To mark the final issue of 2013, Wessex Scene looks back on another incredible year of sporting action. This year has again been ground breaking for British sport with athletes excelling, particular in the Summer months, in their respective events. While following the Olympic euphoria of the previous year was always going to be a tough task, our sporting icons have gone some distance in attempting to replicate the unprecedented success of 2012. The calendar year has also marked the culmination of exceptional careers and the induction of new competitions, from the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and David Beckham to the first season of the Women’s Super League. So what has been the biggest British sporting achievement of 2013? Here are just a few to help you cast your mind back on another great 12 months…
Possibly the stand out individual achievement of the year occurred at SWI9 in early July as Andy Murray become the first British male winner of Wimbledon for 76 years. No longer are we muttering the name Fred Perry ashamedly under our breaths as the Scot beat World Number One Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the final to claim his second Grand Slam title. Whilst the draw favoured him hugely after surprise defeats to Federer and Nadal early on, Murray held his nerve (and his serve) to extinguish any remaining doubts that he wasn’t the real deal. Murray even disposed of his often somewhat sulky reputation by adopting the traditional celebration of climbing into the player’s box to enjoy the moment with his family and entourage.
England winning the Ashes
England’s rampant 3-0 series victory over Australia earlier this year was one of the most comprehensive results in recent Ashes history as the under par visitors were put to the sword. The result was a foregone conclusion after a draw in the third test meant England had an insurmountable 2-0 lead which helped them retain the urn and extend their winning streak to three series victories against Australia in a row. Ian Bell dominated with the bat and Jimmy Anderson tormented with the ball, it is just a shame the team failed to rekindle their form in the defence of their trophy back in Australia this Winter.
The South-African born golfer ended England’s unwanted record of 17 years without a Major Champion by claiming success in the US Open at Merion, Pennsylvania in June. Rose edged the rest of the field on the fourth and final day with a level par 70 to become the first Englishman since Nick Faldo to lift one of the sport’s four major trophies. Whilst leading Americans such as Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan had the edge over him earlier on in the week, Rose held his nerve in tricky conditions to ensure a momentous victory and duly ended the year third in the world rankings.
For the second year running the Tour de France champion is British with Chris Froome following in fellow Team Sky rider’s footsteps Bradley Wiggins to take home the coveted yellow jersey. Froome, who finished second to Wiggins in 2012, was the unequivocal favourite going into the event and justified that label with a strong and professional ride to claim victory in a margin of over four minutes in the 100th edition of the race. In a sport that has been severely tarnished over recent years by the Lance Armstrong scandal, Froome, in the aftermath of his victory, went onto hail the unity of its competitors in the face of continued controversy surrounding performance enhancing drugs.
Lions Success in Australia
The British and Irish Lions ended a 16 year wait for a series win with a narrow 2-1 series victory over the Wallabies in Australia. The team, mostly dominated by Welsh internationals and under the stewardship of Wales coach Warren Gatland, recovered admirably after a devastating 16-15 loss in the second test to obliterate their opponents 41-16 in the final match of the series. Leigh Halfpenny proved to be the man of the match and potentially the series, scoring 21 of the visitors’ points in Sydney; a record points score for a Lions player. Whilst Gatland was heavily criticised for his Welsh tendencies, particularly with the dropping of Lions icon Brian O’Driscoll, his choices undoubtedly paid off as the likes of George North and Jamie Roberts overpowered the hapless Aussies.