it was the punch that floored reigning world champion Ren Cancan and virtually guaranteed gold for British flyweight Nicola Adams or the tumultuous noise which pursued the march of Ireland’s Katie Taylor all the way to Olympic gold, the inaugural Olympic women’s boxing tournament proved a roaring success and led to calls for the quota of women’s weight divisions to be at least doubled for 2016.
GREAT Britain finally claimed its first Tour de France winner and we could hardly have picked a more likeable and down-to-earth athlete to do it.
Bradley Wiggins had even won over plenty of French fans by the time he pedalled into Paris to toast his historic success.
Back home, a new generation of cycling fans rejoiced – and would do so again a matter of weeks later when Wiggins won Olympic gold in the time trial.
PICKING an individual highlight from the Paralympics is almost impossible, given the sheer scope of Great Britain’s achievements in 2012.
Ellie Simmonds’ two golds in the pool, Sarah Storey’s all-conquering cycling campaign and Jonnie Peacock’s storming T44 men’s 100 metres triumph all deserved the headlines but the real highlight was the Paralympics itself, which seized its moment in the spotlight to leave a treasure trove of indelible memories.
IT took 76 years but when it came it was worth the wait.
Andy Murray picked himself up from losing the Wimbledon final to Roger Federer and finally broke his grand slam duck in style at the US Open, holding off a determined fightback by the then world number one Novak Djokovic to triumph 7-6 (12-10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 in a match that kept much of Britain up past midnight.
IT was going to take something special for the Ryder Cup to hit the same heights as the London Olympics but that is exactly what happened at Medinah, as Europe battled back from 10-6 down to win by a point and secure a triumph made all the more poignant by last year’s death of Ryder Cup legend Seve Ballesteros.
Martin Kaymer holed the vital putt to spark the emotional celebrations.
FORGET all the controversy that would dog the rest of his year. Kevin Pietersen’s 151 on the third day of the second test against Sri Lanka in Colombo was as good a Test century as you are ever likely to see.
Pietersen’s 29th ton in all matches for England took him past the mark set by Graham Gooch – and proved once again that on his day there are few batsmen on the planet who can surpass him.
IN a routine friendly which was in danger of petering out in its usual rash of substitutions, England’s Premier League stars were left as admiring spectators as Sweden’s striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic stole the show in Stockholm.
He capped his four-goal show with a 30-yard, volleyed bicycle kick which flew into the top corner of the net and left players and pundits worldwide hailing it as the best goal they had ever seen.
Lance the dope, a rafce in the ring and spectre of racism hangs over football
JOHN Terry’s fine and ban by the Football Association for racist comments towards Anton Ferdinand sent football to a new low in 2012.
Having only recently emerged from the Luis Suarez affair, the game languished for the rest of the year, with allegations of abuse levelled at England Under-21 players in Serbia and accusations – later dismissed – against referee Mark Clattenburg.
KEVIN Pietersen was dropped for the Third Test against South Africa after he was accused of sending text messages to members of the South African team which referred to captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower.
BOXING was dragged into the gutter by a heavyweight farce involving David Haye and Dereck Chisora.
The pair met in London under the auspices of the Luxembourg Boxing Federation after they had been banned by the British Boxing Board of Control for a press conference brawl. Haye won the fight by fifth-round stoppage.
RONNIE O’Sullivan’s personal demons finally caught up with him when he announced he was withdrawing from the remainder of the 2012-13 season, amid doubts that the game’s most talented player will ever return to the sport.
THE Olympic badminton competition in London descended into farce as four doubles teams were disqualified for not trying.
Teams from opposing qualifying pools appeared to attempt to contrive defeat in order to go through as runners-up and thus earn easier semi-final matches. Two teams from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia were banned.
PARALYMPIC cyclist Cundy turned the air blue after he was disqualified from the C4/5 Men’s 1km time trial, in which he was a heavy favourite, after slipping out of the starting blocks at the start. Cundy later apologised, although he insisted he still refused to accept the decision.
IDOWU had long been seen as one of Great Britain’s best bets for track and field gold at the London Olympics but his build-up was marred by an injury mystery, in which he consistently failed to confirm his fitness levels.
Fears were realised when Idowu, a former world champion and silver medallist in Beijing, failed to make it past the qualification stage.
NO story hit elite sport harder in 2012 than the US Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to issue Armstrong with a lifetime ban for taking banned substances dating back to 1996. Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, followed suit by announcing they would strip the American of all seven of his Tour de France titles.
THE result of England’s November international against Australia at Twickenham paled into insignificance when compared to the uproar generated by the RFU’s decision to send the national team out to play in a brand new purple kit.
LEWIS Hamilton’s long and bright relationship with the McLaren Formula One team, which started at the age of 13 and was considered one of the most mutually loyal in the sport, ended in acrimony when, after months of speculation, it was announced Hamilton would be joining Mercedes in 2013.