New Zealand All Blacks' player Dan Carter, left gets the ball away from Australia's Berrick Barnes during their Bledisloe Cup rugby test (AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill).
If any movie studios were looking to make a film out of a real life fairytale, any number of sporting moments from 2010 would suffice.
From drought-breaking Premiership wins to three day tennis matches, the first year of the new decade delivered plenty of thrills, spills and gut-wrenching moments which brought out the best in players and supporters alike. As an avid sports fan, I found it difficult to narrow these moments down to a top 10, but in the name of controversy, I managed. Without further ado, listed below are, in this humble journalist’s opinion, the top 10 sporting moments of 2010 (in no particular order):
1. Year of the Saint: The year began and ended with a Saints championship in the National Football League and National Rugby League competitions.
In the NFL, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees led his team to an inspirational Super Bowl victory over the Indianapolis Colts, only five years after the city had been torn apart by Hurricane Katrina.
And in the NRL, the St. George Illawarra Dragons won their first premiership since 1979 in scintillating fashion to finally put an end to years of being labelled as “chokers”. Following an emotional 32-8 win over the Sydney Roosters, an emotional Dean Young, who scored late in the game, cried on his father (who had captained the 1979 Dragons to victory) Craig’s shoulder.
2. Geoff Huegill wins in Delhi: When Geoff Huegill announced his return to the sport of swimming in 2008, there were plenty of doubters. Following his retirement after the Athens Olympics in 2004, Huegill’s weight ballooned to almost 140kg, when he was warned by docters of his potentially life-threatening health problems.
But on 9 October, the man nicknamed ‘Skippy’ showcased his unbelievable drive and determination to win gold in the 50m butterfly at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, capping off what was a perfect comeback.
3. Longest… match… ever: In the first round of the 2010 Wimbledon, American John Isner played Nicolas Mahut in the longest match in tennis history, prevailing 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(7), 7–6(3), 70–68.
4. Dan Carter breaks points record: On 27 November, after scoring a halfway penalty against Wales, Carter became the highest point scorer of all time, overtaking England’s Jonny Wilkinson’s previous record of 1,178. He has currently scored a total of 1,188 Test points (29 tries, 208 conversions, 207 penalties and two drop goals) in 79 Tests.
Now for World Cup glory…
5. Controversy in drawn grand final: In the AFL’s first drawn grand final since 1977, Collingwood and St. Kilda played out a 68-all stalemate, leading to calls for extra time to be introduced for grand finals. Nonetheless, the Magpies went on to win the replay by a whopping 56 points to claim their first premiership since 1991.
6. Spain win first World Cup: In a disappointing final, a lone goal Andres Iniesta proved to be the match-winner as Spain translated Euro 2008 success into World Cup glory following their 1-0 defeat of the Netherlands, who employed questionable tactics in the Final designed to upset Spain’s fluent attacking game.
7. Cain Velasquez becomes first Mexican heavyweight champion: It came as a shock when I found out that Cain Velasquez became the first heavyweight champ in the history any combat sport when he won the UFC heavyweight championship at UFC 121 after defeating Brock Lesnar by KO in Round One of their fight.
After leaving Lesnar, who had opened the bout with several strong takedowns, only to be overcome by fatigue, a bloody mess on the canvas, Velasquez proudly showed off his ‘Brown Pride’ tattoo as he celebrated with his team.
8. Andy Irons passes away: It may seem somewhat cruel to place this moment in a top 10 list, however the death of surfing icon Andy Irons vibrated so strongly through not just the surfing world, but all of sport, that 10-time world champion Kelly Slater dedicated a victory to his longtime rival and friend following his passing.
“I just want to send my condolences to Andy’s family,” Slater said. “I’m a little overwhelmed right now but I want to dedicate this to Andy… it’s like exact opposites. This doesn’t really offset that, I’d give this title away in a second if Andy could come back.”
9. Nadal claims three-piece: In yet another sign Rafael Nadal may be the best player in tennis at the moment, the Spaniard claimed Wimbledon, French Open and US Open titles in the same year for the first time in his illustrious career.
If Nadal can overcome a health problem which has plagued his game since late December to win the Australian Open, he will become the first male player to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously since Rod Laver in 1962.
10. Pakistan betting scandal: The International Cricket Council charged Pakistan’s Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif with various offences under its anti-corruption code. The trio were banned until the trial concluded, which as of the time this article is being written has not happened, and protested their innocence.
News of the World alleged they accepted bribes from agent and bookmaker Mazhar Majeed to purposely under-perform at certain points in the Fourth Test at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London.
Honourable mentions: Brett Favre’s retirement and Giants win World Series.