Best of times a result of hard work - and luck

LIAM HYSLOP
Last updated 05:00 27/12/2013
Mark Lundy
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ
NEW TRIAL SET: Mark Lundy's new trial will likely be heard in Wellington next June.
Steven Adams
Getty Images
IMPRESSIVE: Steven Adams has been doing well since joining the NBA.
David Cunliffe
STACY SQUIRES
LABOUR LEADER: David Cunliffe

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BIG YEAR FOR BIG MAN

Steven Adams burst into the sporting limelight.

Basketball fans have known about Adams for a long time, but it was not until June this year that his star really shone.

He became the first New Zealander to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft when the Oklahoma City Thunder made him the 12th overall pick of the 2013 draft.

He has made an immediate impact, and American pundits are predicting a big future for him.

GET OUT OF JAIL CARD

In 2000, Mark Lundy's wife and daughter were murdered.

A year later he was arrested, and the year after that convicted of murder.

Skip ahead to 2013 and his appeal is heard by the Privy Council. It quashed his conviction and Lundy is a free man until his retrial in June.

KO GOES PRO

Golfing sensation Lydia Ko must have figured that missing out on $1.2 million in prizemoney during her amateur career was not much fun, so she decided to turn professional.

It paid almost immediate dividends - in just her second tournament as a pro she won and netted $181,000. That followed a bumper year as an amateur as she won her second Canadian Open title and finished runner-up at the Evian Championship.

Ko has a world ranking comfortably in the top 10 and was named one of Time magazine's most influential teenagers in the world.

FROM THE DOGHOUSE ...

What a turnaround David Cunliffe had during 2013.

Last year he could not buy a friend after his failed leadership bid, but politics is best left to those with short memories and he wriggled back into Labour leadership contention by the time David Shearer stepped down from the post. Mr Cunliffe saw off challengers Grant Robertson and Shane Jones to snatch Labour's top job.

XERO TO HERO

Described as the darling of the stock exchange this year, Xero has enjoyed a more than 300 per cent rise in its share price in the past 12 months, despite posting financial losses throughout the year.

The company runs an online cloud accounting software business. It was founded in 2006 by technology entrepreneur Rod Drury, but it was not until this year that the growth really started and some of the world's leading technology investors started to buy shares in the company.

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MASTER AND COMMANDER

The master and commander, Sir Russell Coutts, again led a syndicate to America's Cup glory this year.

But it was not all smooth sailing for Oracle's Kiwi supremo. At 8-1 down in the final, he admitted he faced the prospect of being sacked by his boss, Larry Ellison, unless he could oversee the greatest comeback in America's Cup history.

We all know how that played out as Coutts' men soared to a victory that secured his multimillion-dollar salary.

It is just a shame that Team New Zealand do not have enough dosh to throw at Coutts to lure him back to his homeland.

PERFECT SEASON

Another big man having a big year was All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

He led the All Blacks to a perfect season - 14 wins, no losses, no draws.

His team scooped the International Rugby Board awards. Kieran Read was player of the year and the All Blacks the team of the year, while Hansen was named coach of the year.

During the final test of the year against Ireland, the team were down 22-7 at halftime and instead of flying off the handle at his players, Hansen kept it cool and calm and trusted that his men had the big-match experience to fall back on as they mounted a comeback.

Who knows if this was the reason the All Blacks came back to win 24-22, but, along with a bit of luck, it certainly contributed to what was an incredible fightback.

WESTIE WINNER

West Aucklanders are generally not known for being multimillionaires, but there is one lucky Westie out there with about $33 million sitting in his bank account. In October, a West Auckland man was driving to work when he heard that the biggest individual Lotto winner had still not claimed the booty.

He thought it could be him but went to the gym before checking his ticket because he thought he might not be able to concentrate on completing his exercise if he had won the big prize.

Naturally, he finished his sets before claiming his prize. No word on what he spent it on, but a new car was reportedly at the top of the list.

- Fairfax Media

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