Top 10 sporting moments of 2012

Last updated 10:40 05/01/2013
Andy Murray
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DISBELIEF: Andy Murray reacts after winning this year's US Open.

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These are the ten 2012 sporting moments we will long remember, even if the result for the team we follow wasn't quite the right one.

TENNIS: Andy Murray's rise

For so long, Scotsman Andy Murray had been the bridesmaid, the clear number four outside the big three of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic - so close yet so far to glory. Well, 2012 was the year Andy Murray finally stepped up and became a winner in his own right. A heartbreaking loss to Roger Federer at Wimbledon in front of an expectant nation failed to deter the grumpy, moody Murray who bounced back a month later at the same venue to beat Federer for Olympic gold. That proved a catalyst for his biggest success yet - although he nearly threw it away (again) in the US Open Final against Djokovic. 

ATHLETICS: Usain Bolt's magnificent reign continues

Has there been any runner greater? The calibre of the field of fastest men in the world has never been better with Yohan Blake amongst others snapping at Bolt's heels, but the giant Bolt still managed to comfortably defend his 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m Olympics' titles and continue to enhance his claims as possibly the greatest runner the world has ever seen. Let's just hope he's not doping.

RUGBY UNION: England beating the All Blacks

The World Champion All Blacks may have been utterly dominant for much of 2012 but the loss at the end of the season may be the match we'll remember most. England, on the back of home defeats to Australia and South Africa, stepped up big time to thrash the All Blacks 38-21. It was the biggest loss by the All Blacks to England in years, and belatedly lit up a rather stale international season. 

ROWING: New Zealand's golden summer at Eton Dorney

New Zealand was always going to excel on the water at the Olympics and our team did just that in London, winning five medals and capping off our most successful Olympics since 1988. Lisa Carrington won New Zealand's 100th overall Olympic medal with gold in the K1 200m canoe final. Behind a dominant Great Britain, that was not a bad effort at Eton Dorney.

Most memorable was Nathan Cohen and Joe Sullivan's surge from 4th with 500m left to win their double sculls final at a canter. It wasn't the perfect race like their compatriots, Hamish Bond and Eric Murray or Mahe Drysdale, but at least they got the perfect finish which was all that mattered.

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SWIMMING: Michael Phelps' last ever gold medal

It was always going to be tough to beat the efforts of Beijing 2008 when Phelps won a staggering eight gold medals in the pool and the initial signs in London were not good for Phelps as he finished well behind teammate Ryan Lochte in the first event. However, form is temporary and class is permanent as they say and Phelps bounced back to win his last ever gold medals and cap off the most illustrious career of any swimmer.

OLYMPICS: Britain's Golden Summer

What a time to be British. There were expectations that the Brits would perform well and win plenty of medals but not at the magnitude that eventually transpired - a third place finish, behind established powerhouses USA and China, and ahead of old foes like Germany, France, Argentina and of course, those Australians.

They blitzed all asunder at the velodrome, in the rowing lake and even on the track. In the end, Britain finished with 65 medals, 29 of those being gold. Established stars Sir Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins, Ben Ainslie, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis all won in front of their home crowd, joined by new stars, Laura Trott, Jason Kenny, taekwando jin, and Jade Jones, amongst others. It was inspiration at its best - and that is an understatement to a games that I think is the best edition yet in the modern era.

FOOTBALL: Spain win EURO 2012

As Spain headed to Eastern Europe, there was enormous weight of expectation on the reigning world and European champions. Spain was still clearly the best team in the world and the clear favourites to win the final but the likes of Germany and the Netherlands had apparently closed the gap and France and Italy were not far off too. Spain never looked anywhere near their best and signs were there as they just about held on to beat France in the quarterfinal and somehow stayed alive despite Portugal being the better side in the semifinal in Warsaw.

With Italy having surprised the Germans in the semifinal, the final in Kiev was a rematch of their first game in the round robin - that game ended in a fair 1-1 draw. The final was nowhere as close as Spain took the early lead and totally dominated with their tika takka pass the ball around football. Spain should have been 5-0 up at halftime with the number of chances they had. As it was, the game finished 4-0 at full time, with the Chelsea duo of Fernando Torres and Juan Mata finishing off the tiring Italians having come off the bench.

Kiev will undoubtedly remembered as Spain's finest performance out of the three finals they've played in the last four years.

CYCLING: Bradley Wiggins wins Tour de France

For so long, Britain trailed the rest of Europe - and the world - went it came to racing the Grand Tours, including the greatest of them all, the Tour de France. In 2012, a Briton was finally crowned winner on the Champs Elyssees for the first time. Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky totally obliterated the opposition including 2011 winner Cadel Evans' BMC team. It was the perfect appetiser to further glories on two wheels for anyone donning the Union Jack that summer.

GOLF - Europe's Ryder Cup comeback win

"This one's for him," an emotional Europe captain, Juan Maria Olazabal dedicated Europe's dramatic Ryder Cup win at Medinah, Illinois to his friend, the late great Seve Ballesteros, and then broke in to tears.

It was dramatic. USA looked set to take back the Ryder Cup they lost to Europe in 2010, leading 10-6 going in to the last day and only needing 4.5 points to win, while Europe needed eight just to force a draw and retain the Ryder Cup. Cue the greatest performance by a Ryder Cup team in history. Some of the golf played was electric and the Americans just did not know what had hit them with an out-of-form Martin Kaymer putting to seal a draw. Tiger Woods' subsequent collapse in the 18th ensured that Europe would win the cup outright.

Golf is not usually a sport of dramatics but on this weekend it delivered enough drama to last most sports fans' lifetimes.

FOOTBALL: Manchester City win the Premier League title at the death

Undoubtedly, the last five minutes of the English Premier League season are unrivalled for drama, emotion and excitement as the sporting moment of 2012. The greatest five minutes of football you'll ever witness? You bet. Even fans who don't support either Manchester club would struggle to have kept the tears and emotion back.

We all know what happened. Man City looked set to take the title against relegation battling QPR. Man United held on to a 1-0 win to do their bit at Sunderland, then QPR take a shock lead against Man City despite having Joey Barton sent off only for Edin Dzeko to equalize in the last minute of normal time and then Aguero to score the goal that sent the blue half of Manchester in to ecstasy.

It was the greatest finish to a football season ever - a season that had already been hailed as the greatest ever in Premier League history by many. It was certainly one we won't forget in a hurry and will always link 2012 with.

So here's to a magic 2012. 

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