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Opinion

My top ten sporting moments of the decade

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12th December, 2019
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My tastes in sport are very eclectic, so strap yourself in. You’re going to love this list.

10. Ester Ledecká wins gold in snowboard and skiing in 2018
I am the biggest Olympics fan you’ll ever meet. I’d like to say even more so than Roy and HG, but I never brought the world Fatso so I won’t say that.

And one of the defining moments this decade came at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, watching a woman from the Czech Republic win two Olympic gold medals. Sure, that’s not the rarest thing in the world – just ask Michael Phelps.

But to win two gold medals in two different sports at the one Olympics? That is just bonkers.

Ledecká went in to the games as favourite to take out her pet event, the parallel giant slalom, and that was never in doubt. What was in doubt was her competing in alpine skiing in the super-G event. Somehow she did the impossible and won gold, beating defending champion Anna Veith of Austria by 0.01 seconds.

The pure shock on her face when she realised she had won was one of the images of the decade, and capped off an incredible story from an incredible woman.

9. Socceroos win the Asian Cup
Heading into the 2010s, I hadn’t had much to celebrate on the major international football scene for trophies.

I’m one of these weird people who prefer international football over club football, and I’m also weirder for the fact that I support another country more so than my home country when it comes to global tournaments (you’ll find out who soon).

But no matter what, I’m one proud Australian and to see the Socceroos win the Asian Cup and become the first ever country to conquer two different confederations was a sight to see. The fact the entire country seemed to get behind the team during their journey was also great to witness, and one of two great football moments for me this decade.

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Australia win the 2015 Asian Cup.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

8. Chloe Esposito wins gold in Rio
As I said above, I absolutely love the Olympics. I also love the sports that we never really get to see in Australia. That’s perhaps why I love the Winter Olympics more than the Summer Olympics.

However, I still love the Summer Olympics and I am extremely partial to the joy that is modern pentathlon. It’s a sport that any regular Aussie couldn’t tell you anything about, so to wake up one morning and discover that we had won a gold medal was an incredible moment.

Chloe Esposito instantly became my athlete of the year, and I will forever love her for bringing the sport into the public sphere in Australia.

She is the female Simon Fairweather. Both are great athletes, both are great in their sport, and both won Olympic gold medals in sports that Australia hadn’t done well at in the past. Everything will be crossed heading into 2020 hoping for a repeat.

7. The 2012 European Grand Prix
F1 is my sport. It’s my passion. It’s my religion. As is the man, the legend, the god himself Michael Schumacher.

When he announced his return in 2010, I all but lost it and did everything in my power to make it to the Australian Grand Prix that year, where I was even lucky enough to interview him.

But that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to celebrate that one occasion he actually did well enough in his comeback to get on the podium. Sure, it wasn’t his best ever drive and more of a case of being in the right moment at the right time, but screw it. This is my list!

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And seeing Schumacher on the podium one last time was an incredible sight. It was also helped by the fact that the race was also pretty exciting, but for those personal fanboy reasons, this was the best F1 moment for me all decade.

6. The 2013 elimination final between Carlton and Richmond
As a Carlton supporter, I didn’t really have much to choose from this decade for great moments.

Liam Stocker

(Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The 2011 elimination final was up there as it was our first finals win in ten years and it’s always great seeing Essendon lose (another) final.

The final-round game against Port Adelaide in 2013 to get us into the finals – thanks again, Essendon – was also another option given how well the Blues did to come back in the final quarter to win by a point.

But a week later, Carlton trumped that moment with the greatest Carlton game since the 1999 preliminary final – also against Essendon.

I, like many others, gave the side absolutely no chance against Richmond, who of course had returned to the finals for the first time in 12 years. And it all looked like it was going perfectly for the Tigers as they soared out to a pretty dominant lead by the third quarter.

But then without notice, Carlton piled on the goals. Chris Judd turned on the Judd and the Blues walked away with an incredible win and a week extra in a finals series we shouldn’t have even been in.

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The fact that we haven’t made the finals since can be ignored because that game alone was just incredible to watch. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

5. The shot – Raptors versus 76ers, Game 7
I’m unique in most North American sports in that I have two teams in most of the major competitions. In the NHL, I’m a Flames and a Ducks fan, and in the NBA I’m a Raptors and a Bulls fan.

As a fan of both those teams that are so firmly etched into the 1990s, there hasn’t been much to cheer about.

Enter the 2019 NBA Playoffs and the Raptors’ run that would bring them their first ever Championship – you’ll read more about that soon. In that run came Game 7 against Philadelphia in the conference semi-finals.

In that game came Kawhi Leonard and the shot.

A buzzer-beater to end all buzzer-beaters. The bouncing ball that bounced the heart of every fan of the Raptors. An eventual drop into the net that sent us all into absolute hysteria.

Perhaps no live sporting moment across the decade brought as much joy and exuberance as this one, and I still owe the people in my office a massive apology for just how excitedly I reacted when the shot went in.

It’s something that can be watched over and over again and still bring utter joy. Well, except maybe for 76ers fans.

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4. Sharks win the NRL premiership
As a Tasmanian, NRL wasn’t exactly that high on the priority list growing up. However given my love of Sharks and my mum growing up in Cronulla, I was always a lifelong Sharks fan.

My interest for most seasons of NRL basically came down to seeing how the Sharks were doing, watching games whenever they (rarely) showed them on Tasmanian TV and then watching the finals when the Sharks (rarely) made it.

This, of course, all changed come 2016, and just by circumstance I had decided to make the ultimate pilgrimage for a sports fan and do the double grand final trip.

I was at the MCG on the Saturday for my first AFL grand final to see the Western Bulldogs win the premiership, and then lucky enough to have my first ever NRL grand final feature my own team. And even more lucky after they won their first premiership.

James Maloney Cronulla Sharks NRL Finals 2016 Rugby League

(AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

I’ll never forget being in that stadium during those closing moments and witnessing all the joy around me as I celebrated with every single person in light blue that I could find.

I lost my voice and it didn’t come back for days on end, but who cares? The Sharks won the Premiership and I – alongside thousands of others – was happy. We will remember that moment for the rest of our lives.

3. Canada win gold at 2010 Vancouver Olympics
Back to the Olympics. The year was 2010. Canada were hosting their second ever Winter Olympics and had dominated the hell out of it.

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But one gold medal counted more than any other: men’s ice hockey.

And they won it. I’ve been a lifelong Canadian fan and have been obsessed with the country for as long as I can remember. I’m also going to marry one, but in 2010 that wasn’t even remotely on the cards. I just love Canada, okay?

To put into context how much I love them, in 2002 when Canada won gold at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics to break their 50-year drought, I was allowed to stay home from school to watch the game. I was obsessed.

So seeing Sidney Crosby slot home the goal to win the match in overtime made me feel like I was in Canada celebrating alongside everyone else. It was incredible. Seeing all the footage that emerged from the street parties afterwards was amazing, and one sporting moment that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

2. Germany win the 2014 World Cup
Remember earlier when I said I support another country more than my home nation in football? Well that country just happens to be Germany.

Why? Well, when I wanted to watch my first ever World Cup match in 1998, there was no Australia to cheer for. So I went for Germany, based nothing more on my love for Michael Schumacher. It was that simple.

So from there I was hooked. Germany was my team. Every World Cup I would remain glued to my TV and hope that finally Die Mannschaft could bring the trophy back for the first time since 1990. In 2014, they finally achieved that feat and boy was it a great moment.

Germany lift the World Cup after their 1-0 win over Argentina in the final

(Photo: Wiki Commons)

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The final itself? Yeah, not the best. The semi-final, though? Maybe the greatest game of football I have ever seen as the Germans obliterated Brazil 7-1. I still haven’t worked out how, either. But it doesn’t matter, because the 2014 World Cup was incredible to watch and the result was the perfect outcome for this long-suffering German fan.

1. Raptors win the NBA Championship
Even as I write these words, I still can’t believe that the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship. Seriously.

Any Raptors fan would tell you that no matter how hopeful they were that it could be done, it never would really happen, right? But it did. It actually did. And what a fantastic experience it was watching it.

Every single game throughout the NBA Playoffs was exciting to watch and I felt every single bounce, bump and play along the way. The Finals themselves brought all that drama, and I thought at that point: ‘Oh well, it’s great we’re here’, fully expecting to get bumped by the mighty Warriors.

But then the Raptors won a game. And another. And another. They were on the cusp. It was going to happen?

Game 5 came along and I sulked for two days straight after how close the Raptors came. But then Game 6 happened. And the trophy was ours.

With all that emotion, all that feeling and all that shock, it easily ends the decade as the greatest sporting moment of the 2010s. We The North.