The year that was
In an enthralling year that saw world records tumble and human limits redefined, we present five performers who wrote their name in sporting folklore and five feats that made 2008 special.india Updated: Dec 28, 2008 23:29 IST
Some had predicted long back that Sachin Tendulkar would one day break all batting records. The man is well on his way to fulfill the prophecy. This year he became the highest run scorer in Test cricket by overtaking Brian Lara. The Mumbai maestro, who also took his tally of Test centuries to 41 (another record), also exorcised his Chennai ghosts by scoring a masterful century in the fourth innings against England at a venue he had seen India snatch defeat from jaws of victory vs Pakistan in 1999.
Leap of faith
If Usain Bolt sizzled on track, Michael Phelps conquered the water, then the recipient of the aerial honour has to be Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva. Keeping track of Isinbayeva’s world records count is becoming a cumbersome task for the statisticians. Isinbayeva broke three world records in 2008. In Beijing, the Russian pushed the mark in women’s pole vault to 5.05 metres, the 24th world record of her career, proving once again that she has no competition when it comes to pole vaulting. It was no surprise when the IAAF named her the Athlete of the Year.
The year Usain Bolted
Usain Bolt let those long legs loose at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing and left China with three Olympic golds, three world records and hundreds of millions of new fans around the world. Virtually unknown at the start of the year, the Jamaican sprinter was the star of the track in 2008, first setting a world record in the 100 meters at the end of May and then loweringThe year Usain Bolted
Usain Bolt let those long legs loose at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing and left China with three Olympic golds, three world records and hundreds of millions of new fans around the world. Virtually unknown at the start of the year, the Jamaican sprinter was the star of the track in 2008, first setting a world record in the 100 meters at the end of May and then lowering the mark to 9.69 seconds at the Olympics. A few days later, he set a 200m record of 19.30, taking two hundredths of a second off the mark set by Michael Johnson in 1996. To cap it off, the 1.96-meter (6-foot-5) Bolt helped Jamaica win gold in the 4x100 relay — another world record, of course!
Second time lucky
He missed it last year, faltering in the final race to finish second in the Drivers’ Championship. But there was no denying McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton in 2008. The 23-year-old Briton duly became the youngest and the first black world champion in F1 history by pipping Ferrari’s Felipe Massa by a point in the drivers’ standings. Hamilton overtook Timo Glock in the final lap of the final race in Brazil to finish fifth even as Massa won the race but fell a point short.
The rise and rise of Gambhir
The highest Indian run-getter in the IPL had a surreal 2008, which saw him cement his berth in all forms of the game. In 37th spot till October, the left-handed opener climbed 27 places after scoring 824 runs in his last five Tests at an average of 82.4 and is now the highest ranked Indian Test batsman. His has been a great story.
Back in the saddle again
On September 9, Lance Armstrong announced he will return for the 2009 Tour de France. Even if he doesn’t, the seven consecutive Tour de France champion, who survived testicular cancer and a germ cell tumor in 1996, has done enough to become a legend. On his way to becoming a father for the fourth time, this time without artificial insemination, he now wants to win to raise global cancer awareness.
Enter the Dragon
China rocked the world with its splendid organisation of the Beijing Olympics. The opening ceremony was hailed as the best ever in Olympic history and made for riveting viewing. But it was not only about the style for the Chinese. The hosts topped the medal tally with 51 golds, way ahead of America (36). A jump of 19 golds from the Athens tally tells about a country ready to take over the sporting world.
Three simple men made a country of billion smile after an eternal wait. Abhinav Bindra shot a superb 10.8 in 10m air rifle event to become India’s first ever individual Olympic gold winner. Equally impressive were Vijender Kumar and Sushil Kumar Singh, both of whom won the bronze medal in boxing and wrestling respectively.
Viswanathan Anand has been ruling the game of squares with such authority this year that no mortal has come close to displacing him. And when a Vladimir Kramnik did challenge him, the Russian had to beat a hasty retreat. Now, the 'Lightning Kid' is the undisputed champions of three formats — knockout, tournament and match formats.
First Published: Dec 28, 2008 23:12 IST