Top Sporting Moments of 2015

looks back at some of sport’s most talked-about moments from last year

1. Great Britain’s Davis Cup Victory

Credit: Yan Caradec

Credit: Yan Caradec

The most important competition of the world of tennis, the Davis Cup, is held between men’s international tennis teams annually.Described as the ‘World Cup’ of tennis, it’s organised by the International Tennis Federation, and follows the classic ‘knock out’ formula which makes for some nail-baiting moments.

You could be forgiven for not realising that the Davis Cup is on, as unlike the equivalent rugby or football tournaments, the competition isn’t played across just four or five weeks, but rather matches are played on four interspersed weekends throughout the year. This makes the tournament something of an epic.However, this year, the Davis Cup came into the spotlight as Great Britain triumphed over the four weekends, beating the US, France, Australia, and, in the final, Belgium to become the world champions of tennis.

The team, captained by tennis veteran Leon Smith and dominated by Andy Murray and his brother Jamie, succeeded in giving GB their first tournament win in 79 years, and were also crowned as BBC Sports Personality’s ‘Team of the Year’ last December as the final icing on the cake.


2. New Zealand defend their Rugby World Cup crown

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

The autumn of 2015 saw England play host to the Rugby World Cup, which, from the moment of the opening ceremony – feat giant easter egg-cum rugby ball – proved to be a memorable one to say the least.

We saw one of the biggest shocks in the history of Rugby Union as minnows Japan triumphed over South Africa in the pool stage, England managed to become the first principal host nation in the history of the tournament to fail to make it out of the pools, and the other home nations all fared slightly better by reaching the quarter-finals.
But the tournament belonged to New Zealand, who rampaged to the final, doling out a humiliating 62-13 defeat to France in the process, and beat Australia to defend their world champion status earned four years earlier in 2011, claiming their third world title.


3. Wales and Northern Island qualify for Euro 2016

Image: Nazionale Calcio

Image: Nazionale Calcio

Something tells me this one will be a bit of a sore point for any Scottish football fans out there, but the fact remains that 2015 served as an unprecedentedly successful year for British men’s national teams.

Wales and Northern Ireland have qualified for their first ever European Championships, with Chris Coleman’s Welsh side beating the world’s number one ranked team Belgium in the process, and Michael O’Neill’s Northern Irish side finishing top of their own qualifying group.

England managed to make history and qualify for the tournament with a 100 per cent record by winning every game, with young stars like Harry Kane, John Stones and Ross Barkley sparkling along the way. A year to remember.


4. England prove they’re good at football

Image: James Boyes

Image: James Boyes

Well, the England Women’s Team did anyway.

2015 saw the seventh FIFA Women’s World Cup held in Canada, and while the tournament was won by the USA, the England Women’s Team reached the semi-finals, with captain Steph Houghton and right-back Lucy Bronze shining throughout as the team earned memorable victories over Norway and hosts Canada.

England ultimately came third in the tournament, giving English football its best tournament performance since the men’s team won the World Cup all the way back in 1966.


5. Usain Bolt dominates the World Athletics Champs

Credit: Dr Clifford Choi

Credit: Dr Clifford Choi

The World Athletics Championships were held in Beijing in August, with Usain Bolt grabbing the headlines and proving he’s still the best by winning yet another three gold medals, in the Men’s 100 Metres, 200 Metres and 4×100 Metres events.

The Beijing Bird’s Nest Stadium proved yet again to be a successful venue for the man dubbed Lightning Bolt, where he had previously announced himself as the world’s fastest man at the Beijing Olympics of 2008, when he also won three gold medals.

Elsewhere, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford flew the flag superbly for Team GB, with the two athletes winning gold in the Women’s Heptathlon and Men’s Long Jump respectively, as did Mo Farah, who won double gold in the 5000 and 10000 metre events.
Our athletes are a force to be reckoned with; a cohort of rising stars emerged from the 2012 Olympics. However, there will only be one face of athletics in years to come, and it will be Usain’s.


6. MayPac is the biggest pay-per-view event in sporting history

Image: Global Panorama

Credit: Global Panorama

It was a matter of much deliberation whether this should go in at all; I, like many others, was a much disgruntled boxing fan back in May last year when I sat up till 5AM to watch what was a disgustingly underwhelming fight.

But, after all, when Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. met at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for what had been billed as boxing’s ‘Fight of the Century’, it broke records in becoming the most successful pay-per-view event in sporting (and television) history, taking in a total of $410 million.

As already mentioned, the Welterweight title bout was massively underwhelming, with critics citing Mayweather’s impenetrable, defensive style as the reason why.
The fact that this fight happened at all though was massive; promoters had been trying to arrange it for six whole years, between what are arguably two of the greatest fighters of their generation.

Mayweather eventually won over the Filipino Pacquiao on points at the end of a long, uninteresting and uninspiring battle. Despite the lacklustre performance by both fighters, Mayweather adding to his unbeaten record of 47-0 at the time was a massively  impressive feat, proving that he is one of the greatest pound for pound boxers ever.

Since the fight, a lawsuit has been filed against the Pacquiao camp for failing to disclose Pacquiao’s injury before the fight, the Las Vegas residents felt that they and other pay-per-view customers had been decieved.

It seems conclusive that Mayweather’s significantly bright light has only gently dimmed over the years – he’s still swinging the punches to earn him his big name status, even if his heyday has passed.


7. Lewis Hamilton claims his third F1 championship

Image: Dave Wilson

Image: Dave Wilson

2015 proved to be another good year for British Motor Racing, with Mr Personality Bypass himself Lewis Hamilton becoming the outright winner of his third Formula One Drivers’ Championship, defending his title from 2014, and claiming victory with three races to spare.

Hamilton came first in 10 of the 19 races in the F1 season, finishing atop the table an entire 59 points ahead of his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg who was in second place.
Hamilton and Rosberg also helped Mercedes claim the 2015 Constructors’ Championship for the second time running.

Rosberg can often be found on his YouTube channel walking on a wire in Ibiza, doing memory games while doing press-ups and racing a shopping trolley down a hill in Monaco. The strains and stresses of being a professional Formula 1 driver must get too much at times.


8. England triumph over Aus in Cricket’s Ashes Series

Credit: Will

Credit: Will

The summer of 2015 saw England play host to the Ashes Series, in which they reigned victorious by three tests to two across five test matches.It was a stylish victory, and one that has arguably re-booted the ashes in England’s favour – the side has a renewed vigour.

After the first two tests were shared one apiece, England claimed the third and fourth tests in emphatic fashion, and Australia’s humiliating defeats in these tests saw their captain Michael Clarke retire at the end of the series.

The fourth test was the most notable of the series, not only being the one that secured victory for England, but seeing Australia’s first innings of 60 runs become the quickest ever first innings in test match history, much to the detriment of the Australian side.


9. McGregor becomes UFC Featherweight Champion

Credit: Low Kick MMA

Credit: Low Kick MMA

The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) has come a long long way since the only reason people had heard of it was thanks to Monica’s boyfriend Pete, played by Jon Favreau, wanting to become the Ultimate Fighting Champion in the third season of Friends. It was quite aptly named ‘The One With the Ultimate Fighting Champion.’

With there being a marked lack of interesting superstars in the world of boxing at the moment, UFC and its brand of edge-of-the-seat mixed martial arts has become immensely popular.

Cue Conor McGregor, enigmatic Irishman, in a hotly-anticipated Featherweight Champion bout with the then champion from Brazil, José Aldo. What ensued made UFC history; McGregor managed to deliver a knockout blow to Aldo within 13 seconds, in the quickest title fight ever seen in the UFC.

He’s since become a significant name both in and out of his own sport for his snarling yet charismatic persona.


10. The honourable mentions

Image: Jaguar MENA

Image: Jaguar MENA

It was tough to whittle down the year’s top sporting moments to just 10, and as such there have been numerous omissions. Elsewhere in the year’s sport, Britain’s Chris Froome won cycling’s Tour de France for the second time in three years, and in women’s tennis, Serena Williams won three majors but failed to complete her “Serena Slam” after not winning at Wimbledon.

“The Special One” himself José Mourinho was sacked by Chelsea just seven months after guiding them to a Barclays Premier League title, Stuart Bingham surprised pundits by winning Snooker’s World Championship, and in international football the Netherlands flopped spectacularly in Euro 2016 qualification, failing to qualify.

Golf saw the rise of the 22 year old Jordan Spieth, who claimed the Masters and US Open titles, Rugby League saw Kevin Sinfield’s Leeds Rhinos complete a historic treble by winning the Super League Grand Final in October, and finally, Rugby Union’s Six Nations championship saw one of its most exciting competitions as Ireland eventually claimed the title in the final week of play.

All in all, a year to remember. 2016 is shaping up to be just as promising, with an Olympics and Paralympics taking us to South America. Superbowl 50 kicks off on 7 February. It’s going to be a showy year.