Summer Sport 2013: A magnificent show of its own

DSC_0072AFTER the incredible summer of 2012, and the continued success throughout the year, one couldn’t help but feel that this was the height of British sport and that show of sporting greatest would never be achieved ever again, at least not in our life times . . . Then along came the summer of 2013.

All wrongful thoughts of British mediocrity at first were all but extinguished on a hot evening down under. The British Lions, without a tour win in 16 years, recorded a historical victory over Australia and kick started what would be an extraordinary summer for Great Britain. Andy Murray certainly didn’t fall victim to those wrongful thoughts as he eclipsed last year’s achievements by finally ending Britain’s long 77 year wait for a British men’s singles winner at Wimbledon, and those joyous moments continued throughout the summer. The Ashes were successfully retained, a 3-0 score line over Australia was indeed flattening, but it was England’s biggest Ashes victory over the old enemy in recent history. A British champion was crowned in Pennsylvania, United States at the Merion Golf Club after Justin Rose won the US Open and there was another British winner of the Tour de France, minus the sideburns. Chris Froome sailed to victory to make it two British champions in a row in the grandest cycling race of them all. Champions too were crowned in Moscow at the World Athletic Championships as Team GB came together again and managed a good medal haul with three gold and three bronze medals. Then to cap off a brilliant summer of sport, the Premier League returned to our screens and the transfer window deals, which never ceases to amaze us, smashed all records, collectively and individually. Those who were spoiled by London 2012 last summer were greedy for more, and the sport of this year’s summer certainly did not disappoint.

The British and Irish Lions exceeded all expectation by recording only their second ever series victory of the professional era with a stunning 2-1 win over Australia. The whole tour covered seven cities, hosting 10 matches, of which the Lions only lost two, ending with the three match test series. After a number of warm-up games, the first test got under way in Brisbane and was a tightly contested match. The Lions, as has been the problem down the years, lacked cohesion and if not for the luck of Australia missing a last minute penalty kick, which would have snatched victory for the hosts, the Lions took the lead. The second test again was close but this time the spoils went to Australia. Melbourne was the setting for this contest and the luck was with the hosts as Leigh Halfpenny’s last kick of the game penalty fell agonisingly short and so it went to a decider, this time in Sydney. In the third test, the Lions stormed to victory with a pulsating performance and arguably one of the best ever seen from a Lions team. A second half demolition job saw the Lions win 41-16 taking the test series 2-1 and thus bringing to an end the long 16 year wait.

Another long wait came to an end at the All England Lawn Tennis Club as Andy Murray gave Wimbledon its first British men’s singles champion since Fred Perry way back in 1936. The number two seed had to overcome the number one seed Novak Djokovic, as he had done in the US Open final in 2012 but failed to do so in the Australian Open final this year. There was no clear favourite going into the final but a dominating performance from Andy Murray gave him a straight sets victory going on to win 6-4 7-5 6-4. The atmosphere in centre court was reminiscent of the Olympic final last summer as thousands of spectators bared the searing heat to watch Dunblane’s finest take the crown. His reaction after the match was one of shock, but after letting the news settle in, Andy Murray is hoping he can “do it all again next year.”

Retaining your crown is something Murray is hopeful of but something that the England cricket team have now done for the past three Ashes series. This summer was much the same as they ran out 3-0 series winners, but not in the style and swagger that many had predicted. Australia put up a good fight and if not for the bad weather at Old Trafford and the Oval they could have restored some pride. That wasn’t to be the case as Ian Bell, named man of the series, shone throughout with three centuries and a new star was born in opening batsman Joe Root. The 22 year old Yorkshire batsmen hit a massive 180 at Lord’s, the home of cricket, and looks to have a long illustrious international career ahead of him.

Another new star shone this time in the cycling as a British man stormed to victory in the Tour de France. Chris Froome, a man unfortunately in the shadow of Sir Bradley Wiggins last summer, controlled the race throughout taking 3 stage victories and winning by 4’ 20”. The champions didn’t end there for Britain as an English Rose took victory in the United States and Mo Farah reigned supreme in Moscow. Justin Rose won his first major title at the US Open in Pennsylvania two strokes ahead of US favourite Phil Mickelson. Farah won two gold medals, repeating the heroics of last summer by becoming World Champion in the 10,000m and 5,000m and quite possibly cementing his place as Britain greatest ever athlete.

Another man hoping to be the greatest in his sport is Wales’ own Gareth Bale. The boy wonder from Cardiff became the most expensive player of all time as Real Madrid pried him away from Tottenham Hotspur for the modest price of £85.3m (100m Euros). This beat the previous record, of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo, by £5.3m but Madrid are hoping the two huge investments will bring them that long awaited 10th Champions League title. Never to be surpassed the Premier League also smashed records, the combined transfer total from the summer of all Premier League clubs reached a world record £630m. Transfer deadline day spending alone was the highest ever seen with clubs spending £140m and it certainly sets up an exciting season ahead.