2022 IN REVIEW: Serena’s farewell, Amusan’s world record, 8 other top moments in sports
The year 2022 was a great one for sports around the world, with fans and athletes experiencing many inspiring moments that brought lots of excitement and mixed emotions. In this article, Ripples Nigeria’s Ben Ugbana pens down 10 of these iconic moments.
10. Morocco’s historic World Cup semifinal run
Prior to the 2022 FIFA World Cup which held in Qatar between 21 November and 18 December, the farthest an African team had gone in the global tournament is the quarterfinals. But Morocco stunned the world as they subdued every obstacle on their way to reach the last four in Qatar.
Morocco defeated European giants including Belgium, Spain and Portugal on their way to that stage. But their beautiful run finally came to an end when they fell 2-0 to defending champions France in the semifinal, before going on to lose 2-1 to Croatia in the third place playoffs.
9. Serena Williams and Roger Federer’s emotional farewells
The world of sports knew the implications of no longer having Tennis greats like Williams and Federer on their screens during top competitions.
It was all love and tributes Serena played in her final tournament – the US Open – in September where she crashed out in the third round. The moments were beautiful, with social media giant, Twitter, adding a goat emoji to Serena’s name on its platform, denoting that the 23-time Grand Slam winner is the Greatest of All Time.
Many tributes also went out for Federer after the Swiss announced he was quiting the sport in September. Among the many tributes paid was that of rival Rafael Nadal, who tagged the day a sad one and expressed his gratitude to his fellow tennis great.
8. Senegal’s first-ever AFCON triumph
Before the competition which held in Cameroon between January and February 2022, Senegal forward Sadio Mane had predicted that he would play against his club-side teammate, Mohamed Salah of Egypt, in the final of the tournament. And it was exactly so.
Mane helped Senegal beat Egypt on penalties to seal a historic Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) triumph.
Few weeks after that victory, Senegal also defeated Egypt in a two-legged World Cup playoffs to land a ticket to Qatar.
7. Leon Edwards’ shock win over Nigeria’s Kamaru Usman in UFC
It was a Sunday morning of mixed emotions especially for Jamaicans and Nigerians as Edwards shocked the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) world by inflicting a first career defeat on Usman in their welterweight showdown at UFC 278 in Salt Lake City, Utah in August.
Despite bing behind on points in the fifth round, 30-year-old Edwards, who was a big underdog with bookmakers prior to the fight, landed a left high-kick to stun Nigeria’s pound-for-pound number one fighter.
6. Lionesses end England’s 56-year wait for a major international football title
After disappointments in the 2018 FIFA men’s World Cup in Russia and the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournaments for the Three Lions of England, it was all joy for football fans in the country after the women’s national team finally ended their wait for a major trophy.
The Lionesses defeated Germany in the final of the competition played in Wembley. Triumph for the Sarina Wiegman side comes 56 years after England’s men beat West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final, the only other major trophy by England’s men or women teams.
5. Rafael Nadal becomes leading Grand Slam winner
2021 ended with the top three men’s tennis players, Nadal, Federer and Novak Djokovic on 20 Grand Slam titles each, and so the new year was going to see one of them surpass the rest, and it was Nadal who got in the lead.
The Spaniard defeated Daniil Medvedev in a classic Australian Open final in January to make his’ 21, before going on to seal a 22nd Slam title when he defeated Casper Ruud in the men’s final of the French Open in June.
4. Golden State Warriors win fourth NBA championship in eight years
The 2022 NBA finals was as fun as it could be. Warriors sealed their fourth title in eight years as they defeated Boston Celtics 4-2 in the best-of-seven series to emerge champions in June.
3. Tobi Amusan bags world record in 100mH
Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan brought so much joy to fans across the country after she achieved a great feat during the World Athletics Championships at Oregun in the United States.
Amusan ran the 12.12s (0.9) in the semi-finals at the World Championship to improve the world record of 12.20s set by USA’s Kendra Harrison in London in 2016. She then followed that with a windy 12.06 (2.5m/s) to win the final.
Fans jubilated, especially as the Ogun-state born had finished fourth place at the 2019 World Athletics Championships as well as at the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But after her heroics at Oregun, she went on to also clinch the 100 meters hurdles gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK.
2. Team Nigeria’s ‘harvest of medals’ at Commonwealth Games
The Nigerian contingent to the 2022 Commonwealth Games hosted in Birmingham, United Kingdom outdid themselves and brought so much elation to fans. It was Nigeria’s best outing in recent times as they finished seventh on the medals table with 12 gold, 9 silver and 14 bronze medals.
A presidential reception was held for the team in September at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Gen Mohammed Buhari (rtd) splashed N200m on the athletes and handed Amusan a national award.
1. Messi finally wins football’s biggest prize with Argentina
The 2022 World Cup appeared to be a battle of the GOATs. Much was expected of football’s greats, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who were both leading their respective countries at the mundial. While Ronaldo’s Portugal were knocked out by Morocco in the quarterfinals, Messi led his country to the gold medal.
It was an epic final on 18 December, with France’s star boy, Kylian Mbappe almost stealing the show with a hat-trick, but Messi and his teammates finished as winners after the penalty shootout went in their favour.
It was Argentina’s first World Cup title in 36years, and many has said that the triumph has sealed Messi as the greatest player ever that graced the sport.
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