January: The Dakar Rally
The year started off with a bang in the Jeddah desert, with two weeks of pure, exhilarating off-road racing to enjoy. With the Dakar’s long history spanning over 40 years, there were plenty of big names attracted back to the iconic rally. Veterans Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al-Attiyah returned to challenge with a few stage wins each, but both failed to take the final title. Stéphane Peterhansel was able to hold his record number of 14 Dakar titles, meanwhile, Argentina also did well with two winners for bikes and quads.
February: Australia Open
We then swing into February with the highly anticipated Australian Open. It is the first Majors tournament to truly kick off the ATP and WTA tours, and usually goes on through January. Djokovic was able to start his (unsuccessful) bid for a calendar Grand Slam - where one person wins all four major tournaments in one season - and was also able to defend his title from last year. Naomi Osaka was the women’s singles winner, and she clinched her fourth Grand Slam win in front of Melbourne. The Serbian’s attendance for next year has been cast in doubt as 2022 players will be under a vaccine mandate, but Osaka has expressed her desire to return soon after her hiatus.
March: Six nations come together for the Six Nations
With Spring came the Six Nations. As with most things this year, COVID had an impact, with the tournament beginning just months after the delayed 2020 Six Nations had finished, and all games being played behind closed doors. England, the previous champions, had a poor tournament, only beating Italy and France and ultimately finishing fifth. There was (socially-distanced) partying on the streets of Cardiff though as Wales came out as champions. They narrowly missed out on a grand slam, though, with their only loss coming in their final game against runners up, France.
April: The Boat Race
This year, The Boat Race moved from its home on the Tideway to The River Great Ouse. Being pre-freedom day, social distancing was still necessary, therefore it was held in the small City of Ely - the home of Cambridge University's boat club. The atmosphere was very different, with no crowds allowed along the river bank. The course was a considerably smaller, three miles, with Cambridge University taking the (arguably, close) win by almost a length. This is their third consecutive win, and their 85th win since records began in 1829.
Gabbi de Boer
Manchester City secured their fifth Premier League title last season after finishing top of the table above Manchester United with 86 points. A successful summer transfer window brought in the likes of defender Rúben Dias and winger Ferran Torres. Early defeat to Tottenham left the team with only 12 points after eight matches. In a season like no other due to the pandemic, Manchester City were able to turn it around and outperform their opponents and secure the league trophy. Securing wins over the likes of Everton and Liverpool, Pep Guardiola’s team went on to have 11 straight away wins which equalled records. Ending ten-points clear of second place, City secured their third Premier League title in four years.
Running from 28 June to 11 July, the annual Wimbledon Championships graced the television screens of tennis fans worldwide. What happened, and who won?
Top-ranking singles player Novak Djokovic won the Gentleman's Singles against Matteo Berrettini. Diede De Groot won Ladies' Wheelchair Singles, and notably ranks first in both singles and doubles. Ashleigh Barty, also top-ranked in singles, won the Ladies' Singles. Joachim Gerard won the Gentlemen's Wheelchair Singles.
In doubles, Desirae Krawczyk won Mixed Doubles. Elise Mertens won Ladies' Doubles and Mate Pavic won Gentlemen's Doubles.
These players came from Serbia, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, the US, Croatia and the UK to vie for these legendary titles. Although the pandemic no doubt made it difficult to plan and execute the event, the tennis world's best players still performed admirably in this year's championships.
July: UEFA Euro "2020"
After a slow start including a draw against Scotland, Gareth Southgate's England found their way to their first-ever Euro final. Despite falling short in an agonising penalty shootout, the Three Lions galvanised the nation into dreams of football coming home. With a tangibly bright team spirit and a potentially world-class generation of talent, England's prospects of success have been reignited. Euro "2020" may be looked back on as a missed chance at glory, but it could also be seen as a stepping stone to success. 2018 they clutched a semi-final. 2021, second-place. In 2022, can England go one further?
August: Olympics - with a dive into Tom Daley
This year, I think the real sporting highlight has to be Tom Daley's Gold Medal achievement. Thirteen years after his Olympic debut, Daley walked away from the Tokyo "2020" Olympics with a gold medal in the 10m synchro alongside Matty Lee, which to finishes off his collection of previously won medals.
However, while this is a fantsic achievement for Team GB, I think what we remember the most from the Olympic Games was Daley's pool-side knits! What became a pretty icon moment in Olympic history, merely started as a passtime for Daley. The country became just as obsessed with Daley's knits as they did with they Olympics themselves, and the question on everyones minds was "what on earth is he making?".
Not only did Daley walk away from the Games with the Gold, but also a purple dog jumper for his K9 friend!
September: The Great North Run
In September of 2021, the Great North Run made its return to the streets of Newcastle after being halted in Covid purgatory during 2020. The world's biggest half-marathon attracts a wide array of athletes and spectators every year with families across the city supporting friends, family and strangers in their attempts, many of whom take the opportunity to raise money for a variety of good causes. The event closes many of the streets around Newcastle and Gateshead across the river and often attracts some of the world's best, this year being won by British olympian Marc Scott.
October: MPNLM Castleball Championships
In October, in a small town in Hampshire, in an annual ceremony the details of which the locals keep close, three dozen competitors stanced up for the 2021 MPNLM Castleball Championships. Thousands turned up in person and even more tuned in online for one of sport’s most riveting yearly events.
Tensions were high and security was out in full force in anticipation of Castleball’s notoriously rowdy fanbase. 2020’s competitions resulted in 3 injuries, a significant drop from 2019’s statistics. It was an especially fierce competition this year, with 2 successive world records for quickest door-jump being set and broken.
Ultimately, the delegation from Manchester, led by star Moat-Straddler Jim Whelmsley won out, but really, it was the dedicated and lion-hearted fans of the sport that won.
November: T20 Final... and England aren't in it!
On November 14th, Australia won the 2021 T20 World Cup against their neighbours, New Zealand. New Zealand started slow until captain Kane Williams posted a wondrous score of 84. The winners started quickly and easily chased down the 172 runs - the only bump in the road for Australia was the wicket that Trent Boult took in the middle of an over. Australia won with 8 wickets (7 balls) remaining.
December: The Hero World Challenge
The Hero World Challenge took place over four days at the Albany Gold Club int he Bahamas, where the 18-hole par 72 course was established in 1961. Norwegian Viktor Hovland, with a total of -18, won the purse of $3,500,000.
He is known to have one of the best drives in the world due to averaging 300-plus yards off the tee. Whereas England's own Rory McIlroy came 18th in the competition with a not-so-impressive score of -6.