Welcome to my nightmare: Britain’s year of sporting dominance
Will 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins ever win the Paris-Roubaix? AFP PHOTO / JOEL SAGET
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From a sporting perspective, 2012 was a tough year to be an Aussie in Britain.
First and foremost, the Brits absolutely thrashed us in the medal count at the Olympics. My only solace was we won gold first and I bleated long and hard about it at work.
Luckily it was my last night at said job before leaving York for Liverpool, so I got to enjoy first blood without being slowly drained of my own as England won 29 subsequent gold to our eventual seven.
The Tour de France wasn’t much better. Australian defending champion Cadel Evans gave a brave show but was absolutely decimated – as was the rest of the peloton – by the British Sky team.
Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour. His only credible threat was teammate and fellow Brit Chris Froome, who came second.
One sport I was supremely confident we couldn’t be beaten by the Poms in was rugby league. Australia is the world’s number one nation at the sport and perhaps more importantly, our two countries didn’t play each other.
Yet they still managed to claim international honours over us, with Leeds Rhinos and England captain Kevin Sinfield being awarded the Golden Boot for best player in the world, beating out Australians Cameron Smith and Ben Barba.
To top it off, my beloved Newcastle Knights sucked.
A billionaire new owner had delivered one of the stronger teams on paper. More importantly, he delivered the Sir Alex Ferguson of rugby league, Wayne Bennett, as the coach. But it didn’t gel and the Knights never even threatened for a place in the top eight, let alone looked like winning the comp. And that’s hard to swallow wherever I am in the world.
But the sporting moment of 2012 wasn’t watching my teams fall to the old enemy. It was the All Blacks getting dusted by them.
The New Zealand rugby union team had a near flawless year, winning 19 of a possible 20 Tests. That Australia had been the only team not to lose to the All Blacks all year – securing an 18-all draw in Brisbane – looked to be one sporting achievement I could claim.
But the All Blacks’ final game of the year was against England.
38 – 21 was the result, England’s best ever victory against New Zealand and the first time the Kiwis had lost an Autumn Test in a decade.
Britain’s year of sporting dominance was pretty tough to stomach.
Not only did they show us up in sports broadly associated with the Commonwealth, and therefore in which we are old rivals, but they killed it on the world stage.
Andy Murray won the US Open, the first Brit to win a Grand Slam since Fred Perry in 1936.
Rory McIlroy finished the year as world number one in golf.
And Team GB (you wouldn’t believe the shudderingly-bad commercialisation of that term over here) claimed third in the overall Olympic and Paralympic medal tallies.
I’m calling it an East German-style state wide doping programme. I’ll report back with my findings.
Joe is the editor of Disaffected Middle Class