2020 has been one hell of a year, and so many things have happened and changed in these past few months ever since the coronavirus pandemic hit the shores of many countries.
We have gone through lockdowns, economic downturns, several businesses have closed and many other sectors such as sports have been hit quite hard due to restrictions imposed on many of the sporting events across the globe. It has been a bad year for almost all things sports, but there have still been those moments that truly defined it that can’t be left unnoticed.
Here are 10 sports moments that defined the year 2020;
1. 20-20 in 2020
The year 2020 finally saw two of tennis’ most successful athletes tie at 20 Grand Slam titles each. In 2019, Roger Federer broke Pete Sampras’ Grand Slams’ record, 13 titles when he beat Andy Roddick at Wimbledon to claim his 15th career Grand Slam. From then till 2020, Federer was the sole record holder and in 11 years he has managed to add only 5 titles to his tally.
In 2009, Rafa had 6 Grand Slam titles to his belt but over the years through hard work, he has managed to close the gap mainly through winning the French Open numerous times. In 2020, Rafa managed to tie with Federer at the top by clinching the French Open a record 13th time in his career.
2. The Lakers Show
After ten years of unsuccessful attempts, the Los Angeles Lakers finally won the NBA Championship. Lakers beat Miami Heat in six games to win the 2020 Championship which is the 17th in history tying them with Boston Celtics for most the won trophies in NBA history.
LeBron James also won his fourth Finals MVP accolade leaving him only behind Micheal Jordon who has won six. The 2020 triumph for the Lakers means they have won the Championship for the start of each of the three decades of this century (2000, 2010, 2020).
3. The Lockdown
In these modern times, no one thought that something which is not intercontinental warfare would put an indefinite pause on sports activities all over the world. But the coronavirus did!
By this time everyone knows how it spreads, and how sports could not prosper amidst a deadly pandemic that has taken millions of lives. The Global Lockdown cost the sports world billions of dollars in revenue and caused the cancellation and postponement of several sports tournaments.
4. The Return of Sports Post Lockdown
While in the middle of a pandemic, humanity needed something to soothe our hearts as the fight against the COVID-19 rages on. Sports activities were the priority and many sports bodies started to make preparations for their return.
Before sportsmen took their respective field of play, they were first put in quarantine and bubbles to avoid contact with the outside world. Several COVID-19 tests are carried out on them to eliminate the infected before they take the field.
Super Rugby Aotearoa was first sports tournament to return post lockdown and spectacularly with fans in the stadiums in New Zealand. For football, the German Bundesliga was the first to return to action. The return of sports also saw the massive participation of sportsmen and sports tournaments in the #BlackLivesMatter and #SayNoToRacism campaigns.
5. Joshua Cheptegei
The year 2020 is a year to remember for the Ugandan athlete. The 24-year old broke 3 World Records in 2020. Cheptegei broke the 5000m and 5km records in Monaco making the 10th man in history to hold both records simultaneously.
The 5km record had been standing for 20 years, but he broke it by 9 seconds hence creating a new record at 12:51 minutes. At the Diamonds League, he broke a 16-year-old 5000m record and set a new one at 12:35.36.
Cheptegei continued to Valencia where he bettered a 15-year-old 10000m record by 6seconds at 26:11.00. He might have missed out on the IAAF Athlete of the Year Award but for track athletes, he conquered 2020. The Ugandan star ended the year by taking a swipe at Ugandans who mocked in 2017 by saying, “You don’t deserve me in the actual sense.”
6. Liverpool and Leeds United Triumphs
Liverpool finally won an English first division title in the Premier League era. It has taken them 30 years and 10 managerial appointments to achieve this. Liverpool was fastest to win the league in terms of game weeks played and also the latest in terms the date on which they won the title.
On the same day Liverpool hoisted their Premier League title and so did Leeds United hoist their Championship title. The Yorkshire side returned to top-flight football for first time in 16 years after languishing in lower divisions all that time.
Leeds winning the Championship gave Marcelo Bielsa his first title while managing a club in European football.
7. Lewis Hamilton Wins 7th F1 Drivers’ Championship
At first, his dream was to win a championship just like his childhood hero Ayrton Senna which he achieved with his first title in 2008. Hamilton went on to surpass his heroes three then went for Manuel Fangio’s five which he successfully passed and then all eyes were on the summit now where Micheal Schumacher stood with 7 championships.
After 14 seasons in the F1, Hamilton has managed to give Schumacher company at the summit by equaling his seven championships tally when he won the Turkish GP in November 2020. He has also gone on to smash Schumacher’s most race wins and most pole positions record with 94 and 97 respectively. With more years of driving, Hamilton will undoubtedly climb and enjoy lone presence at a new summit.
Micky, son to Micheal Schumacher commented on Hamilton’s success saying, “I think one sentence my dad always used to say was ‘records are there to be broken’ and I think it’s everybody’s aim in this sport to do that.
8. Tyson Fury Beating Deontay Wilder
February before the world was locked down, one of the biggest fights of the year took place at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. Fury and Wilder took to the ring on that occasion.
Following their 2018 fight, Fury came into this game with a sole aim of ending Wilder’s 5-year reign as the WBC World Heavyweight Champion. Fury floored Wilder in the third and fifth rounds.
Fury outperformed Wilder throughout the match until in the 7th round when the towel was thrown in. “This was written in the stars,” Fury’s comment after beating Wilder.
9. Argentina Beating New Zealand at the Tri-Nations
2020 and its surprises never ceased to stop, in Nover at the Tri-Nations, the Pumas of Argentina got a historic win over the New Zealand All Blacks at the Bankwest Stadium Sydney.
Pumas’ fly-half Nicholas Sanchez scored a first-half try and six penalties to secure all Argentina’s 25 points against New Zealand’s 15.
Argentina’s win was outstanding given that they had not played at the top level since they get knocked out of the world cup more than a year ago and their players having not played competitive rugby for a long time due to the pandemic. They pulled off a shocker many in the rugby world did not expect.
10. Eternal Goodbyes
2020 like any other has sporting deaths which occur. This year has had many legends pass that we can’t name them all in this piece.
Shockers started on January 26 when a helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant, his daughter Giannis and 8 other sportsmen crashed killing all of them. Bryant spent all 20 seasons of his NBA career with Lakers winning them 5 championships with the last being 2010. His death heavily shook the world of sport with eulogies coming in from every sport.
The world of sport was shaken again at the end of November was Diego Maradona was announced dead. It was a moment of grief in Argentina, for the first time we saw a Boca fan passionately embrace a River Plate fan who was uncontrollably sobbing. In Naples, it was no different. Stadio San Paulo was renamed to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Among other notable deaths were 1982 World Cup winner with the Azzuri, Paolo Rossi, French rugby great Christophe Dominici, two-time tennis grand slam champion Angela Buxton, football coaches Gerard Houllier and Alejandro “Alex” Sabella.
Russian skater Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya also committed suicide in July in Moscow at just the age of 20. Mental health is real and it claims lives, please seek emotional help in case mental challenges arise.
Messi’s Fax to Barcelona saying he wanted to leave also shook the sports world. Many sports franchises brought up offers of a new challenge to the Argentine.
I also wanted to sign him for my local side, who doesn’t want the best at their team? We wish you all a victorious 2021 and thank you for reading our content and driving us through this tough year.
Author: Katende Basajjabaka
Katende writes about sports and occasionally technology.