How Novak Djokovic, Erling Haaland, Simone Biles, Jon Rahm & Tom Aspinall rocked world - Sports review of the year



How Novak Djokovic, Erling Haaland, Simone Biles,  Jon Rahm & Tom Aspinall rocked world  - Sports review of the year

What’s in a word? More than most imagine. The official Oxford Dictionary word of 2023 has been unearthed, dusted down and declared as “rizz”. Hewn from Generation Z popularity, it apparently derives from the more established “charisma” and is defined as “style, charm or attractiveness” emanating from the world of romance. 

If this perhaps sounds an apt choice in an era of ever-shortening attention spans, there remains no short cut to success in the ongoing raw, cutting and seductive romanticism of professional sport, where words and wonders of the world are not merely invented to get down with the latest trends. 
Short-termism continues to be given short shrift among those chasing their own unique form of divinity.

As a millennial man, the impassioned tennis new romantic Novak Djokovic – boasting racket skills dripping with natural charisma in his rise to three more glorious Grand Slam majors this year – has always been in it for the long haul. 

Djokovic showed the sporting world that there remains no substitute for experience, dedication and unbendable self-belief in having the final word in settling the debate about who is the most prolific tennis champion of all time.

Not to be outdone, the Merriam-Webster dictionary opted for “authentic” as its word of year in being "true to one's own personality, spirit, or character".

Attributes which Djokovic shared with Manchester City’s treble winners, South Africa’s rugby union world champions, cycling juggernaut Jonas Vingegaard negotiating the hellish hills and descents of the Tour de France’s ultimate sporting stress test and in the remarkable recovery powers of Simone Biles mastering mind over matter in gymnastics. 

The word on the street suggested there was plenty of athletic authenticity scattered all around us and large dollops of character to be found elsewhere over another compulsive 12 months of perpetual motion, as several mind-blowing labour of loves catapulted some into the realm of sporting mythology. 

Opposites continue to attract in sport as the animal instincts of Springboks, Pumas, Eagles, Lionesses and GOATs all devoured our attention and admiration in the ongoing pursuit of happiness.
But none more so than the serial winning machine from Serbia.
Tears flow as Djokovic clinches 10th Australian Open title and 22nd Grand Slam



The outstanding solo achiever of the year in sport was arguably the timeless Djokovic, who at the age of 36 just seems to be getting warmed up. 

Either to extend his standing as the greatest winning machine in tennis history, or helping to develop the sport in Serbia due to his popularity as a national treasure. Whatever he does, the highest office seems fitting for a man with a unique mandate for regeneration. 

Nothing seems beyond such a warrior of winning ways, who knows how to get the job done any which way but loose. 

He began his year by carting off the Australian Open in January with a 6-3 7-6 7-6 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas, his astonishing 10th title in Melbourne and a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam triumph.

With Rafael Nadal injured for the French Open in June, the path was clear for Djokovic to conquer Roland Garros for a third time with a 7-6 6-3 7-5 dismissal of Casper Ruud. 

A seasonal slam seemed likely when he reached the Wimbledon final in early July, but an epic joust with Carlos Alcaraz was the only minor blip on the Djokovic report card as he lost 6-1 6-7 1-6 6-3 4-6 to the fast-moving Spaniard, a player 15 years his junior. 

He quickly regrouped with an avenging 5-7 7-6 7-6 win over Alcaraz in the Cincinnati Open final – a brutal three-set match that ran for an astonishing three hours and 49 minutes – the perfect palate cleanser for his run to the US Open trophy later in August with a 6-3 7-6 6-3 victory over Daniil Medvedev.

Highlights: Djokovic wins record-breaking seventh ATP Finals title


Djokovic – who also enjoyed poignant triumphs at the Adelaide International and Paris Masters – ended the season as the undisputed world No. 1 for a record-extending eighth time, endorsing his obvious supremacy with a dominant 6-3, 6-3 win over Jannik Sinner at the ATP finals in Turin. 

Who knows what he will achieve in 2024, but it is difficult to see the wheels coming off any time soon if he can maintain such an unshakeable intensity of fitness and focus. 

"I actually interviewed him after the final in Turin and I said to him, ‘Look, you're 36 years of age and to me it seems you're playing better than ever. What does it feel like to you?’ And he very much agreed that he felt that this was the best tennis he's ever played," former world No. 4 Tim Henman told Eurosport

“And I think that is just absolutely staggering. I think he deserves so much credit in so many areas, not only being able to perform and move at his age when it's surely not getting any easier, but still to have the hunger and desire and motivation to keep winning."

An assault on the men’s singles title at the Olympic Games would seem ripe for his attention to detail in adding a golden hue to his Grand Slam silver salver. 

He holds all the major records in the sport, including 98 singles titles and 40 Masters, while spending 403 weeks and counting as world No. 1 over the past 13 years. 

The GOAT debate will rage for all time in tennis with some preferring Nadal’s dominance on clay and others holding up Roger Federer’s balletic grace across every surface, but the business of winning big surely belongs firmly to Djokovic. 

He only needs one more to usurp Margaret Court as the most prolific Grand Slam singles winner of all time over the men’s and women’s games, a record that will probably not be touched for the rest of time. 
Djokovic even cited the words of NBA icon Kobe Bryant during the French Open in response to his detractors.

“As Kobe used to say, it’s a great quote: ‘Haters are a good problem to have. Nobody hates the good ones. They hate the great ones.’
"Yes, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but at least I was authentic, I was being myself." 



In the women’s game, Iga Swiatek emulated the 22-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams by becoming the first player to win successive WTA Player of the Year awards. 

The Polish player claimed a third French Open, the China Open and the WTA Finals in November to end the year as world No. 1. 

Swiatek v Muchova - Highlights from epic French Open final


"It was certainly a demanding season that taught me a lot, and which makes me even more proud. This year-end result exceeded all my expectations," Swiatek told Eurosport in Poland.

Aryna Sabalenka claimed her first Grand Slam title with a 4–6 6–3 6–4 win over Elena Rybakina in the Australian Open final. 
She was not the only one to revel in a maiden major as the unseeded Marketa Vondrousova overcame Ons Jabeur in the Wimbledon final 6–4 6–4 to snare a first trophy in six years. 

Which is not a bad one to choose. 

There was yet room for further renewal as American teenager Coco Gauff enjoyed a 2-6 6-3 6-2 comeback success over Sabalenka in the US Open final to confirm her arrival as a first-time Grand Slam champion. 



LeBron James has seen it and done it all in basketball. Nothing in his 20-year career has been a leap of faith among a brutal and brutish land of giants representing the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers. 

At the age of 38, the double Olympic gold-medal winning playmaker and powerhouse forward is suddenly the oldest, boldest and goldest player among America’s elite. 

James overtook Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in February as the all-time leading scorer in NBA history with his incredible 38,388th career point in a 133-130 defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

Abdul-Jabbar had set the record in April 1984, and it was fitting his fellow Laker was on hand to present the match ball to LeBron during the fixture. 

James also inevitably proceeded to become the first player to reach 39,000 career points in the 131-99 win over Utah Jazz in November. 

He toppled Abdul-Jabbar's record of 66,300 minutes against Philadelphia 76ers later in the month to become the most prolific player in basketball history in terms of NBA games playing during the regular season and play-off matches.

“There’s been so many great players that came across this league since the beginning of time, and so many great scorers,” said James

“To be able to accomplish something that’s the first of anything, I think that’s always pretty cool. It’s a wild moment, that’s for sure.”


“Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser,” is a quote often attributed to Vince Lombardi, the celebrated Green Bay Packers coach and double Super Bowl-winning coach from the 1960s. “But show me a gracious loser, and I’ll show you someone who will always be a winner.”

These are the words of epic proportions that have been trotted out seemingly since time began in the world of sport, but it was perhaps fitting with the Lombardi Trophy on the line at Super Bowl LVII in Arizona in February. 

With the Kansas City Chiefs trailing the Philadelphia Eagles 27-21 in the final quarter, the Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes managed to overcome the impact of a restrictive ankle injury to steer his side to a second Super Bowl victory inside four years. 

Magical Mahomes after 2nd Super Bowl win: 'I'm going to Disneyland now!'


A dramatic 38-35 win over the Eagles would never have been possible without Mahomes’ willingness to push through the pain barrier amid such untimely misfortune. 

Trailing 24-14 at half-time, Mahomes slammed his helmet into the deck, clearly in frustration with his ankle pain, before returning with serious intent to lead his side back into the light. 

He set up two touchdowns in the fourth quarter before playing provider for Harrison Butker to convert the match-winning field goal.

Mahomes was named the Super Bowl’s MVP for a second time to go with his NFL MVP for his body of work over the season. 

Yet Mahomes perhaps also had to lose the Super Bowl in 2021 – with the Chiefs outclassed 31-9 by Tampa Bay Buccaneers – to discover the true meaning of winning and perhaps Lombardi’s ultimate message about learning to accept failure. 

"I told you all this week there was nothing going to keep me off this football field,” he told reporters

"It's the Super Bowl, you can worry about getting healthy in the off-season.

"I fought through, and we were able to win."



There was a blue moon rising over Istanbul in June as Manchester City’s pursuit of the promised land in football finally concluded with the club’s first totemic victory in the UEFA Champions League. 

A narrow 1-0 win over combative Italian opponents Inter Milan in the final was completed after Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side had lifted the English Premier League and FA Cup in a campaign of unrivalled domestic and continental bliss. 

Losing five games over the season, City secured a third straight Premier League title by five points with their coronation confirmed after nearest challengers Arsenal lost 1-0 at Nottingham Forest in May. 

They secured the FA Cup with a 2-1 triumph over local foes Manchester United at Wembley in the first week of June courtesy of a double from İlkay Gundogan, who also scored the fastest goal in final history after just 12 seconds.

Despite losing the exceptional Belgian playmaker Kevin De Bruyne to injury in the first half of the Champions League final, City had enough talent in their midst as Rodri scored the winner midway through the second half against Inter a week later. 

It is only the second treble of Premier League, FA Cup and European Cup achieved by an English club after United’s celebrated 1999 success under Sir Alex Ferguson, an Alexander who never wept because there were no more worlds to conquer.

The technically superior Rodri was also named the player of the tournament by UEFA, but without the intervention of the Haaland of God, such a feat would never have been possible. 

Like some sort of menacing Norseman, the remarkable Norwegian marksman helped himself to an incredible 52 goals in 53 games for City, becoming the first player to win the Premier League’s young player and player of the season gong in the same year. 

Haaland’s 12 goals saw him finish the UEFA Champions League top scorer for the second time before the age of 23 as he joined Lionel Messi as the only other man to achieve the feat. 

UEFA Super Cup Highlights: Man City beat Sevilla on penalties after 1-1 draw
UEFA Super Cup Highlights: Man City beat Sevilla on penalties after 1-1 draw


"In my wildest dreams, I would never think of this," said Haaland. "After a couple of days when this settles a bit and this feeling of winning this trophy, I will want to do it again for sure.”

While City’s win over Inter was historic in lifting only their second continental trophy after the 1970s European Cup Winners’ Cup, their greatest performance of the season was reserved for the semi-finals when they completed a 4-0 rout of 14-time European champions Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium. 

It was the perfect precursor to the final as City produced a gorgeous tapestry of woven football to make their intentions crystal clear before their globe-trotting dreams crystalised in a city that bridges Europe and Asia. 

The UEFA Super Cup was added to their collection in August with a 5-4 win on penalties over Europa League winners Sevilla after a 1-1 draw in Athens. 

And the finest year in City's 129-year history ended in Saudi Arabia with a 4-0 filleting of Fluminense in the Club World Cup final in Jeddah courtesy of two from Julian Alverez – his first inside a minute the fastest final goal in the competition's history – bookending finishes from Phil Foden and a Nino own goal.

"It's a beautiful, beautiful day," said Guardiola after claiming every trophy in the world game since his arrival from Bayern Munich in 2016. 

"We had the feeling we would close the chapter, we won all the titles, there’s nothing else to win. I had a feeling the job was done, it was over. 
"Now it's Christmas time, we buy another book and start to write it again. The last eight years, it's over."

From Manchester to Jeddah via London, Istanbul and Athens, the journey has also been a 25-year odyssey for a club who were toiling in the third tier of English football in 1999. Changed days. 

All that is left to conquer for City seems to be a blue moon.


The Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo duopoly has dominated the world game and football awards for the past 15 years, but the curtain was probably brought down on their gilded rivalry in 2023. 

After inspiring Argentina to lift the FIFA World Cup at the end of 2022, Messi was recognised for his heroic performances in Qatar in leading La Albiceleste to their first triumph since Diego Maradona’s 1986 Mexico magic by being rewarded with the Ballon d’Or for a record eighth time. 

After departing Paris Saint-Germain for Inter Miami in the summer, it felt like a lifetime achievement for completing an incomparable career opus in what is likely to be his final World Cup appearance.

With Ronaldo representing Al-Nassr in the Saudi Pro League, it feels like the end of an era after the pair won 10 straight Ballon d’Or gongs between 2008 and 2017 in their preening pomp at Barcelona and Real Madrid. 

That was before these much-vaunted voyagers extended the natural lifespan of a footballer heading for the traditional long grass of their late 30s.

'Changed the history of football' - Ronaldo speaks on legendary rivalry with Messi


“Those who like Cristiano Ronaldo, don't have to hate Messi and vice versa,” said the Portugal captain. 

"We've done well, we have changed the history of football. We are respected all over the world, that's the most important thing.
"He's followed his path and I have followed mine, regardless of playing outside of Europe. From what I've seen, he's been doing well and so have I.
"The legacy lives on, but I don't see the rivalry like that. We shared the stage many times, it was 15 years. 

“I'm not saying we're friends, I've never had dinner with him, but we're professional colleagues and we respect each other."

The 36-year-old Leo scored twice in the final to end all finals against France in December 2022 that finished 3-3 after extra-time, scored in the penalty shoot-out and was named player of the match.

He also hit two in the group stage and chipped in goals against Australia, the Netherlands and Croatia in the knockout rounds. 

Messi gets warm welcome from Inter Miami team-mates after Ballon d'Or win


In a Ligue 1 title-winning season for PSG, he played 41 matches during the 2022/23 season, plundering 21 goals and providing 20 assists. The extraordinary list of records feel endless. 

"I couldn't imagine having the career that I've had. Everything that I've achieved," said Messi.

“The fortune I've had playing for the best team in the world, the best team in history. It's nice to win these individual trophies.

"To win the Copa America and then the World Cup, to get it done is amazing.”



If Messi is in the sunset of his sweltering career, Jude Bellingham could be held up as the future. 

In truth, the elegant playmaker represents the here and now for Real Madrid and England, already posting staggering numbers in the formative years of his career. 

A £114m switch from Borussia Dortmund to Los Blancos in the summer was significant, but did not hint at what was to come for Carlo Ancelotti's side. 

The 20-year-old midfielder is already the finished article, weighing in with a sweltering 17 goals so far this season, with his 13 in La Liga seeing him top Spain’s scoring charts at Christmas. 

Bellingham 'fairytale start' at Real continues with late winner against Union Berlin


He also became the first Real Madrid player to net in his first four European games in the 4-2 win over Napoli at the Bernabeu in November. 

Having picked up the Golden Boy award at Messi’s crowning glory, what price a Bellingham Ballon d’Or in 2024?

“I don't think anybody could have imagined his adaptation to this style of football, to this club," said Ancelotti.

"He surprises every day, in every game. Not just us, he's surprising everybody. [Bellingham] is a gift for football.

“His coach and his team-mates are delighted with him, and the fans are delighted with him, but everybody is delighted to see a player with this potential and this positive image."



Buoyed by their European Championship triumph at Wembley in 2022, England women's team travelled to Australia and New Zealand in July armed with serious aspirations of becoming world champions for the first time. 

Ranked among the pre-tournament favourites for the ninth staging of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Sarina Wiegman’s side did not disappoint as they emerged from the group stage with victories over Haiti (1-0), Denmark (1-0) and China (6-1) as unbeaten Group D winners.

A nerve-shredding 4-2 win over Nigeria on penalties in Brisbane after a tense 0-0 draw was followed by a 2-1 triumph over Colombia before tournament hosts Australia were eclipsed 3-1 in the semi-finals. 

Ella Toone of England celebrates after scoring her team's first goal during the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Semi Final match between Australia and England
Image credit: Getty Images


Amid the dreams of Aussie soccer fans in Sydney, goals from Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo carried England to the final with home captain Sam Kerr's equaliser failing to stave off a sense of deflation for the hosts.

“We just feel really proud that they’ve got behind us and we’ve changed the way women’s football is seen in Australia,” said Kerr. “It’s been amazing. A big thank you.”

England expects as much as Australia – as it has historically always done when the national team plays such international events – but it was Spain who became the first European winners of the women’s game biggest prize courtesy of a 1-0 win over England in the final. 

Olga Carmona scored the winning goal for Spain in the final and was promptly named player of the match, but it was the exuberant Barcelona midfielder Aitana Bonmatí who secured the Golden Ball as player of the tournament before collecting the women’s Ballon d’Or for the year. 

"It is difficult to improve on this. It has honestly been a unique year," said Bonmati. 

"If anyone had said to me when I was little that I would play at the Camp Nou, win a World Cup, two Champions Leagues, a Ballon d'Or, a UEFA prize, extraordinary things have happened for me lately."
‘This past year has been incredible’ - Ballon d'Or Feminin winner Bonmati


For England, such a narrow defeat was agonising coming against a side they had defeated 2-1 in the last eight during their run to European title success last year. 
Goalkeeper Mary Earps earned the Golden Glove award for the tournament’s best goalkeeper, and illustrated her value to the team by halting a penalty from Jennifer Hermoso in the final. 
A record 1,997,824 fans watched 64 matches compared to the 1,353,506 who witnessed 52 games in Canada in 2015 and the 1,131,312 who attended 52 fixtures at the 2019 tournament in France. 
“This tournament has broken records,” said England head coach Wiegman. “We received such a warm welcome, everything was so well organised, the people here were so nice to us and tried to facilitate us the best way they could, and we felt that.
“The crowds were very exciting, and very impressive too. The level of the game has improved so much, in physicality, in a technical way, the tactical way and every country needs to step up to stay at the top.”


Spain hope World Cup triumph will be an inspiration to future generations of girls



Heavyweight boxing produces moments of shock and awe that can be difficult to mimic in any rival sporting field. 

Britain’s Henry Cooper is forever celebrated for throwing the punch that floored the young Muhammad Ali in 1963, Buster Douglas delivered the shot of his lifetime against Mike Tyson in 1990 and Oliver McCall will always be recalled for his knockout blow against Lennox Lewis in 1994. 
Big men are always at risk of walking onto a career-defining haymaker if they are not careful in the ring, but nobody could have predicted the goings on when undefeated WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury met Francis Ngannou, the former UFC heavyweight champion, in a crossover bout in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia in October. 

The 'Battle of the Baddest' invoked memories of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr watching a huge Ali fight at Madison Square Garden in New York as the great and the good of celebrity flew into Saudi to catch the fight, including Eminem, Kanye West and Mike Tyson, who helped Ngannou make the considerable transition from the Octagon to the ring. 
Fury’s boxing skills were expected to dominate a figure making his professional debut in the noble art, but the tactics of Ngannou to lie in wait worked to perfection before a colossal shock seemed possible when the rippling MMA man sparked a telling left hook to leave Fury reeling on the canvas in the third round. 

Blowing hard, the English giant recovered to beat the count and force the outcome to the judges’ scorecards over 10 exacting rounds, squeaking a win by a split decision. 

Fury earned the decision 96-93 and 95-94 on two cards with a third judge scoring it 95-94 for the man from Cameroon. 

It preserved his unbeaten record in the ring, but the damage to 'The Gypsy King' was hardly insignificant. 

“Yes, I really believe I won that fight. I should’ve done better, but still I won that fight," said Ngannou afterwards. 

Did Fury underestimate his opponent or did Ngannou overachieve? These are questions that will need to be answered next year when you discover how both men emerge such from such a monumental evening.
Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between. 

"That definitely wasn’t in the script," said Fury as he reflected on the test posed by Ngannou. 

"He’s a hell of a fighter and a hell of a lot better boxer than we thought he would be. He’s an awkward man and a good puncher and I respect him a lot.

"He’s given me one of my toughest fights of the last 10 years."
Yet it was Ngannou who emerged from the fight with the plaudits after pressing Fury the distance in a manner that seemed to visibly shock the sport’s lineal champion. 

Set against such a backdrop, Fury's world heavyweight unification fight against Oleksandr Usyk when he returns to Riyadh on 17 February will make for intriguing viewing between two undefeated and era-defining fighters.

The 'Ring of Fire' battle needs no igniting in what will be the first undisputed heavyweight dust-up since Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield fought in 1999. 



The year ended with Anthony Joshua rejoining the party in the heavyweight division courtesy of a clubbing victory over Swedish opponent Otto Wallin, who was hammered into submission after five exacting rounds in Riyadh. 

After losing on points to Usyk in the title bouts in 2021 and 2022, AJ has used 2023 to regain momentum with a points win over Jermaine Franklin and a KO of Robert Helenius in the seventh round at the O2 in London coming before he retired Wallin.

The plan to next face fellow former world champion Deontay Wilder might need to be revisited after the 'Bronze Bomber' lost on points to Joseph Parker on the same bill, but there is no doubt Joshua is back in the mix. 

There surely remains a strong public appetite for an all-British duel with Fury as he bids to become a three-time world champion, but much will depend on how the unification bout with Usyk plays out. 

"Every fight leads to a final destination," said Joshua. "Keep on praying and working hard. I've got to stay focused because I'm on a journey and it's hard."



It was not all wayward or wondering what next for the British big men in a combat arena as Salford’s Tom Aspinall captured the interim heavyweight title with a brutal first round TKO of Russia Sergei Pavlovich in November at UFC 295.

Aspinall dropped Pavlovich after only 69 seconds and rained down a flurry of punches upon his dazed opponent, who was rescued by the referee from further damage lying on the UFC flower bed at the Garden in New York. 

Aspinall was handed his chance at the 11th hour after the heavyweight bout between Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic was cancelled due to Jones suffering untimely injury.

"It has been a crazy two and a half weeks," said Aspinall, who said he wanted to be dubbed the 'Honey Badger' moving forward as a statement of fearless intent

"I want to tell everyone at home, that if you ever get the chance to do something and you're scared to do it, you should just do it.”

An undisputed UFC battle with Jones would be something to behold in 2024 with Aspinall stating his desire to dominate the division. 

“I absolutely love the sport of boxing, [but] I f****** can’t stand the boxing model,” said Aspinall, who like Fury in the fight game, is keen to secure his own legacy in UFC. 

“There should not be five, six different world champions at one weight.
“Let’s find out who the f****** guy is. That’s what I want to find out. 
“There are two champions right now in the UFC heavyweight division. That’s not right.”

Fury says he would relish witnessing a confrontation between Jones and his sparring partner Aspinall for the heavyweight crown in the cage, a fight he feels could be too close to call. 

“It’s a tough one,” Fury told TNT Sports. “Jon Jones is the Tyson Fury of boxing. People are unable to beat him. Very tough one. Even though Tom Aspinall’s a mate, Jon Jones is probably considered the greatest of all time in MMA, so I don’t know.

“It's probably like, can anyone beat Vladimir Klitschko before Tyson Fury beat him? Probably not, but then Tyson Fury beat him. So if anyone can beat Jon Jones, it’ll be Tom Aspinall. Nobody else.”



Springboks parade Webb Ellis Cup after South Africa's Rugby World Cup triumph
Springboks parade Webb Ellis Cup after South Africa's Rugby World Cup triumph


In a land of genuine heavyweights, sometimes blue-riband sports events fail to live up to the pre-tournament hype.

Anybody who witnessed the 10th Rugby World Cup in September and October will only feel sorry that it had to find closure after a breathless two months. 

Fine margins in sport dictate victory or defeat, and the destination of the tournament seemed to come down to a fortuitous bounce of the ball here and there. Which it did. 

South Africa, New Zealand, Ireland, tournament hosts France and even a rejuvenated England in the end were so close together when push came to shove, it would have been impossible to slide a skelf between the scrums. 

Ireland’s pulverising 13-8 win over South Africa at the Stade de France in Paris had to be seen to be believed, a final before the final held in the Pool Stage due to a contentious decision to stage the tournament draw three years before the ultimate event. 

The “reward” for winning that contest saw the Springboks paired with France in Paris in the quarter-finals. 

It was a rip-snorting contest that produced arguably the finest first half in World Cup history with South Africa finally edging a brutal engagement 29-28 by a solitary point. 

Highlights: England fend off Fiji fightback, heartbreak for France against South Africa


Ireland’s running battle with New Zealand was no less intense as the All Blacks prevailed 28-24 in another epic duel befitting a final with less between the teams over 80 minutes than two coats of paint. 

It was a case of what have been for Ireland’s vociferous fans. Unlike Richie McCaw and Dan Carter for the All Blacks in 2015, there was no dream farewell for Johnny Sexton in his final match, nor centre Bundee Aki, who was one of the players of the tournament. Fairytale finishes have to be earned in such a raw environment. 

Even when Ireland and France were taken out in the last eight, there was no feeling of after the Lord Mayor’s show about the world in union.

Rugby World Cup highlights as Argentina stun Wales and New Zealand beat Ireland to reach semis


Coming from the easier half of the draw, England – with Saracens lock Maro Itoje in magnificent form – almost hijacked the South African party as they suddenly exhibited some of the mean form from their 2003 Rugby World Cup-winning vintage. 

An agonising 16-15 defeat saw the prodigious Handre Pollard kick the winning penalty on the 78th minute to deny England a final berth at the death after the reliable boot of captain Owen Farrell had helped his side move 15-6 clear on 69 minutes. 

Inspired by the outstanding Ardie Savea, Richie Mo’unga and Aaron Smith, the All Blacks destroyed Argentina 44-6 in the other semi-final to secure their showdown against South Africa.

Highlights as South Africa beat England in semi-finals of Rugby World Cup


It seemed fate that the two greatest nations in Rugby World Cup history had been on a collision course to determine who would be the first side to reach a quartet of Webb Ellis trophies.

As such, the final was a fraught affair with the theme of brutally tight matches leaving little room for error between two sides who are defined by the sport’s grandest stage. 

Despite being a man down for the final 52 minutes with captain Sam Cane having a yellow upgraded for dangerous play, the All Blacks refused to accept their fate, but could not convert the winning penalty late on in an agonising 12-11 defeat that could have gone either way. 

Pollard was not in the initial South African squad due to injury, but came in from the cold to kick all of his side’s points in a World Cup final settled by the finest of margins as Jordie Barrett narrowly missed a late long-range penalty to win it for the All Blacks. 

When the final whistle sounded, South Africa commiserated with New Zealand because they could easily have been on the wrong end of the result with men such as Faf de Klerk, Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit symbolising the country’s greatest show of unity since Nelson Mandela presented the trophy to Francois Pienaar in 1995. 

“This one is for every single person in South Africa, rich, poor, it doesn't matter,” said South African captain Siya Kolisi. 

“This win will inspire a lot of people, but it's not going to change how people are in circumstance. But for us as players, it’s going to give us a platform that we can open more opportunities."



It was not so long ago that the Tour de France – the ultimate endurance challenge in any sport – looked ripe for a Tadej Pogacar dynasty after back-to-back victories in 2020 and 2021. 

That was until the Slovenian discovered a spoke in his wheel in the form of a great Danish roadblock up ahead. 

Jonas Vingegaard restored parity with Pogacar on two Tour victories apiece as he eased up the Champs-Elysees in Paris in July quaffing bubbly on the ceremonial stage after a champagne three weeks at the 110th edition of the world’s greatest cycling race. 

"It's been an amazing year,” said the Jumbo-Visma rider. “What a Tour de France for us. We started the plans early, and once again, I could not have done it without my team. I'm so proud of every one of us.”

Stage 16 highlights: Vingegaard soars to outclass Pogacar in time trial


Vingegaard seized control of the race over two punishing, but pivotal stages in the Alps.

He moved one minute and 48 seconds clear of Pogacar after a breathtaking time trial on the 16th stage from Passy to Combloux before finishing the most fearsome mountain stage on the Col de la Loze in the Alps over seven minutes clear.
“My bike computer was showing such high numbers that I thought it wasn’t working,” Vingegaard said after his maiden time trial triumph at the Tour. 

“I was feeling great today – I think it was the best time trial I have ever done. 

“I’m really proud with what I did today and I’m really proud about the victory.”

Pogacar did recover to win the penultimate stage, but his race had been run for another year. 

Vingegaard has become like a Jonah figure for Pogacar with both men battling not to capsize first in the same boat amid the GC storms that rage. 

“I’m dead,” said 24-year-old Pogacar – who had the small but hardly inconsiderable comfort of being named the young rider of the Tour for a fourth straight year – in cutting an exhausted figure on the 17th stage. 
Like all great sports icons, Vingegaard knows when to leave their main rival for dead. 

How a puzzled Pogacar solves the pressing issue of Vingegaard is as unclear as thick fog on Les Deux Alpes.


Annemiek van Vleuten brought the curtain down on her distinguished life and times in cycling on the final stage of the Simac Ladies Tour.

In a storied 16-year career, the Dutch champion won two world road race titles, two world individual time trial titles, Olympic gold in the time trial, the Tour de France, four Giro d’Italias, three La Vuelta Femenina, two Ronde van Vlaanderen - Tour des Flandres, two Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes and two Strade Bianche Donnes. 

She had hoped to win a Tour-Giro-Vuelta treble in her final season, but her stranglehold on stage races was ended after Demi Vollering wrapped up overall victory at the Tour de France Femmes
But the 40-year-old was not to be deprived a winning farewell as she signed off by adding the Tour of Scandinavia to her Giro-Vuelta double before closing out her career in the Netherlands at the Simac Tour. 

"You have to say goodbye to this part of my life, that I will not come back anymore," Van Vleuten said ahead of the event.

"I started racing in 2007 with some small criteriums, and as a stagiaire, I did the Holland Ladies Tour [Simac Ladies Tour] in 2007 for the first time. It was only one day because I crashed out after one day; my skills were not so good yet," said the three-time Dutch women's cyclist of the year. 

"It's good to end my career there and that it's also very close to my home. It felt special because it had my name written all over the place, with a prologue near my home, and the last race is in my training area in Arnhem, which is also close to where I grew up and the place where my mother still lives in Vorden, so it just feels like a nice way to say goodbye." 

'What an emotional moment' - Van Vleuten ends career on home soil



For a man known as the 'Manx Missile', cycling has always been defined by a sudden rush of blood to the head for Mark Cavendish and those jostling for position around him. 

How else can you explain the feeding frenzy that occurs during a frantic sprint finish to a race at one of the sport’s Grand Tours? How else can you explain emerging from such a blood-thirsty pack to finish first time and time again from such an unforgiving man-made force of nature?
And how do you explain Cavendish emerging ahead of his foes a record 34 times at the Tour de France to equal five-time GC winner Eddy Merckx, a bloke nicknamed ‘The Cannibal’ due to his voracious appetite for gobbling up the miles and medals. 

Having announced his intention to retire this year, Cav's ambition to overtake Merckx appeared lost when he finished second on Stage 7 of the Tour before suffering a crushing fall on Stage 8 that forced him out of the race.

'What an absolute disaster' – Cavendish crashes out on Stage 8 as record bid ends


Having revisited his decision to end his career in October, Cavendish will again retrain to overtake fast Eddy at the Tour in 2024. He must fancy his chances. 

The Astana rider cut a jubilant figure after his fellow British rider Geraint Thomas played a pivotal role in his victory on the final stage of the Giro d’Italia in Rome in May, roaming to a 17th career stage win at the event. 
From Douglas on the Isle of Man, Cav discovered that no man is an island, but Thomas said he wanted to “help a brother out” after seeing his mate light on support.

Having chatted to Cavendish with just over 2km remaining, he moved to the front of the pack to drive the pace. 
Cavendish slotted in third wheel behind Astana team-mate Luis Leon Sanchez with Thomas’ champion effort ensuring his former Sky team-mate would not be boxed in as Cav coasted to a trademark thrilling win.

Having been denied a GC win a day earlier at the Giro by Primoz Roglic, it was a delightful act of selflessness by the Welsh 2018 Tour de France winner. 

Cavendish was not surprised. 
'He's soaking it all up fantastic move!' - Cavendish comes home for final Giro time trial


“It was special. Rome is special. Anyone who has ever been to Rome, it blows you away. So the Giro finishing in Rome, in front of the Colosseum, the is nice,” Cavendish told Eurosport. 

“And then you had what G [Thomas] did. I get quite emotional.

“It wouldn’t have happened without G. It just wouldn’t have happened. 
“We wouldn’t have been able to do what we wanted to do without G there.

“It was impressive. That wasn't a show, that was a big old job. Yeah, he's a legend, isn't he?”
Cavendish on 'irrelevant' Tour de France record and admiration for 'legend' Thomas



The majestic Simone Biles could easily have opted to retire from gymnastics when she was blighted by a bout of the dreaded “twisties” during the pandemic-delayed 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021.

Citing a preference to focus on her mental health, the American great withdrew from the first vault of the team final before opting out of the individual all-around final and three of the four individual apparatus finals.

Biles returned to confront the balance beam to snag a bronze in the final, but that looked like it could have been a final mournful farewell to the Olympic stage. 

'Biles is back!' - Gymnastics superstar with stunning beam routine for bronze


Like the 'yips' in golf, the twisties can be brought on by anxiety in the pursuit of perfection, and provide a debilitating mental block when a gymnast can become disorientated in mid-air, losing all sense of their bearings or what confused brain signals are mapping out in acrobatics. 

In not knowing how to land back on the ground, it can also prove highly dangerous in terms of injuries. If not confronted, the mixed messages can prove career-ending for an athlete.

When faith in technique is gone, all is lost in any field of excellence. 

Yet at the age of 26, Biles was far from finished with her dominance in the ultimate sporting test of flexibility and finesse. 

“I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to compete again because there were multiple times this year where I was in the gym and I was like, ‘I’m actually terrified of this full-in, like I’m not doing it again, never going to do it,'" said Biles ahead of winning an eighth all-around title at the US Championships in August. 

“And then I was like, ‘You know what? I’m just going to come back another day, another day.’”

With her place at the World Championships confirmed, Biles did not disappoint in winning a record-breaking sixth individual all-around title at the World Championships in the Belgian city of Antwerp in August to become the most decorated gymnast of all time, in both the men and women's competitions, in overtaking celebrated Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo.

Biles ousted Brazilian defending champion Rebeca Andrade to claim her 21st World Championship gold medal, and won gold in the team category, the women's balance beam final and floor exercise. A silver on the vault was hardly secondary.

"I had to prove to myself that I could still get out here, twist, I could prove all the haters wrong, that I'm not a quitter, this, that, the other," said Biles. "I didn't care as long as I'm out there twisting again, having fun and finding the joy for gymnastics again, who cares?"

She has 37 medals overall, 30 of which have come at the World Championships – 23 gold, four silver and three bronze.

All being well, Biles is coming for more at the Olympic Games in Paris next July, perhaps the scene of a fitting dénouement in the sport. Or perhaps not. 

With Biles, who knows where it will all end? She has earned the right to write her own postscript on a staggering career containing more highs and lows than merely the gymnastics arena. 

The greatest women athlete of all time? It is difficult to find an obvious alternative. 



Jon Rahm celebrates at the Masters 2023.
Image credit: Getty Images


It is fair to say big Jon Rahm lives life to the full when he takes to a golf course. 

For a golfer nicknamed 'Rahmbo', the Spanish icon drew first blood at the US Masters in April. He cut an elated figure in donning his maiden Green Jacket by invoking the spirit of his childhood idol Seve Ballesteros with a swashbuckling display at Augusta, the most recognisable set-up on the planet alongside the Old Course at St Andrews. 

In securing the world No. 1 ranking, the 2021 US Open champion became a multiple major winner by finishing on 12 under for his week’s work, four strokes clear of battle-hardened US duo Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson. 

It was his fourth win of the year as he became the fourth adoring Spanish winner of the Green Jacket, joining Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia as part of his country’s Million Dollar quartet. 
Rahm was two strokes adrift of Koepka early in the fourth round, but a closing three under 69 enabled 'Rahmbo' to rampage clear of the field. 

Achieving the feat on what would have been the 66th birthday of Ballesteros – a groundbreaking Masters champion in 1980 and 1983 – was not lost on the 29-year-old JR, who has tamed the inner beast of temperament to make good on his early promise. 

"History of the game is a big reason why I play and Seve is a big part of that history," said Rahm, who won three times on the PGA Tour at the Tournament of Champions, the Desert Classic and the Los Angeles Open before his masterful flowering at Magnolia Lane. 

"For me to get it done on the 40th anniversary of his second Masters win and on his birthday was incredibly meaningful.

"This one is for Seve. I knew he would be up there helping and help he did."

In finishing tied for second at the Open Championship behind Brian Harman in July, Rahm shot the first 63 in the third round around Royal Liverpool. 

He also went undefeated at the 44th Ryder Cup near Rome, claiming three points from four matches as Europe regained the sport’s greatest team event with a 16.5-11.5 victory over the United States.

But life does indeed come at you fast.

Rahm signs for LIV, aims to grow the game of golf


The dramatic nature of Rahm’s year was not yet finished as he announced in December he would be transferring his considerable skillset to LIV golf, and was subsequently suspended by the PGA Tour. 
“Things have changed a lot in the game of golf over the past two years, and I’ve seen the growth of LIV Golf and the innovation,” said Rahm after signing a deal with LIV. “That’s why I’m here today."

It is fair to say JR livs life to the full. 



Is Stuart Broad the last of a dying breed in cricket? 

If Broad wanted to script his departure from the Test arena, he could not have picked a better hill on which to die than the epic Ashes battle between England and Australia in his Indian summer. 

The 37-year-old informed captain Ben Stokes of his intention to retire on the Friday of the fifth and final Test of a breathless Test series in July at the Oval in London. 

He was left bruised and bloodied in his boots, but unbowed in celebrating the final two Aussie wickets on Monday as England fought back from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 draw that felt more like a moral victory. 
Stuart Broad of England celebrates taking the wicket of Alex Carey of Australia and victory during Day Five of the LV= Insurance Ashes 5th Test Match. between England and Australia at The Kia Oval on July 31, 2023 in London, England. Image credit: Getty Images


“It is special,” said the Nottinghamshire paceman. 

“It is a difficult decision to walk away from the game I love, but I wanted my last ball to be in an environment that is so special and playing sport I still love – for my lasting memory to be pure joy and happiness.

“That is how I feel now.”]

With 22 wickets snaffled from an often bewitching yet at times bitter and bad-natured series – ignited by the contentious stumping of Jonny Bairstow by the Aussies in winning the second Test at Lord’s – Broad ended his career with 604 Test wickets, behind only four other men in the all-time list. 

“I hit the last ball I faced for six and took a wicket to win the Test with my last ball,” said Broad after claiming the wicket of Alex Carey to give England a 49-run victory

“People say it was a fairytale ending, but what’s the word for something even above a fairytale?," he told The Sun. "I couldn’t have written a script that cool.”

Only Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Shane Warne (708), James Anderson (690) and Anil Kumble (619) are ahead of him as the most prodigious wicket-takers in history. 

Keeping the very best of company probably best tells the story of Broad’s 16-year career, but his legend – like Jim Laker, Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff of yesteryear – was secured by his ability to thrive in the Ashes furnace. 


India were unbeaten before the ODI World Cup final with Australia in November at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad which housed over 90,000 fans for the showpiece occasion.

Despite the batting brilliance of captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli – who was named player of the tournament with three centuries and an all-time record aggregate score of 765 – the home side had no answer to Travis Head, who hit a fabulous century as Pat Cummins skippered his country to a sixth success by six wickets after chasing down India’s 240 with 42 balls to spare. 

“That’s huge, that’s the pinnacle in cricket, winning a World Cup, especially here in India,” said Cummins.

“These are the moments you remember for the rest of your life.”


'Incredibly proud' - Verstappen reflects on winning F1 title


Max Verstappen continues to revel in the days of his life in Formula One. It does not look like the peerless Dutchman or his Red Bull team will run out of road anytime soon in a fast lane seemingly devised for only one man and his machine. 

A third straight F1 World Championship has been delivered with records tumbling with every race won.

Verstappen oversaw an outlandish 19 victories in 22 races, overhauling his own record of 15 from last year. 

He claimed the most consecutive Grand Prix victories between Miami in May and Monza in Italy in winning 10 straight races, securing the title with six races remaining of the season in Qatar, a record that matched Michael Schumacher in 2002 for the earliest point a driver could claim the title. 

Verstappen also amassed a record points total of 575 from a possible 620 on his way to his latest trophy success. How do you improve upon near perfection? 

“It will be very hard to have another season like this, we know that,” said Verstappen.

“For me, naturally, the motivation is there, because I know that for most of the races that I go to this year, I have a big chance of winning, so that’s great.”



The fastest man on two wheels was Francesco Bagnaia, who sealed a second straight MotoGP World Championship with victory at the Valencia Grand Prix in November. 

An unfortunate collision between his nearest rival Jorge Martin and Marc Marquez that saw a crestfallen Martin crash out provided the Italian rider to steer home the title for Ducati by 39 points. 

"Amazing, I don't have many words right now,” said Bagnaia, who was supported by the nine-time world champion and mentor Valentino Rossi in Spain.
“It was a long race, 27 laps of struggle because I didn’t feel good in the front. I let the KTM riders past and then the feeling became better, maybe because the pressure or the temperature changed. 

“From that moment I was able to push, but in the last few laps I was completely without tyres, but we did it. It was quite tough, but we did it. 
“We won the title, we won the race, it’s impossible to get any better than this.”


O'Sullivan emotional as he clinches UK Championship glory with stunning clearance


For the remarkable 'Rocket Ronnie', nothing seems impossible within the confines of a snooker table, a sport which he performs rather than merely plays. New Ronnie O’Sullivan? Same as the old one. 

Amid a year that saw Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong suspended and Liang Wenbo banned for life after a match-fixing probe, there was enough awe-inspiring moments to shine a positive light on the sport’s ongoing ability to grip millions.

World No. 1 O’Sullivan again sprinkled gold dust all over the old green baize with his eighth UK Championship signed, sealed and delivered in York. 

It came an astonishing 30 years after he completed his first at the age of 17 with a 10-6 win over fellow seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry along the road in Preston. 

To witness the sprint finish of his 10-7 win over Ding Junhui in the final in York was to appreciate a vision of sporting utopia, with O’Sullivan wrapping up the final three frames to spare with a level of inner strength, audacious potting and quality control he was surely not reaching even three decades ago. 

It is no longer a question of whether O’Sullivan is the snooker GOAT, it is just a question of what numbers he will declare on in the final stretch of his golden career. 

Where he will stop, nobody knows. Not even himself. 

“For me, it is about the titles, leaving a legacy and leaving targets for everyone else to try and chase," said O'Sullivan. "Hopefully, I will be dead by the time they catch my targets."

O’Sullivan had been outdone in his quest for a record eighth world title by Luca Brecel in April as the player dubbed the ‘Belgian Bullet’ shot to victory at the Crucible with a high-octane, audacious display of attacking brilliance in May.

Brecel clinches 'sensational' maiden world title against Selby at Crucible


Brecel claimed the final seven frames in a 13-10 win against O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals, wrapping them up in only 79 minutes. 

He launched the mother of all comebacks from 14-5 behind against Si Jiahui in the semi-finals – the biggest recovery in the televised era of the tournament – to come through 17-15 after snagging 12 of the final 13 frames.

Brecel steeled himself to lead four-time world champion Mark Selby from start to finish in a taut 18-15 final win – who threatened his own comeback in closing to 16-15 behind having trailed 15-10 – before young Luca regrouped to become the first world champion from mainland Europe.

“The interest in snooker has been exploding in Belgium for the last couple of days so I don’t know what’s going to happen now, but I can’t wait to see it,” he said in earning a £500,000 winner's cheque that helped him purchase a red Ferrari. 

“There is no reason for me to feel any pressure any more, I have achieved the ultimate dream, it is life changing and I’m sure it will set me up for many more things to come.”

Yet it was another snooker year when the effervescent O’Sullivan continues to find the best version of himself with his latest revival something to behold even by his own pristine standards. 



Great Britain’s interests at the World Athletic Championships in August were best served by the rousing efforts of Katarina Johnson-Thompson and the dashing Josh Kerr, who claimed two memorable golds in Budapest. 

'KJT' had been plagued by injuries in recent years – rupturing her Achilles shortly after winning the heptathlon at the 2019 World Championship in Doha – but displayed the power of positive thinking by recovering in some style to tie down a second world crown by 20 points. 

Johnson-Thompson wins heptathlon gold at World Athletics Championships


“All I’ve ever wanted was a chance at gold and I’m so happy,” said Johnson-Thompson, who was forced to withdraw from the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo in tears after tearing a calf muscle during the 200m. 

“That’s why I had no nerves coming into the 800m when my name got called out and I could see the montages, and I could see my 2018 self, and I just thought ‘all I ever wanted was a shot at gold’, and I was so happy I was able to take that opportunity today.”
Johnson-Thompson wipes away tears in emotional interview after winning heptathlon gold


Britain has always enjoyed a celebrated history of middle-distance success when you recall Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram battling for riches in the 1980s, but the new generation seems to be faring well in their own era. 

After Jake Wightman won the 1500m in 2022, it was Josh Kerr’s turn to eclipse Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway in striking gold as he outpaced the 22-year-old hot favourite down the final stretch with a spectacular season’s best 3:29.38 seeing him cross the line more than two tenths clear of Ingebrigtsen.

"It's been a long time coming. It's quite an overwhelming experience. I'm so proud of myself," said Kerr after a fabulous performance that undercut a perplexed Ingebrigtsen in a fascinating final duel. 

"I'm so proud of my team and my family who got me here. I didn't feel like I ran the best race either. I just threw my whole 16 years of this sport in that last 200m, and didn't give up until the end.

'One of the great performances!' - Kerr stuns Ingebrigtsen to win 1500m gold



Is the juice worth the squeeze? That is the question all great sportsmen and women must answer when they consider their purpose in life pursuing perfection in their respective vocations. 

For the magnificent flat racing jockey Frankie Dettori – a bloke still very much in his prime at the age of 52 – the answer was unequivocal when he revisited plans to retire at the end of the year.

Following victories at the 2,000 Guineas, the Oaks, the Ascot Gold Cup and the Coronation Cup, Dettori spoke of the “fire burning inside him” when he abandoned plans to retire from horse racing in October. 

Having first saddled up in these parts way back in 1987, the dynamic Dettori intends to extend his career in the USA as he targets a tilt at the Kentucky Derby in May. 

“The more you do it, the harder it is to let go,” he said. “When you do something for 36 years every day, it’ll take a while.

“That’s why I’m extending, because I’m not ready to give up yet.”
A curious case of all that you can't leave behind. Yet how can you walk away from the ultimate adrenaline rush in life?

'Shiffrin is on fire!' - American storms to victory with brilliant downhill run at St. Moritz
'Shiffrin is on fire!' - American storms to victory with brilliant downhill run at St. Moritz


At the age of 28, the remarkable Mikaela Shiffrin confirmed her status as the greatest Alpine skier in history after breaking Swede Ingemar Stenmark's 34-year-old record of 86 World Cup wins in March. 

She bettered Lindsey Vonn’s record of 82 World Cup victories in the women's category at the outset of the year. 

The personable American double Olympic gold medalist is the only skier to have conquered all six disciplines with wins in downhill, super-G, slalom, giant slalom, combined, and parallel illustrating an incomparable display of commitment, consistency and candour in the search for self-improvement. 

Her career came full circle as she returned to Are in Sweden to break Stenmark's mark, the scene of her maiden World Cup triumph in slalom at the age of 17 in 2012. 

Shiffrin's unquenchable thirst for further success is likely to see her go beyond 100 having reached 91 with a cameo downhill victory at St Moritz in December. Not that records inspire her dedication. 

"Life is not a linear climb," said Shiffrin in a magazine interview in November. "If you feel like you’ve reached the top of a mountain, it doesn’t mean it’s all downhill from there for the rest of your life. It just means you reached that summit and it might be downhill for a bit, and then you’ll climb again.

"You’ll get to experience the joy of it more than once in your life. Even in your lowest moments, you can always look forward to things picking back up as long as you’re passionate about it and you’re willing to work to improve."

How you view winning or losing remains up to the individual, but nobody should apologise for putting themselves first in their own personal duels with everyday existence.

If sport was based merely around participation, we would not be able to appreciate the true historical essence of such dedicated levels of excellence witnessed over the past year.

Indeed, the ability to marvel and celebrate the indomitable champion spirit, the refusal to yield in time and innate will to win of charismatic figures like Shiffrin, Dettori, Aspinall, Fury, Djokovic, LeBron, Biles and O'Sullivan provide a wonderful life lesson.

In crafting the gold standard for future generations to follow, they also entertain millions with a liberating, mood-enhancing sense of escapism from the hardship and demands that the grind of daily living inevitably throws up. 

Sport can mean many things all at once, but the sensation that comes from winning, from learning to express yourself under extreme pressure in the brutal, unforgiving arena and emerging triumphant, continues to remain a true art form in its own right.

- - - 

TNT Sports presents the premium live sports rights previously carried by BT Sport including the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Conference League, Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Investec Champions Cup, EPCR Challenge Cup, MotoGP, Cricket, UFC, Boxing and WWE. The streaming home for TNT Sports in the UK is discovery+, where fans can enjoy a subscription that includes TNT Sports, Eurosport and entertainment in one destination. You can also watch TNT Sports through BT, EE, Sky, and Virgin Media.

  Reader Comments

You did not use the site, Click here to remain logged. Timeout: 60 second