This summer has not been an enormous let down as some of us expected, being the summer after the Olympics. Although not reaching the heady heights of 2012, 2013 has still been a year to remember for British sport. There have been a few stand-out people which have caught my eye. Honourable mentions go to Gareth Bale for becoming the most expensive footballer ever bought (and, in the process, ruining his career), to Laura Robson for continuing her brilliant rise up the tennis rankings, and to Adam Gemili for breaking the 20 second barrier in the 200m (and showing great maturity in his post-race interview), but here are the people who have defined this summer’s British sport.
5. Stuart Broad
Love him or hate him, Stuart Broad demonstrated this summer just what a fantastic sportsman he is. Adding runs with the bat stylishly (I believe Geoffrey Boycott compares him to the legendary Sir Garfield Sobers regularly) and when needed, his performance with the ball in the later Tests of this summer’s Ashes showed just how destructive he can be. I know I’ve said this before, but he has the potential to completely changes matches, and has demonstrated that twice this season, once against New Zealand and once against the Australians. Some criticised him for not walking at Trent Bridge; they’re incorrect in their criticism. Not that I’m opinionated at all…
4. Christine Ohuruogu
Athletics isn’t watched or participated in anywhere near as it should be. Maybe people have an aversion to watch athletes run round a track for (sometimes) upward of ten minutes. That said, Christine Ohuruogu’s performance at the World Championships in Moscow was stunning. As the captain of, to be frank, a rather weak British team, she delivered exactly what was needed; a composed, exceptionally run gold medal, beating her Botswanian rival, Amantle Montsho, simply by wanting it more. She was also thoughtful and clear when interviewed, and held the team together from the beginning with a well-executed speech before the championships began. She is now, incidentally, the most successful British female athlete. And what an athlete she is.
3. Ian Bell
The sheer weight of the statistic of Ian Bell’s average, 56.2, during the Ashes series easily puts him as England’s best player. Anderson was fantastic but lost his vip towards the end of the series, Swann was good but not at his best, and none of the other batsmen got anywhere near Bell’s form or reliability. This, when combined with the fact that he has never really performed at his best against Australia (I still shudder when I think of Warne and McGrath utterly flummoxing him in 2005), and the persistent criticism of his inability to make significant runs under pressure, makes his match-saving hundred at Trent Bridge and innings-saving ton at Lord’s easily worthy of enormous merit. I hope this form continues Down Under later this year.
2. Mo Farah
As one of the faces of London 2012, Mo Farah was already flying pretty high. Then, at the Moscow World Championships, he entered the pantheon of greats of distance running. He did what only one man had ever done before; hold the Olympic and World titles at both 5,000 and 10,000 metres. He was already a British all-time great. Now his place on the world stage is secured. He works hard, having relocated to the United States a few years ago to train with a man named Salazar (what a fantastic name?!?), and is so easy to like when you see him on camera and in interviews, he is a wonderful advert for his sport. Alright, the Mobot is a little cringy. But we can forgive that, can’t we?
1. Andy Murray
And finally. Call me common and I wouldn’t care. Andy Murray has had the year of his life, but this summer he decided to go and win Wimbledon. And not just eek it out. Oh no, he beat Djokovic in straight sets. He has come on so far since the young teenager that lost to David Nalbandian after being two sets up. Some people I know don’t like him, thinking him grumpy and lacking in personality. I point you to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, two men who could be perceived as ‘lacking personality’. Please note the conditional tense, I don’t actually think that. In addition, a great sportsperson does not need a riveting personality. Watch the documentary the BBC broadcast this year; it’s a real eye-opener. I hope he finds even more happiness than he already has – he is a great British sportsman. Simple as.
So, who disagrees? Have I missed anyone out? Leave your comments below…