The Greatest Year
Take a look back at an incredible 12 months that will long be remembered as British sport's golden age
Last Updated: 29/12/12 9:25am
The images from a memorable 2012 will linger long in the collective consciousness: Bradley Wiggins in yellow on the Champs Elysee, Andy Murray triumphant at Flushing Meadows, Super Saturday and that amazing, emotional night in the Olympic Stadium, the Velodrome a riot of colour, noise and delight... the list has to end somewhere but it is not easy.
For so many sportsmen and women 2012 truly was as good as it gets.
Murray won silver and gold at the Olympics following his loss to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final and then went on to rewrite 76 years of tennis history by becoming the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win a Grand Slam singles title, beating Novak Djokovic in five dramatic sets at the US Open.
In any other year Murray would be the undisputed king of British sport. In 2012 he was just another smiling face in the crowd.
Wiggins' achievements were truly stunning; an Olympic gold, victories in some of cycling's most prestigious early-season events and that glorious and historic triumph in Paris in July.
In rugby union, Wales, with an exciting blend of youth and experience, won the Six Nations Grand Slam for the third time in eight years.
In rugby league Wigan finished top of Super League, Warrington won the Challenge Cup final and Leeds took the Grand Final prize with a blistering display to eclipse Warrington.
Football saw the arrival of Manchester City as a major force, wrenching the Premier League title from neighbours Manchester United with a last-ditch winner from Sergio Aguero against QPR in as dramatic a finale as you are likely to witness.
As if to prove money makes football's world spin like never before Chelsea won the FA Cup and then lifted the Champions League trophy for the first time, winning a penalty shoot-out 4-3 against Bayern Munich, with departing star Didier Drogba converting the decisive spot kick.
England once more failed to achieve at a major tournament, going out on penalties, how else?, against Italy at Euro 2012 under new manager Roy Hodgson. In truth, however, football was simply overwhelmed by sports and characters who so often in the past have been bit-part players in the shadow of the national sport's all-consuming drama.
In golf, Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy polished his aura as the 'new Tiger' by winning his second major, the USPGA, at the age of 23, by a record eight shots. If that was stunning then the events at Medinah Country Club, Illinois, in September were extraordinary.
Trailing by 10-6 going into the final day, Europe appeared to be playing for pride alone. McIlroy and the rest had other ideas and inspired by a day dedicated to the memory of the late Seve Ballesteros they produced a recovery in the swashbuckling tradition of their former captain.
Eight singles matches won, one halved, to deliver a 14.5-13.5 victory which deserves its place in the pantheon of great sporting comebacks.
Yet, despite such thrilling highs, for many years to come 2012 will be remembered for what took place during six weeks in which the London Olympics and Paralympics captured the hearts and minds of a nation.
Who can forget the Saturday night it rained British gold in the Olympic stadium for heptathlete Jessica Ennis, long jumper Greg Rutherford and the incomparable Mo Farah in the 10,000m, all swept on by a roaring crowd whose passion brought a lump to the throat?
Who can forget Farah making it a golden double in the 5,000m and celebrating zanily trackside with Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter who successfully defended his 100m, 200m and relay sprint titles?
The velodrome, meanwhile, rocked as Britain's Jason Kenny and Laura Trott won double gold and Victoria Pendleton won gold and silver before bidding a tearful farewell to the sport that has made her a star.
Sir Chris Hoy was there, too, embracing Sir Steven Redgrave after surpassing him as Britain's greatest Olympian, his victories in the team sprint and the keirin taking his golden tally to six over four Games.
Truly that was the night of knights and while cycling was to be rocked when America's Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles later in the year after compelling evidence emerged of systematic drug cheating, there was a growing conviction that the sport currently has never been cleaner.
At the Paralympics the four gold medals of wheelchair athlete David Weir and the irrepressible charm of blade runner Jonnie Peacock as he won the 100m epitomised a Games with the emphasis on ability, not disability.
So what will we remember most from 2012, apart from 29 Olympic and 34 Paralympic gold medals?
It has to be the pride and the glory, the sacrifice and the humility, the gold but also the smiles, which summed up those six amazing and unforgettable weeks of summer.
Click on the links below to relive the year in all its glorious detail...
The 2012 Olympics
Football in 2012
Formula One in 2012
Rugby Union in 2012
Cricket in 2012
Cycling in 2012
Golf in 2012
Tennis in 2012
Boxing in 2012
Rugby League in 2012
Racing in 2012
Motorsport in 2012
Snooker in 2012
Speedway in 2012
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