2019 turned out to be one of the most memorable years for the sporting world which was witness to several enthralling on-field performances giving fans their fair share of moments of joy and heartbreaks. From England winning their maiden ICC Cricket World Cup (ODI) title to Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic scripting history at the All England Club – sports lovers saw it all in 2019. It was also the year of remarkable comebacks and that of an underdog team punching way above their weight to rewrite the history books.
Here at India.com, we recall the top 10 sporting moments of 2019:
1. England’s Maiden Win in ODI World Cup Triumph
The ICC World Cup 2019 final between England and New Zealand was easily one of the most dramatic and thrilling encounters in cricket’s rich history. Either side refused to give other an inch and gave their all to clinch the coveted silverware. The contest went into the Super Over after both the teams finished with the same score. As luck would have it, the Super Over also ended with the scores level but England edged ahead on the boundary count rule at the storied Lord’s Cricket Ground on July 14. England’s joy was New Zealand’s heartbreak who finished as runners-up for the second successive occasion at the showpiece event after 2015.
2. PV Sindhu Clinches Historic Gold at BWF World Championships
India’s ace shuttler PV Sindhu produced one of the most commanding and dominating performance at Badminton’s (BWF World Championships) biggest stage to create history in Basel. Sindhu defeated her long-time nemesis Nozomi Okuhara 21-7, 21-7 in straight games to become the first Indian shuttler to win a gold medal at the world’s event.
Courtesy the win, the 24-year-old avenged her loss to Okuhara in 2017 final. En route to her maiden World title, Sindhu defeated the likes of Tai Tzu Ying in the quarterfinals, Chen Yufei in the semis, and former world champ (2017) Okuhara in the title clash.
3. Djokovic, Federer Script History With Longest Wimbledon Final
It would not be an exaggeration to say that July 14 was arguably the most eventful day of the sporting calendar in 2019. Apart from the fascinating Men’s ODI World Cup final, few miles away from the Lord’s the world was witnessing another titanic battle with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic battling hard for the Wimbledon men’s singles title.
Former world number one Djokovic defeated 20-time slam winner Federer 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 13-12 in a contest which lasted four hours and 57 minutes – the longest ever Wimbledon final. It was settled by an unprecedented tie-break as Djokovic lifted a fifth Wimbledon trophy.
4. Reds Dominance! Liverpool Win First Champions League Crown Since 2005
After falling short of winning the Champions League in 2018, Liverpool came out all guns blazing to beat Tottenham Hotspur to win the all-English Champion’s League final 2-0 in Madrid. It was Liverpool’s sixth Champions League (European Cup) crown. They now rank third in the all-time list behind Real Madrid (13) and Milan (7).
Ahead of the final, the Reds had staged a remarkable comeback after being beaten 0-3 by Barcelona in the first leg. Jurgen Klopp’s men summoned their best in a remarkable 4-0 win (4-3 aggregate) that sent them to a second straight final. The semifinal clash between Liverpool and Barcelona was the highlight of men’s football this year.
5. After WC Heroics, ‘One-Man Army’ Ben Stokes Stuns Australia in The Ashes
After his heroics in the World Cup 2019 final versus New Zealand, Ben Stokes played a knock for the ages as England pulled off one of the greatest comebacks of all time in the third Ashes Test against Australia. After getting bowled out for a dismal 67 in the first innings, England looked down and out at 286/9 in their pursuit of an unlikely 359-run target. However, Stokes rose to the occasion as the Christchurch-born allrounder clubbed eight sixes and 11 fours in a memorable unbeaten 135 to lead England to a record run-chase on day four at Headingley.
6. Inspired by ‘Fearless’ Megan Rapinoe, USA Win Record Fourth FIFA Women’s WC Title
You simply cannot look beyond USA if you’ve to pick one team that bossed the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup with their sheer dominating and fearless style of play. From start to finish – Megan Rapinoe and Co. lived up to their billing as the tournament favourites by tearing apart every side which came their way.
Led by Golden Ball and Golden Boot winner Rapinoe (six goals, three assists), the American women outscored their opponents, 26-3, while winning all seven matches en route to their record-extending fourth World Cup title. In the final, USA defeated Netherlands 2-0 to cap off their magnificent campaign. Earlier in December, Rapinoe capped of her memorable year by winning the women’s Ballon D’Or award. Meanwhile, Lionel Messi claimed a record sixth men’s Ballon d’Or award.
7. Tiger Woods Ends 11-Year Long Hiatus With Augusta Masters Title
This has to be one of the most remarkable comeback stories of all time. Legendary golfer Tiger Woods ended the wait of his first major title in 11 years at Augusta Masters 2019. It was his 15th major victory overall. Woods had not won a Masters championship since 2005, or a PGA Championship since 2009. During these years, the American ace battled issues in his personal life, scandals which tainted his image and injuries threatened to finish off his career.
At Augusta 2019, trailing Italy’s Francesco Molinari, he fired 2-under-par 70 and finished at 13-under 275. He claimed his fifth Green jacket which proved that he’s still more than capable of competing at the highest level.
8. Historic! Iranian Women Attend Football Match
For the first time in nearly 40 years, Iranian women were allowed to attend a men’s football match in the capital city Tehran. This happened after FIFA’s intervention the global body threatened to suspend Iran’s membership over controversial male-only policy.
FIFA ordered Iran to allow women access to the stadiums without restrictions and in numbers determined by the demand for tickets. The directive came after a 29-year-old fan, Sahar Khodayari, dubbed the ‘Blue Girl’, died after setting herself on fire outside a Tehran court in fear of being jailed to attend a match.
More than 3,000 female fans watched from a special women-only section in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium as their men’s national team beat Cambodia 14-0 in a World Cup qualifying match.
9. Sensational Simone Dominates World Championships
USA’s Simone Biles presented a strong case for herself to be dubbed as one of the greatest athletes of all time by thoroughly dominating the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart this year. The 22-year-old pocketed five gold medals out of the six medal events, clinching the team competition and all-around finals.
Courtesy her jaw-dropping performance, Biles took her overall tally to 25 medals (19 of which are gold) to become the most decorated gymnast — male or female — at the World Championships. She surpassed Belarus gymnast Vitaly Scherbo’s record of 23 medals.
10. #WeTheNorth! Toronto Raptors Create History by Winning NBA Title
Another inspiring story from the 2019 closet was the victory of Canada’s lone NBA franchise – Toronto Raptors. Led by a remarkable postseason from Kawhi Leonard (30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds per game in playoffs), Raptors became the first non-US team to win the coveted NBA title.
In the summit clash, Raptors defeated Golden State Warriors 114-110 road victory in Game 6 to script the greatest turnaround in basketball history. The loss ended the Warriors’ quest for a third consecutive NBA title.