17 December 2020

The best and worst sporting moments of 2020

It has been another astonishing year of sporting drama, from title triumphs for Liverpool, Lewis Hamilton and Naomi Osaka to disqualifications, suspensions and costly cancellations.

Here, the PA news agency looks back on five of the best and worst sporting moments of 2020.

Best moments

Liverpool end 30-year title drought

Liverpool (PA Wire)

As the coronavirus pandemic disrupted life in England and forced the Premier League to be suspended for three months, Liverpool supporters endured a nervous wait to see how, or even if, the season would end. When games finally resumed in June, a draw at Everton and a home win over Crystal Palace left Jurgen Klopp’s side on the verge of the title and they were confirmed as champions for the first time since 1990 when nearest rivals Manchester City lost at Chelsea. The Reds’ title success was the 19th in the club’s history, moving them one behind Manchester United’s English record and sparked euphoric celebrations outside Anfield.

Magnificent seven for Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton (PA Wire)

Hamilton wrapped up an historic seventh world title with three races to spare following a typically brilliant drive in the rain-hit Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul. The 35-year-old drew level with Michael Schumacher’s all-time championship haul, 16 years after the great German set a record many thought would stand the test of time, and also has more wins, more poles and more podiums than any driver who has gone before him.

Naomi Osaka combines activism with success

Osaka won her third grand-slam title in the US Open with a brilliant comeback victory over Victoria Azarenka, but her success will be remembered as much for her impact off the court as on it. The 23-year-old, who is of mixed Japanese and Haitian heritage, used her platform to draw attention to racial injustice, wearing a different facemask for each match bearing the name of a black victim of violence.

Tyson unleashes the Fury on Deontay Wilder

Tyson Fury hammered Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas (PA Archive)

Tyson Fury had a score to settle after his controversial draw with Deontay Wilder in December 2018. Still annoyed that he did not claim a points victory in Los Angeles, despite hitting the canvas twice, Fury delivered a stunning performance to end Wilder’s five-year reign as WBC heavyweight world champion in Las Vegas. Described by Wilder as ‘pillow fists’ before the fight, Fury made the American eat his own words by knocking him down twice before a seventh-round stoppage to complete a remarkable journey back to the top of boxing.

Scotland qualify for Euro 2020

David Marshall (PA Wire)

David Marshall was the hero as Scotland reached Euro 2020 with a penalty shoot-out win over Serbia in Belgrade. Ryan Christie’s strike appeared to have sent Steve Clarke’s dominant side to the finals – to be held in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic – but Serbia scored with their first effort on target in the 90th minute. However, the blow proved to be fleeting as Marshall saved from Aleksandar Mitrovic in the 10th penalty of the shoot-out to see Scotland reach their first major tournament since 1998.

Worst moments

The “Covidiots”

As if losing months of sport to a global pandemic was not bad enough, when action was able to resume there were numerous examples of players breaking the rules for selfish reasons, some of which had major consequences. The likes of Jack Wilshere, Phil Foden, Mason Greenwood, Tammy Abraham, Ben Chilwell and Jadon Sancho mainly damaged their own reputations, but England’s rugby union game against the Barbarians was cancelled – at a cost of around £1million – due to coronavirus protocol breaches by Barbarians players, including former England captain Chris Robshaw.

Kobe Bryant’s death

Kobe Bryant (PA Archive)

The year was not even a month old when basketball great Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash at the age of 41. The five-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist died alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in the incident in California. Gianna was an enthusiastic basketball player who often accompanied her father to matches and was already being tipped as a future star of the women’s game. In total nine people, including the pilot, died in the crash.

Novak Djokovic disqualified from the US Open

Djokovic had already come in for heavy criticism after the exhibition Adria Tour he organised in the Balkans resulted in several players and coaches, including himself, testing positive for Covid-19, but worse was to come at Flushing Meadows when the top seed was disqualified after accidentally hitting a female line judge with a ball struck in annoyance during his fourth-round match against Pablo Carreno Busta.

Tiger Woods’ 10 at Augusta

GOLF Masters Woods (PA Graphics)

Defending champion Tiger Woods made history during the final round of the 84th Masters, but for all the wrong reasons. Woods was out of contention for the title as he played the par-three 12th, a pivotal hole during his memorable victory in 2019. On that occasion it was rivals Francesco Molinari, Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter and Tony Finau who all found the water in front of the green, but this time Woods did so an amazing three times on his way to a 10 – the highest single-hole score of his entire career.

Christian Coleman banned

Christian Coleman (PA Archive)

In October, world 100 metres champion Christian Coleman was banned from competition until May 2022 for breaches of anti-doping ‘whereabouts’ rules. The 24-year-old American, who won individual and relay gold at Doha 2019, was not accused of taking a banned substance but was found guilty of two missed tests and one ‘filing failure’ in 2019. A missed test in December 2019 occurred when Coleman went out shopping during his designated one-hour time slot. Coleman has filed an appeal against his ban.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox