A year of sport

PETER JONES, JOHN ALEXANDER CLAY WILSON
Last updated 07:13 26/12/2012
New Zealand's Nathan Cohen and Joe Sullivan
FAIRFAX NZ

GOLDEN BOYS: New Zealand's Nathan Cohen and Joe Sullivan.

Peter Jones
Clay Wilson, Peter Jones and John Alexander

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Once again, the sporting year has been a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, both at home and abroad.

From the ongoing soap opera that is our national cricket team to the comfortable reliability of our All Blacks, the international scene was always intriguing.

Marlborough sportspeople again punched above their weight, spearheaded by the inimitable Joseph Sullivan.

Our sports-writing team of Peter Jones, John Alexander and Clay Wilson offer their opinions and recollections of events that shaped the 2012 sporting year.

PETER JONES

Moments that made me proud to be a Kiwi and a Marlburian:

Obviously all of the Olympic medal efforts; although Sullivan/Cohen, Drysdale, Murray/Bond and Carrington stood out. Watching Richie McCaw in action during the early stages of the international season (has he ever played better?); learning that Marlborough had not one, but two pitchers in the Black Sox for their North American tour (Nik Hayes and Kurt Schollum, our first senior national representatives).

Moments that made me smile:

The Tasman Makos beating big brother Canterbury . . . once more; also the Makos' win over premiership side Waikato; watching hard-working prop Tim Perry progress from the Red Devils to the Makos to the Blues within a season; Roger Federer's Wimbledon win after so many doubted he could bag another Grand Slam; the Breakers clinching their second ANBL title in a row (without Kirk Penney); Manchester City's final game of the EPL season, one of the most dramatic ever played.

Moments that made me cringe:

The Ross Taylor/Brendon McCullum/Mike Hesson fiasco - when are the adults going to help run NZ cricket?; Sonny Bill Williams claiming the NZ heavyweight boxing title after beating a hopeless Auckland-based American in February, after his initial opponent dropped out when facing serious criminal charges; watching Val Adams struggle to keep her emotions in check as she struggled in the Olympic final after being left off the start list by an errant NZ official; watching Ostapchuk accept gold; seeing the Warriors slowly implode.

Personal highlights:

Keeping our double Olympic shot put champion company at the Nelson Sports Awards - Val's a class act and a huge drawcard. What a transition from the media-shy, taciturn young woman at her first Olympics in 2004; following the progress of Michael O'Keeffe as he went from unknown college footballer to Oly Whites goalkeeper at the Olympics.

JOHN ALEXANDER

Moments that made me proud to be a Kiwi and a Marlburian:

Every New Zealand medal win at the London Olympics, the best and most enjoyable Olympics in my lifetime; the All Blacks' superb performances in winning the inaugural rugby Championship and the way Steve Hansen injected new blood, a new style and enthusiasm despite it being just a few months on from winning the World Cup.

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Moments that made me smile:

Getting a text from Joseph Sullivan shortly after he won Olympic gold with Nathan Cohen. "Ring now" it said and I did, the first non-television interview less than an hour after his triumph; the Tasman Makos beating Canterbury in the ITM Cup.

Moments that made me cringe:

The Makos losing a thrilling Ranfurly Shield challenge against Taranaki at New Plymouth . . . why didn't we take that shot at goal late in the match?; every three-hour training run - the older I get the harder I try and the slower I get.

Personal highlight:

Watching Sullivan and Cohen's epic win at the Oxley Rocks Hotel in Picton with over 100 supporters, including many of his close friends and family. You could have heard a pin drop for the first 1000m, but over the last 500m the place went ballistic. The personal highlight of my 22 years in this job and I reckon the most exciting moment in New Zealand sport this year; competing in two superb Marlborough events - the Saint Clair vineyard half marathon and the New World Marlborough Marathon (running the half). Apart from the personal satisfaction of finishing in a reasonable time, watching hundreds of others delight in their achievements.

CLAY WILSON

Moments that made me proud to be a Kiwi and a Marlburian:

Hard to go past our Olympic medallists, No 1 undoubtedly being Sullivan and Cohen flying home to win when they looked dead and buried with 600m to go, followed closely by Mahe Drysdale's triumph; the All Blacks powering their way to the inaugural Rugby Championship crown, a seven-try, 39-point thumping of Argentina in La Plata the highlight; anything Richie McCaw did, on or off the field; Oly Whites goalkeeper Michael O'Keeffe doing Marlborough proud in London.

Moments that made me smile:

Valerie Adams finally getting the gold she deserved; watching the Chiefs beat the Crusaders in the Super Rugby final; Kieron Fonotia's last-minute try to give the Tasman Makos a brilliant victory over Canterbury; Marlborough prop Tim Perry's 25m runaway try for the Makos in the Ranfurly Shield match against Taranaki (I bet in 20 years time it will be 50m!); realising the Makos beat the Premiership and Championship winners during the 2012 season; watching Jesse Ryder in red-hot form for Wellington.

Moments that made me cringe:

Seeing the Log o' Wood slip away from the Makos' grasp for a second time; learning the NRL had banned the shoulder charge; anytime Marlborough lost to Nelson, in any sport at any level; the Black Caps captaincy debacle; the way Australian fast-bowler Peter Siddle carried on at the end of the drawn test against South Africa in Adelaide.

Personal highlight:

Winning another Marlborough senior club cricket one-day title with Celtic (and beating Wairau in a final, again, thanks Jonesy); captaining the Tasman men's hockey team to third equal at the national senior tournament.

We wish readers a merry Christmas. It's been a pleasure reporting on the accomplishments of Marlborough's sporting community in 2012 - let's do it again next year.

- The Marlborough Express

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