Tuesday, 3 February 2009

My top five...


After watching Federer v Nadal Part XIX last weekend, I got thinking about what the best sporting events I had watched live were. I struggled to cut the list to five, but here they are. Are they in order? I don't think so... because how can you compare one sport to another?

1) 2008 Wimbledon: Men's Singles Final: Nadal beats Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7. Seven hours (including rain breaks) of a to-and-fro battle between the two best players in the world. Tension-filled, finishing in near-darkness, Nadal finally triumphed to end Federer's five-year reign as Wimbledon champion and win his first Grand Slam outside the French Open.

2) 2008 Olympics: 100m Final: Usian Bolt runs 9.69secs and breaks World Record. And he practically walks over the line. Was absolutely staggering a) how fast he was and b) how much faster than everyone else he was. Still can't believe how much he slowed in the last 10m.

3) 2005 Champions League Final: Liverpool beat AC Milan on penalties after 3-3 draw, despite being down 3-0 at half time and looking pretty pathetic at that. In truth, I nearly turned it off... sticking with it only for the first 15 mins of the second half to see how they got on. Glad I stayed with it though - what a comeback. Amazing to watch.

4) 2003 Rugby World Cup Final: England beat Australia 20-17 after extra time on a last-second Jonny Wilkinson drop goal. I know... the less said about it the better. But it was a tension-filled drama to the very end, with two incredibly evenly matched sides... even if it was the wrong result!

5) SuperBowl XLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers beat Arizona Cardinals 27-23 with a touchdown with only 35 seconds remaining. I know it was only a couple of days ago, and I should think about it for a while... but it was an instant classic, if only for the Cardinals fourth quarter comeback from 20-7 down to lead with 2.37 remaining.

Honourable mentions:
  • 2009 Australian Open Men's Singles Final: Nadal beats Federer 7-5, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 in another epic. The standard of tennis was phenomenal at times.
  • SuperBowl XXXVIII: New England Patriots beat Carolina Panthers 32-29 on a 41-yard Adam Viniateri field goal with four seconds remaining. 37 points in an end to end final quarter that could have gone either way.
  • 2008 Olympics: Usian Bolt breaks Michael Johnson's 200m record.
  • 1999 Champions League Final: Man Utd 2-1 Bayern Munich, won with 2 goals in the last minute of the match. Amazing stuff.
  • 2001 UEFA Cup Final: Liverpool 5-4 Deportivo Alaves. After Extra Time. Liverpool led four times Alaves equalised in the last minute of normal time before an own goal in the first half of extra time was enough to win it.
Yeah, you might have guessed, I do love my sport. Probably a controversial list. If I was letting personal support get in the way, I might also have had the 2003 UEFA Cup final (Celtic losing to Porto 3-2) or Scotland's 21-6 Autumn Test win over South Africa in 2002 (a match which I was lucky to be in attendance at!). But there we go. Anyone watched anything better?

7 comments:

Holyrood Patter 3 February 2009 at 11:54  

i was at the test against south africa.
i would include scotland away against france, even as a fervent scotland fan i struggled to find the motivation to even watch what I thought would be a certain drubbing.
and the youtube video of all the scots under the eiffel tower sums up the tartan army.
getting slightly more obscure, irelands cricket win at pakistan was special

George 3 February 2009 at 12:47  

I agree with Malc for the first four definately, as I'm not a watcher of the Superbowl.

Andy Murrays epic win over Richard Gasquet, July 2008 Wimbledon was it Round Four? Simply amazing, thrilling watching.

PJ 3 February 2009 at 13:58  

Steve Redgrave winning his 5th consecutive gold medal in the Sydney Olympics 2000. Absolutely spellbinding!

Stephen Glenn 4 February 2009 at 09:42  

Hmm I have been thinking about this since you mentioned it to me on Sunday. I will have to pull up my 5.

Sam 4 February 2009 at 13:44  

Awesome pub debate-style topic. Also in no particular order:

2008 Wimbledon Men's Singles Final Completely agree, it simply has to be there, for tension, for dramatic story, for simply the talent on display. Also because it finally elevated Nadal to Federer's level of greatness, and gave tennis what every sport needs: a compelling rivalry.

2003 Rugby World Cup Final Glad to see it gets an objective mention! For an England rugby fan(atic) it was simply the best sporting moment of my life. An England team that truly deserved to be crowned champions of the world, with some of the best players in the world receiving their just reward.

1999 AND 2005 Champions League Finals I'm cheating here, but hey it worked for Steven Gerrard! Well neither was a great game, and in neither did the winning team fully deserve it. But for not letting go of a cause, for grabbing a moment by the scruff of its neck & changing the course of an event, step forward Teddy Sheringham, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, Steven Gerrard and Manuel Mejuto González (the ref who obviously wished he was at Swan Lake).

2005 Ashes Series So many moments from this momentous series, from the 20/20 where we won by something like 100 runs! to the farcical rain-ended finale in the Fifth Test. But it had virtually every story, individual brilliance & team strength, that makes sport special. And we beat Australia!

Lance Armstrong: any time the man got on a bike Surely no other athlete has mentally dominated his chosen profession like Armstrong? His will to win makes him fearsome in the minds of his opponents & that made him almost invincible for 7 years. Some examples: in 2003 escaping Beloki's crash he showed he is one hell of a bike rider; in 2001 Armstrong gave his greatest rival Jan Ullrich "The Look": basically asking him "are you good enough to follow me? Armstrong went; Ullrich didn't. 7 years of record-breaking success in the hardest, most physically and psychologically demanding sporting event in the world.

Honourable mention: November 2002 England v New Zealand Partly because I was there at Twickenham, mostly because it showed England they could beat the best in the world & set them up to go to the Southern Hemisphere in 2003 & beat the Tri-Nations on their own turf.

Sam 4 February 2009 at 23:00  

Ok clearly that last one was because I was there. But beating New Zealand was incredible!

Malc 5 February 2009 at 10:00  

In response to comments,

HP - I was going for the dramatic, the greatest global sporting events that I'd seen. Though I could certainly make the case that beating France in Paris could make the cut. But then, I guess if I was of that persuasion, I could argue England beating Germany 5-1 should be there too...

George - Tennis isn't even one of my top five sports, but Murray's fightback in that match was also impressive. Maybe the level of tennis wasn't quite the Federer-Nadal level though.

PJ - Yep, I did consider it, but then I forgot it. It would have gone in the "honourable mentions" bit. I remember staying up til like 2am just to watch an 8 minute race. Mad. And it was pretty close!

And Sam - well... I might not have enjoyed the result of the RWC final, but the match itself was tense and exciting. I was gutted it finished in extra time. I so wanted to see a rugby-style penalty shoot-out! Since I never watched any cycling, I can't include Lance (though yes, an incredible man and an incredible feat). And yeah, I guess the Ashes was perhaps worth a mention too.

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