The good and the great of 2018

2018-12-28 23:23

From Tiger Woods winning his first title in five years to France winning their second Fifa World Cup in 20 years, writes Silver Sibiya.

1. Lewis Hamilton

The UK driver won his fifth F1 title at the Mexico Grand Prix, equalling the great Juan Manuel Fangio, and only two behind German legend Michael Schumacher’s record.

This led to some pundits saying he might become the greatest driver of all time if he continues with his scintillating form.

The 33-year-old might have to be patient because Sebastian Vettel, his biggest rival, might stand in his way.

2. Caster Semenya

The South African middle-distance runner broke Zola Budd’s 34-year record in the Commonwealth Games 1 500m race, making it a standout performance.

She set the stage early in the year atthe Commonwealth Games, where she brought home gold medals in the 800m and 1 500m.

She was explosive when she decimated the 1 500m national record set by Budd in 1984, clocking in at four minutes and 71 seconds (4:00.71) – a vast improvement to Budd’s 4:01.81.

She became the third woman to win the 800m and 1 500m Commonwealth Games gold in the same year.

3. Banyana Banyana

The team made history in Ghana by qualifying for their maiden Fifa World Cup that will be played in France next year.

Desiree Ellis’ charges have been on fire this year defending their Cosafa Cup title and going on to dominate the Africa Women Cup of Nations in Ghana losing out on penalties to their nemesis Nigeria.

It was the second time the two teams met at this tournament with Banyana winning 1-0 in their opener against the same old foe.

4. Real Madrid

The Spanish giants became the first team to win the Uefa Champions League title for a third successive year.

They beat Liverpool 3-1 in the final played in Kiev, Ukraine.

5. Novak Djokovic

The Serbian came back from injury to win two Grand Slam titles this year.

After bowing out in the opening stages of the Australian Open, Indian Wells and the Miami Open, he finally found his mojo to win at Wimbledon, a feat he repeated at the US Open.

6. France

Les Bleus won the 2018 Fifa World Cup trophy against surprise finalists Croatia.

With all the big guns – Germany, Argentina, Brazil and Spain – bowing out earlier than expected, France seized the opportunity and went all the way.

They crushed Lionel Messi’s Argentina 4-1 in a last-16 match, then beat Uruguay in the quarterfinals, following that with a win over Belgium and eventually won the final.

7. Luka Modric

The Croatian midfielder, who was instrumental in his country reaching the World Cup final, deservedly won the 2018 Ballon d’Or.

In the process he broke Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s decade-long stranglehold on the prestigious award. Besides his World Cup conquests, he was also a key member of the Real Madrid that won the Uefa Champions League.

8. Springboks

Beating New Zealand 36-34 in Wellington in September in a Rugby Championship clash will go down in the history books as one of the greatest moments in South African sport.

The arrival of Rassie Erasmus after the sacking of Allister Coetzee in February seems to have brought a breath of fresh air and some spring in the Boks’ step.

Erasmus pulled a rabbit out of his hat by appointing Siya Kolisi, making him the first Boks’ black skipper.

9. Tiger Woods

Winning his 80th PGA Tour title after multiple surgeries was a great achievement for the former world number one.

Many people had written Woods off after going through multiple back operations.

Some even suggested that he should call it quits. But he rose again this year and finally completed an astonishing comeback to win the season-ending Tour Championship and record his first win in five years.

Although it was not a major, the signs are there that the 14-time major champion could still be one of the contenders in 2019.

10. Kevin Anderson

Beating defending champion Roger Federer at the Wimbledon quarterfinals was a great feat for the South African.

He had another great year following last year when he reached his first Grand Slam final at the US Open.

He had a memorable Wimbledon, beating one of the greatest exponents of the game – Federer – in the quarterfinals.

Anderson also reached his career best ranking at number five.

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May 19 2019