Time to play the ABC game. Sports editor Hayden Meikle
looks back on the year, with an A to Z of sport in 2012.
A is for Andy Murray. The Scottish tennis hard-luck
story became the British tennis champion when he broke one of
sport's greatest droughts. Murray's win in the US Open was a
first grand slam singles title for a British male in 76
B is for Bubba Watson. I could just say his first name
100 times. Bubba, Bubba, Bubba, Bub . . er, sorry. B is also
for Brilliant, which is not nearly powerful enough to
describe Bubba's incredible hook shot out of the trees on his
way to winning the Masters.
C is for Chiefs. A great story - coming from nowhere
to win the Super 15. But it was bittersweet for the
Highlanders and Hurricanes, left in the dwindling group of
New Zealand franchises without a title. A great year for
Waikato-Bay of Plenty sport also featured the Magic winning
netball's ANZ Championship.
D is for Deaths. Losses in the sports world in 2012
included three All Black captains (Wilson Whineray, Fred
Allen and Jock Hobbs), All Black great Bob Scott, American
tennis star Margaret Osborne duPont, boxing stalwarts Bert
Sugar, Angelo Dundee and Emanuel Steward, baseball players'
association servant Marvin Miller, and recent NFL player
Junior Seau, whose suicide highlighted the issue of that
sport's deleterious effects on the brain.
E is for Excitement with a big old fat capital E. That
summed up the incredible English Premier League season, which
ended with Manchester City winning a first title since 1968
with a late, late, late winner against QPR.
F is for Frankel. The superlative British racehorse
was retired after winning the Champions Stakes at Ascot,
finishing his flawless career with 14 wins from 14 starts.
G is for Gates. Two of the best this year were
Bountygate (NFL players paid to inflict injuries on
opponents) and Taylorgate (Ross Taylor demoted as Black Caps
captain and New Zealand cricket community goes bananas).
H is for Hillsborough. The families of the victims who
died thanks to police and football administration
incompetence in 1989 finally got the truth. Justice for the
I is for Ibrahimovic. The big, enigmatic Swede banged
in four goals against England. One, from a bicycle kick well
outside the box, has been labelled the goal of the century.
J is for Jaw-dropping. They reckon the Richie McCaw
book has sold 120,000 copies worldwide, far and away a record
for the sport.
K is for Ko, our own little Lydia. The golfing phenom
stunned the sport in 2012 by winning a professional
tournament (at 14) and an LPGA tournament (at 15). She also
became the first New Zealand woman to win the 112-year-old US
amateur championship, and took individual honours by eight
shots at the world teams event in Turkey.
L is for LeBron. No need for his second name. The
greatest basketballer on the planet finally got his ring,
winning the NBA title with the Miami Heat. He also helped the
latest Dream Team win gold in London. Hey, hey, LBJ, you are
a champion today.
M is for Mobot, the celebration performed by British
runner Mo Farah after claiming the 5000m-10,000m Olympic
double. Everyone did the Mobot, even Usain Bolt.
N is for NHL. There may not be any action in the
National Hockey League this season, because of strike action,
and my Meikle relatives in Canada are NOT happy about that. N
is also for New York Giants, who were led to another Super
Bowl win by Eli Manning.
O is for Ostapchuk. Drug cheat. You're a four-letter
word in New Zealand, Nadzeya.
P is for Pup. Michael Clarke has had quite the year,
with a triple century and three doubles. Didn't score a run
against the Black Caps, though.
Q is for Quip. This was from London mayor Boris
Johnson at the Rugby World Cup draw: ''I am proud to tell you
it was here in London in 1871 that a group of burly,
moustachioed, mildly inebriated Victorians met at a pub and
decided they'd had enough of the namby-pamby pussyfooting
around of the spheroid fetishists of Association Football.''
R is for Ryder Cup. The Miracle at Medinah, where the
Europeans charged back on the final day to win, was sport at
its finest. Seve would have loved it.
S is for Scandal. We had Dunedin athletics stalwart
Raylene Bates hung out to dry by Dave Currie for not ticking
the box on Valerie's form in London. Eight badminton players
kicked out of the Olympic doubles for losing on purpose.
Sickening events at Penn State University. The tragic case of
the NFL player who murdered his partner then killed himself
at the football stadium. But numero uno this year, by quite a
stretch, was Lance Armstrong being stripped of his Tour de
France titles. Sad for those of us who wanted to believe it
T is for Twitter. A magnificent source for news and
views, and an unparalleled platform for athletes to get into
trouble. Quade Cooper described the Wallaby environment as
''toxic''. David Campese showed his misogynist side by asking
why a ''girl'' was writing about rugby. Ashley Cole called
the Football Association a ''bunch of twats''. And two
Olympians were expelled: Swiss footballer Michel Morganella
referred to South Koreans as a ''bunch of mongoloids'', and
Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou said, ''With so many
Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting
U is for Uneasy. That's how many of us were feeling
when we saw the Melbourne Storm beat the Canterbury Bulldogs
in the NRL grand final. The memory of the salary cap rort is
V is for Vettel, the youngest triple champion in
Formula One history. Sehr gut.
W is for Wiggins, first name Bradley. The cyclist with
the magnificent sideburns became the first Briton to win the
Tour de France. Also claimed an Olympic gold, and the coveted
BBC sports personality of the year award.
X is for Xin Xin. Tough year for the young Chinese
swimmer. Failed to medal in London, and finds herself used as
a gap-filler for notoriously difficult X in a New Zealand
newspaper's A to Z.
Y is for Yes, which I suspect will soon be the answer
to this question: Is Lionel Messi the greatest footballer of
Z is for Zowsers, the sound you release when Thomas
Abercrombie goes up for a dunk. Abercrombie and the Breakers
celebrated back-to-back titles in the Australian league, and
a threepeat is a definite show.