Issue 238 | December 16 2011
Sport’s Athletes of the Year 2011 MaRk cavENDiSH aNDREW STRaUSS HaYLEY TURNER RoRY MciLRoY LioNEL MESSi SEbaSTiaN vETTEL GRaHaM HENRY
NEW MAN IN CHARGE
BOSS BOTTLED. NIGHT. THE NEW FRAGRANCE FOR MEN FEATURING RYAN REYNOLDS
BOSS. BOTTLED. FRAGRANCE FOR MEN FEATURING RYAN REYNOLDS
the hunt for fast Welcome to the team Christopher Gomes. Youâ€™re one of the fastest players in the country this week with 34.99 km/h. Think youâ€™re as fast as Christopher? Prove it with the new adiZero f50 powered by miCoach at adidas.com/football.
The fastest boot just got a brain.
Fast but not fast enough Sam Hurrell
issue 238, december 16 2011 radar 08 Villains of the year The morons, the mercenaries, the downright rotters
10 Chasing Sachin One man’s quest to finally bowl at the great Tendulkar
12 The Cobra speaks
Cover image: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for ATP World Tour
Carl Froch on preparing for the biggest fight of his life
Sport will be back on the streets on Friday January 13 - but we will be available on the iPad through the whole christmas break.
14 Editor’s letter It’s time – finally – for football referees to get a little help to do this coming week Features
22 Novak Djokovic
It’s been a great year for sport, but one man has been way ahead of everyone else in the world...
24 Mark Cavendish ... and if you’re looking for the top Brit? Well, here he is...
27 Andrew Strauss ... though if it’s leaders you’re after, we’d suggest this man...
36 Sebastian Vettel ... in any other year, this chap’s dominance would be unrivalled
40 Pictures of the year
Some of our favourite sporting images from 2011
extra Time 56 Sophie Horn The golfer-turned-Santa wishing you season’s greetings
58 Gadgets Your last-minute present ideas sorted (well, sort of)
Our favourite new products of the year – all in one bathroom!
The Killing II and Joy Division: merry Christmas, everybody... | December 16 2011 | 07
p10 – Alien vs. Designer
p10 – How not to track down Sachin Tendulkar p12 – Up close with The Cobra
They’re not the messiahs...
1. Moron of the year
...they're very naughty boys. To balance out our sporting heroes of 2011, Radar picks a not-somagniﬁcent seven from the past 12 months 3. flop of the year
Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty Images. Michael Regan/Getty Images. Scott Heavey/Getty Images. Staff/AFP/Getty Images. Oli Scarff/Getty Images. David Rogers/Getty Images
1. Sepp Blatter 2. Mercenary Manoeuvred his way to unopposed FIFA of the year re-election, told racially abused players they should settle things with a handshake, and suggested that gay fans at the Qatar World Cup should “refrain from sexual activities”. And that’s just this year! Dishonourable mentions Steve Williams Tiger’s ex-caddie managed to make his former boss look like the good guy. France 2 camera crew Specifically, the drivers of the car that ran two Tour de France riders off the road. Top work, fellas. 2. Carlos Tevez Currently collecting £140,000 a week for doing nothing. Linked with a loan move to Milan, although it’s hard to see why he’d give up such a dream job. Good riddance. Dishonourable mentions Asamoah Gyan Sold Sunderland down the river, but can rest safe in the knowledge that he’s fulfilling his potential at the ninth best club in the UAE. Nick Easter After losing a Rugby World Cup quarter final to France, Easter allegedly (that is, alleged by him) bemoaned England’s lost financial opportunities. Priorities, Nicholas, priorities. 3. Fernando Torres Five goals in 35 games doth not a £50m striker make. It feels a tad harsh to kick a man when he’s down, but Torres’ occasional flashes of form are nowhere near enough to save a reputation that’s sinking fast. Dishonourable mentions Usain Bolt A false-start disqualification at the World Athletics Championships is inexcusable for a man of his calibre. India’s touring Test team Didn’t put up much of a fight during their visit to these shores – left without winning (or drawing) a single Test.
08 | December 16 2011 | Sport
5. Worst official of the year
4. villains of the year 4. Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif They betrayed their country, their sport and their fans when they took part in spot-fixing during a Test against England – and in 2011 they faced their judgement in court. Dishonourable mentions Steve Mullings The Jamaican was banned for life after his second failed drugs test. Isaac Luke New Zealand hooker tried to break his cousin Rangi Chase’s leg during the Four Nations. Christmas Day might be a bit awkward this year.
5. Alain Rolland This one will be debated until the cows come home (whatever that means), but Rolland’s harsh red card for Sam Warburton ended Wales’ Rugby World Cup hopes. That it was to the letter of the law is one thing, but two words spring to mind: ‘sense’ and ‘common’. Dishonourable mentions RFU We can’t even pin this on one name because no one quite knows who’s in charge here. Shambolic. Stuart Attwell The ref’s name is preceded by the words ‘poor decision from...’ too often.
Monkey business P
aul Smith has worked with everyone from Apple to Manchester United, Mick Jagger to David Bowie, so it was only a matter of time before he ran out of earthly collaborators exciting enough for him and started working with... aliens! That’s to say, the British design guru has teamed up with too-cool-for-this-planet skateboarding company Alien Workshop to create this deck, which had the Sport design team panting like hungry hounds in front of a sirloin. “Can we get one sent in?” came the cry. “No,” came the reply. Because this fine board – crafted from seven veneers of hard rock maple – is limited to a total of just 200. In response, team design pulled a gesture similar to the one that the cheeky primate is performing on the base of this deck. Never mind; with their hefty, above-writer wages, we’re sure they’ll be able to spring for one – as will you, if you’re quick about it. Paul Smith Alien Workshop Skateboard, £89 via paulsmith.co.uk
Why Sachin Tendulkar? “He made his Test debut at 16 and was touted in the way Joe Cole was: barely out of nappies and hailed as the saviour of the sport – and he’s never let anyone down. He’s always been amazing as he is now. He’s had 20-odd years at the top and there have never been any properly lean periods or any off-field controversies. Plus he’s a proper, old-school superstar – he’s got that mystique.” The hard sell “The way I tried to sell it was this: the make-up of England’s team is Paul Collingwood is out, so Jonathan Trott might be doing a bit of bowling. Now, he’s rubbish at bowling, and I’m rubbish as well, so it will be good for Sachin to face someone who’s obviously not a bowler. He’s in the nets facing Zaheer Khan every day – has anyone made sure that he’s okay against dibbly-dobbly rubbish? But I did make it clear to the Indian Cricket Board that I’m not mad and I did know my cricket.”
10 | December 16 2011 |
Oddest situation? “There were bloody loads. At The Oval, I had to get into the pavilion to speak to someone who I was told was one of Sachin’s advisers. Problem was, I was there with a stag do, so I had a rubber chicken head and chicken feet on. I also tried to do a pitch invasion at Hove; I ended up sleeping in my car in Greenwich and I met a mad Italian spiritualist who tried to make me do some ‘cosmic ordering’ with him – naked. Things just kept going tits up.”
Using the force “I tried to get into the Indian dressing room using the ‘these are not the droids you’re looking for’ blag from Star Wars. I thought: ‘I’ve worked as a journalist and blagged my way into all sorts of places. This is cricket; it’s genteel – if I say things with enough purpose, I’ll get in.’ But the man there wasn’t having any of it. At least I didn’t try the old, Darth Vader-style Force-choking. That would have got me some press coverage – using an archaic form of space murder.” Chasing Sachin, one man’s account of his attempts to bowl to Sachin Tendulkar, is out now, £9.99
Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images
From Jedi mind tricks to chicken suits, amateur cricketer Adam Carroll-Smith tells us about a summer trying to bowl a ball to his cricket hero
hat’s the hardest part of training for a world title fight? “Sparring, because it’s almost like a fight. You wake up the next day and your arms are hurting, your back is aching, your neck is sore. All your muscles are fatigued, so it is hard, but I actually quite enjoy training.” Your opponent Andre Ward got cut in training. Have you changed strategy to target that? “No, I’m going to be trying to punch him in the face – and if I hit him in the eye, so be it. I’m going to look to hit him in the head; that’s either eye, the nose, the mouth – I can’t say I’ll be aiming for his right eyebrow. It’ll be hard enough just to hit him, the way he moves.” You’ve dismissed his KO power. Is that mind games to get him to go toe to toe with you? “Well, that would be giving the game away, wouldn’t it? But if you look at the statistics, they don’t lie. He’s only got a 50 per cent knockout ratio. That just means, if I have to,
I can come forward and take a couple of risks, because I don’t think he can knock me out.” How important is pre-fight psychology? “At this level, it’s hard to get inside a top fighter’s head. I mean, I’ve been in Ward’s head in that he will know that any second of any round, if I catch him sweet, I’m going to seriously hurt him. But I’m thinking about him as well – just not when my head hits the pillow.” Do you change as a person on fight week? “Of course you change, you’re a little more steely and I pick and choose who I speak to – but I don’t become a monster. I’m still quite an easygoing, laid-back person. I’ve probably just got a bit of a shorter fuse in fight week.” What are you like in the dressing room on fight night? “Very relaxed – I’m not really worried or tense. I know some people headbutt lockers or start screaming and shouting, but I’m not like that.
Nuts to you I
n the same way Alan Brazil could spot space in a crowded penalty area, the former striker and talkSPORT legend has spied a gap in the snack market – and he’s decided to squeeze his nuts in there. Brazil’s Nuts are a new range of salted or dry roasted peanuts unleashed in bars, pubs and clubs from this week. The great news is that part of Alan’s plan is to raise money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation for the early detection and treatment of cancer – and who could say nuts to that? alanbrazilsport.com
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Eye of the Cobra
We ask Carl Froch how a world champion prepares for the biggest fight of his life
We ask Carl ‘The Cobra’ Froch how a world champion prepares for the biggest fight of his life...
20 Knockouts for Carl Froch in 29 pro fights
I’m calm and confident. The hard work is already done before you get in the ring.” What about when you’re actually in the ring – do you try to get a read on your opponent? “You have a look at them, but it doesn’t mean fuck all to be honest. If your opponent looks nervous, you might think: ‘Oh he’s nervous – good.’ But those nerves might mean he’s going to be sharper, faster... and hit harder.” Can it work the other way? “Yeah, I’ve been in the ring with people who look like they really mean business – then the bell goes and they’re running, holding and don’t want to be in there. It was a front. But at this top level, we’re all psychologically switched on. We’re all elite, confident fighters who can punch hard. It’s just some punch harder than others – like I punch harder than Andre Ward.” Carl Froch v Andre Ward is live on Sky Sports HD1 from midnight on Saturday – our preview on p52
Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Eye of the Cobra
Radar Editor’s letter ‘Adebayor was this far offside. Deﬁnitely...’ www.sport-magazine.co.uk @sportmaguk facebook.com/sportmaguk
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Give refs a chance As more games are changed by bad decisions, it’s time to lend a helping hand to officials
Editor-in-chief Simon Caney @simoncaney
probably haven’t changed, but is it possible to imagine Glenn Hoddle or Matt Le Tissier thriving in the modern Premier League? Not only that, more players are now setting out to deliberately deceive the officials. The game is played at a blur now and, despite referees’ fitness levels improving, they simply can’t keep up – let alone make split-second decisions. Almost every game this season seems to have had a turning point based on a bad call by the officials. Whether technology is the answer, or simply more recourse to a fourth man in the stand, I’m not sure. It would make the game more stop-start, which is hardly ideal. But when a ref such as Chris Foy – who I had always thought to be pretty good – has a day like he did at the Britannia last Sunday, it’s clear that our officials need some assistance.
A quick word on the retirement from international rugby of Jonny Wilkinson. Few players in any sport genuinely deserve the adjective ‘great’, but Wilkinson certainly does. He will forever be remembered for that drop goal in 2003, but such was his drive to improve that he seemed unfulfilled after that. Maybe attaining such an incredibly high standard at such a young age was his undoing. He simply couldn’t get much better, but it’s to his eternal credit that he never stopped trying. A reminder that Sport won’t be around on the streets for a few weeks, what with Christmas getting in the way. The next mag will be available on Friday January 13 – but don’t despair, at least not if you own an iPad. We’ll continue to publish a digital version of the mag every Friday. Download it for free right now, before you forget...
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Hearty thanks this week to: Nicola Arzani, Alison Hackney, Grant Rowley, Gem Oakes and Cat Pia for the doughnuts... Total Average Net Distribution: 306,217 Jan-Jun 2011
Reader comments of the week You’re completely wrong about Tiger – he may still have some work to do but nobody in the modern game knows how to win like he does. Guaranteed to win a major in 2012. Alan, via email
14 | December 16 2011 |
@simoncaney totally agree with you about Tiger. People are getting carried away. He’s not ‘back’ and will never be the same player he was
Socrates was one of my favourite ever footballers. He was actually underrated in that team. Wonderful footballer.
Roger, via email
The article by @davidflatman is in today’s @Sportmaguk. I went to school with @davidflatman. Avoided him during rugby lessons! #sensible.
@simoncaney All female list in the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year category. It’s a disgrace!
LAUNCH OF THE YEAR
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n the past, I’ve argued against the introduction of technology to football. I had always thought it unnecessary and somehow soulless – one of life’s great perverse pleasures is complaining/arguing about dodgy decisions with a group of mates. But the time has come for me to change my mind. More than ever before, football is being ruined by a litany of bad decisions from match officials. I don’t think the referees and linesmen have suddenly got worse, and I certainly don’t think any of them have an allegiance to a particular club. I just think the game in the past five years has changed dramatically – more so than in the previous 100 – and it’s no longer possible to officiate as it’s always been done. Players are now more athletic than they’ve ever been. That means they’re not just faster, but stronger too. Skill levels
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Radar Frozen in time
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The ‘B’ of ‘Bang!’ In what looks like the tightest finish ever seen in a women’s 10,000m, that woman at the far end seems to have shaded this one on the line. Incredible scenes. Truly, what are the chances of seeing a finish like th... oh... hang about... this image of Melbourne’s 2011 Zatopek Classic looks like it might have been captioned all wrong. This looks more like the start than the end. Ah yes – we’ve just checked, and it is, and they’ve only just begun! Even so, our money’s still on that woman at the far end.
16 | December 16 2011 |
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SPORT’S 2011 ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
And now the end is near, and so we face the final curtain. But before it finally falls on another year, allow us to celebrate the men and – get this, Auntie – woman who have made their mark most memorably on their sporting profession of choice in 2011. So here we go, in no particular order... | December 16 2011 | 21
Sport’s Athletes of the Year Novak Djokovic
SEASONED TO PERFECTION He hardly came from nowhere, but Novak Djokovic’s almost complete dominance of tennis in 2011 took everybody by surprise – except, perhaps, the man himself
Novak, congratulations on an unbelievable year. How did it all fall into place? “I think it was simply that after the US Open in 2010, I started to believe more that I could win big matches against the top guys – so I had all the necessary confidence in order to approach the 2011 season in the right frame of mind. The Davis Cup win for Serbia last December was another tremendous experience that gave me a lot of positive energy and left me very eager to get back to the tournaments after that, even though the off-season was very short.” So it comes down to confidence? “In the end, tennis is a very mental sport. Having played at the top level for the past few years, I was aware of the importance
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of having a very strong mental approach. Obviously you need to have a very high level of confidence and you need to believe that you can win matches when you’re playing against the top guys – especially when you’re playing the Grand Slams. That’s something that changed in my life, my game and in my head in the past 12 months.” Is there a real difference in how you feel going on court now compared with before? “It was after last year’s US Open that I started to believe I could win the big matches – like against Roger Federer in the semi finals, when I didn’t give up and saved a couple of matchpoints. I also played a really good final against Rafa [Nadal]. I won my first slam in 2008 and had a great first six months that year, but then I had a lot of ups and downs – I struggled, especially mentally. I was always coming to the later stages of a slam, like the semi finals, but I
wasn’t making that extra step because I didn’t have that positive mindset on the court when I played the big guys. Now that’s changed.” Many have called your season the finest in tennis history. Are you comfortable with that? Was there any temptation to end it after the US Open, when you were suffering with injury? “My season, even if I didn’t play anything after the US Open, would still be incredible. That it has been compared to some of the other great tennis seasons in history is something I am very proud of. Maybe it was the wrong decision to play the Davis Cup semi final in Belgrade after the US Open, because after that I was not fresh on the court... not feeling well and also partly injured. But it would have been impossible to stop because there were still important tournaments in Asia and in Europe, and the ATP Finals in London. Obviously I wanted to get ready for those, recover and play my best tennis – but I wasn’t able to.”
Until this year, Nadal and Federer were the dominant forces in men’s tennis – were there occasions when you wondered if your time would ever come? “Nadal and Federer have been the two most dominant players in the world over the past few years – they’ve won most of the majors. So sometimes it did feel a bit frustrating when you got to the latter stages of a Grand Slam and you have to meet them. They always come up with their best tennis when it matters most. But it was a process of learning and developing as a player and as a person. I had to find the way to mentally overcome the pressures and expectations, because I always believed I had the quality to beat those guys and to win slams – that was the only way that could take me to the position I am in now. Of course I have full respect for Roger and Rafa, and what they have done. Anytime I play them, it’s a great match. But the mental approach has to be positive. There’s no other way.”
There were signs last season that the 2008 Australian Open champion was ready to add to the one lonely Grand Slam trophy in his cabinet. At the 2010 US Open, for example, where Djokovic scored his first slam victory over Federer since 2008; and in the Davis Cup final, where his performances led Serbia to their first ever crown in the competition. But still no one could have predicted the run the Serbian would go on in 2011 – one that would bring him three Grand Slams, five Masters Series 1000 titles and take him to world number one. His defeat to Federer at the 2010 ATP Finals in London would be his last until the French Open, where he would lose to the Swiss again, in the semi finals. By then, though, Djokovic had racked up 43 matches unbeaten, including a ridiculous four wins in a row in finals against Nadal – two of those on the Spaniard’s strongest clay surface. His first Wimbledon and US Open titles followed - the latter requiring him to beat Nadal in the final, having come back from two sets and two matchpoints down against Federer in the semis. Djokovic finally hung up his racket for 2011 with a 70-6 record, injury and fatigue getting the better of him for the last few events of the season. In an era dominated by two of the greatest players the game has ever known, Djokovic this year burst through what many considered to be an impenetrable ceiling, ensuring his name can and will not be ignored when the tennis history books are written.
Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images
Sport’s Athletes of the Year Mark Cavendish
Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images
SPRINT KING “Has what I’ve achieved in 2011 sunk in? A little bit, but not completely. I took a short break when we finished the season and went on holiday so I had time to reflect a bit, but as soon as you get back it’s time to start preparing for next year already. And I don’t really like to reflect on what I have done too much, because if you start looking back then you get complacent about what you’ve got to achieve next time. “But it wasn’t just about me. It was a special effort by a group of eight guys that helped us win the World Championships in Copenhagen. It’s not often that you put a plan together and it’s 100 per cent executed how you said it would be, and that one was – we took control and rode on the front for 260km. When you say three years before that you’re going to do something and you then stick by it – well, that’s a pretty rare thing. “We had to win the worlds to qualify a maximum of five positions in the Olympic road race next year, so the plan was that 2012 would always be coming off the back of a successful World Champs – and obviously that part went to plan. Like the course in Copenhagen, London was never going to be too hilly, so it was obvious that if we could
provide a team to win the worlds then the Olympics would be a knock-on of that. We’ve got a strong team for next year, and I think we can be the favourites going into it. “In terms of my pro team, I think I’ll slot in well at Team Sky, where my contract starts in January. We’ve already had our first team meeting, which I was pretty nervous about, but it was okay; after an hour or so I was comfortable. It really is a great group of guys, and I’m excited about next year. I don’t know why I was nervous to start with – I suppose everyone is in new environments. But you know, if that feeling don’t last long then it’s a good thing. “Obviously it’s a great honour to be named one of Sport’s Athletes of the Year, and it caps a brilliant 12 months for me. I really enjoyed the recent cover shoot, and for me to be up there with some of the other names mentioned in the magazine is very flattering, so thanks very much.” Mark Cavendish is represented by Wasserman Media Group. Follow him @MarkCavendish
Imagine a striker who scores (almost) every time he ventures into the box. Mark Cavendish has, in a nutshell, been cycling’s equivalent in 2011. Whether riding for his pro team (the now defunct HTC-Highroad) in the Tour de France or for his country in the World Championships, he’s been the man relied upon to get over the finish line first. He won five stages of this year’s Tour, taking his career tally to 20 and becoming the first person ever to win the prestigious final stage on the Champs-Elysées three years in a row. But it was the Green Jersey – the prize traditionally won by the Tour’s best sprinter – that Cavendish desired above all. Finally, this year, it was his. Two months later the Road World Championships in Copenhagen came down to a sprint finish, with the smart money on one man. Needless to say, Cavendish finished with aplomb – and even went on to pick up an MBE in November.
24 | December 16 2011 |
Merry Christmas and a Happy New You.
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Sport’s Athletes of the Year Andrew Strauss
THE CAPTAIN’S LOG When the Ashes series in Australia started just over a year ago, could you have envisaged that you’d go on to achieve so much in 2011? “We were all a bit surprised by how quickly we reached number one in the world, that’s for sure. We set off for Australia very hopeful and expecting to do reasonably well out there, but the fact that we won so comfortably gave us a huge amount of confidence heading into last summer – and we saw that in our performances against India. It’s been a great run for us and there’s a lot of pride in what we’ve achieved.” What’s your own personal highlight of the past 12 months? “Well, where do you start? I suppose for me it was lifting the Ashes in Sydney. Just because winning a series in Australia had
become kind of a Holy Grail for English cricket. So not just to win it, but to win three games by an innings, to do it in that fashion and to have so many fantastic performances by members of the side – it was very special.” What’s the real key strength of this England team? “If I had to say one thing, it would be how much we all play for each other. It’s the sort of phrase that sounds a bit wishy-washy, but it’s crucial. If you want to win games consistently, everyone has to buy into the team idea. There’s a strong feeling of togetherness, we’ve got some good characters in the side and we’re really gelled together. You still need individuals to go out there and perform, but it makes it easier when they’re performing for a reason rather than just for their own personal glory.”
You’ve spoken about how you toast individual successes with a beer at the close of play. Surely you just spent most of 2011 drunk in a dressing room... [Laughs] “Yes, as soon as we brought that in, the level of our performances seemed to go up by about five or 10 per cent! But things like that are important; if someone gets a hundred or a five-fer, that’s going to be one of the highlights of their career. So for people just to tap them on the back and walk off with a ‘well done mate’, I don’t think you’re quite appreciating enough what that guy has achieved for the team. I think it’s worked really well for us to sit down together for half an hour afterwards, have a drink and for someone to give a bit of a speech. Long may it continue.” >
Sport | December 16 2011 | 27
Gareth Copley/Getty Images
England’s all-conquering Test captain Andrew Strauss on winning, drinking and the best year of his career
Sport’s Athletes of the Year Andrew Strauss
“wE’vE gOT TO bE dEspERATE TO sTAY On TOp”
Gareth Copley/Getty Images
If there was one moment of cricket that summed up the past year, what would it be? “The session that was most pleasing to me was at Trent Bridge. India were on top in the game, about 50-odd runs ahead of us in the first innings with just four wickets down. Then Stuart Broad came on, got a hat-trick and we bowled them out very cheaply. We went on to win from there. It just demonstrated our belief that we were still in the game, and that we all thought we could still turn it around.” Now that you’ve achieved the goal of being the world’s number-one Test team, how will you ensure standards remain high? “We’ve got a very strong competition for places in the squad, so that’s obviously one good motivation to keep playing well. Also, I think we all understand that getting to number one in the world is great, but the only way we got there was by concentrating on every series, wanting to improve, keeping our standards high, keeping our work ethic and our ethos. We don’t have to do anything all that different to remain there.” Does being number one paint a big old target on your back? “Yes, the challenge is that now – because we’re number one, everyone wants to beat
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us even more than they did before. We’ve got to be desperate to stay on top, but I believe we’ve got that in the camp. We’ve also got a lot of guys at the peak of their careers at the moment. Our expectations of ourselves individually has risen too, and that’s a good starting point for further success.” Your overriding ambition is to make this the greatest England Test team of all time – how close are you to doing that? “We’ll know a lot more in 12 months’ time. We’ve got two series in the subcontinent and we’re playing against South Africa at home – if we come through those challenges unscathed then we’re getting close, but that’s a big ‘if’. There’s a lot of very tough cricket ahead of us.” Overall, though, has 2011 been the greatest year of your career? “Without a doubt. We’ve done so many things that if you’d told me were going to happen three or four years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. Also, it’s one thing getting to the top, but it’s another thing getting to share that with some great mates as well. So it’s fantastic – but hopefully there’s still more to come.” Andrew Strauss was speaking on behalf of WSM Communications, who manage Brit Insurance’s sponsorship of the England cricket teams. See wsmcommunications.com
TEAM OF THE YEAR 2011 ENGLAND TEST CRICKET TEAM
England’s 2011 Test record in full Australia v England Jan 3-7, Sydney, England win (innings and 83 runs) (Win series 3-1) England v Sri Lanka May 26-30, Cardiff, England win (innings and 14 runs) England v Sri Lanka June 3-7, Lord’s, Draw England v Sri Lanka June 16-20, Southampton, Draw (Win series 1-0) England v India July 21-25, Lord’s, England win (196 runs) England v India July 29-Aug 1, Trent Bridge, England win (319 runs) England v India Aug 10-13, Edgbaston, England win (innings and 242 runs) England v India Aug 21-25, The Oval, England win (innings and 8 runs) (Win series 4-0)
On Christmas Eve 2010, as England captain Andrew Strauss sat on Santa’s (metaphorical) knee, he shut his eyes tight and wished for several things. Firstly, to retain the Ashes in Australia (then poised at 1-1), plus series wins against Sri Lanka and India in the summer and – if he’d been a really good boy – maybe even knocking India off their summit and getting England top of the Test cricket rankings. England didn’t just achieve those lofty aims; they surpassed all expectations. Australia were bested on their own soil in an Ashes series for the first time since 1986-87, as England pushed on to claim a 3-1 victory; Sri Lanka were beaten 1-0 in a rain-affected series, before a glorious summer finale: a 4-0 whitewash of India and the position of number-one Test team in the world firmly secured. You can forget Father Christmas as well. The truth is that all this was achieved without the help of a tubby, bearded extrovert with a fondness for booze and pies. The days of the England team pinning their hopes on a messiah figure in the form of a spectacular individual talent – be that Beefy Botham or Freddie Flintoff – seem firmly in the past. This success was based not on one or two outstanding players, but on meticulous preparation and contributions from every single man in the side. It says something about the success of the England team that, in 2011, James Anderson ended an Ashes series in Australia with 24 wickets, Alastair Cook scored 927 runs in just 11 innings and Stuart Broad had the series of his life against India, yet no individual has been pushed forward as the hero. Rather, under the watchful eyes of coach Andy Flower and skipper Andrew Strauss, individuals have taken responsibility for their performances, resulting in collective success. The England Test side are a well-organised unit, a team in the truest sense – and right now, there’s no one better in the world at what they do.
Sport’s Athletes of the Year Hayley Turner
On becoming the first woman to ride the outright winner of a Group 1 event (the highest level of British flat racing) on Dream Ahead in the July Cup... “When I got the call from my agent asking me to ride Dream Ahead, I was out shopping and I shouted down the phone: ‘That’s brilliant!’ Everyone wants to ride in and win Group 1 races, but with racing it’s not something you can ever plan. It’s about getting on the right horses. There was massive hype after I won, which I wasn’t expecting. It was a bit like after I had 100 winners in 2008. Back then I thought I’d get ‘Star Performance’ in the Racing Post or something simple, but they really jumped on it – and this was the same.” On winning her second Group 1 race in six weeks, on Margot Did in the Nunthorpe Stakes... “Confidence definitely transfers to the horse and can play a big part in racing, but I think this was just Margot Did’s day. Everything just fell right for her. She was 20/1 for the race and I really believed she had it in her to win, but there were a couple of contributing factors in it too; I had figured out how to get the best out of her [Turner had ridden the horse in all 12 of Margot Did’s previous races] and also the drop back in trip – I think six furlongs has always stretched her a bit. The win was amazing because it was for Michael Bell, who’s been a big supporter and helped me to get to where I am now. It also showed that the first one was no fluke.”
On being named one of Sport’s Athletes of the Year... “It’s amazing, really. But I feel I’ve so much more still to achieve. I wouldn’t put myself in the category of the others named here at all, but I’m working on it.” Hayley Turner is an ambassador for Racing UK TV. Join Racing UK today on Sky, cable and online. Go to racinguk.com/join or call 0844 855 2977
30 | December 16 2011 |
Hayley Turner’s own website refers to her as “the UK’s number one female jockey”. She is indeed that, but she is also one of the UK’s finest jockeys full stop. Few jockeys win even a single Group 1 event, let alone two in swift succession, as Turner did this summer before breaking her ankle in a fall at the end of August. Having made headlines in 2008 by becoming the first female jockey in Britain to ride 100 winners in a calendar year, Turner’s big wins on Dream Ahead – a horse she found out she was riding only two days before the race – and Margot Did have ensured hers is a name held in high esteem... both by owners in search of a jockey and the rest of us in search of a decent bet.
Alan Crowhurst/ Getty Images
On this season’s end and next season’s beginning... “It was frustrating to end with an injury because I was having such a fantastic year – I felt like I had more to give. The horse was misbehaving, ran backwards and fell over, landing on my leg. I didn’t immediately realise it was broken though, because the doctor had a poke around and said it was fine. Mentally, it has probably done me good to get out of racing for a few months; it has made me even hungrier for next year. My main aim for 2012 is to stay healthy and see what happens. A ride in the Derby? If I come across a Derby horse, that’s great. Hopefully I will.”
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RORY THE STORY Rory McIlroy hit the highs and lows in 2011, as he demonstrated that few golfers on the planet have his talent or capacity to self-destruct. The great players always have a sense of theatre, both in victory and defeat. Think Jack, winning the Masters at 46. Think Tom, coming so close at Turnberry in 2009. Think Tiger at the Millennium Open. Think Seve – just think Seve – doing anything. And now, think Rory. The young Northern Irishman takes his place in this issue thanks to an incredible US Open victory in June, but that tells just part of the tale of Rory McIlroy in 2011. For in winning the second major of the year, he was able to exorcise the ghosts of the first. At the Masters in April, he had one hand on the trophy and was already being sized up for a Green Jacket (small). That was when we saw – not for the first time – that as brilliant as McIlroy is, he is also fallible: he began the final day four shots clear and,
although that lead had been whittled to one with nine holes to play, there was nothing to indicate what was coming. A horrendous snap-hook off the 10th tee, though, put Rory in someone’s front garden – and millions watched as the 21-year-old crumbled live on television. As he went triple-bogey, bogey, double-bogey, with tears in his glazed eyes, all chances of winning evaporated – and yet it was unmissable viewing. Golf fans the world over recognised in Rory something of themselves; as beautifully as he had played for the first three days, his game just fell to pieces in the heat of battle. The obvious claim was that he somehow lacked the temperament to handle the big occasion. Some even questioned whether he would win a major at all. It didn’t take long for him to answer his critics: he arrived smiling at Congressional Country Club for the US Open, and soon it was clear why. His game was in better shape than ever, and he knew it.
He routed the field to such devastating effect that this time the back nine on Sunday was an anticlimax. Never before has a US Open course, always set up to provide the toughest major in the calendar, been made to look so toothless. Rory strolled to victory almost unopposed. But then, as he had already demonstrated, Rory has flaws. At the Open Championship, where he was a warm favourite, he struggled in both the intense media spotlight and the appalling weather, and stormed away showing a first sign of petulance. As Darren Clarke lifted the Claret Jug, Rory was still making headlines as he declared: “I’m looking forward to getting back to America...” And, as the year came to a close, Rory once again gave golf a shot in the arm. Only by winning the Hong Kong Open could he arrive at the European Tour’s final event of the season in Dubai with a chance of winning the money list from Luke Donald. And, sure enough, he did just that – in typical theatrical fashion, sinking a bunker shot at the final hole. At some stage in 2012, he will almost certainly become world number one – to match the tennis ranking of new girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki. The world is his – or rather, theirs.
Anyone in any doubt about the majesty of McIlroy’s US Open victory needs to just look at the records he set that week. He recorded the lowest 72-hole total (268) in the tournament’s history (he also set records for lowest 36-hole and 54-hole marks); his -16 score was the lowest winning score (no player in history had ever even reached -13, and at one stage McIlroy even reached -17); he was the fastest to ever get to -10 (a staggering 26 holes); and he hit more greens in regulation than anyone ever has at a US Open, with 62 out of 72. He was eight clear of the luckless Jason Day, whose -8 total itself has only been bettered once in history. It was a performance that took the breath away, and the terrifying thing about it was he made it look so easy...
| December 16 2011 | 33
David Cannon/Getty Images
Sport’s Athletes of the Year Rory McIlroy
Sport’s Athletes of the Year Lionel Messi
Close to greatness
David Ramos/Getty Images
LIONEL MESSI By Pele
“I am a big fan of Lionel Messi – a big fan. Am I allowed to say he is the best player in the world, given he is Argentinian and I am Brazilian? Of course I am, just as I could say Maradona was a great player before him. That is fine, because we are brothers. Brothers can sometimes have problems getting along, but we are still brothers – and we don’t lose sight of that. “Clearly Messi is excellent and perhaps the best player in the world at this moment in time, particularly with the year he has had. What I like most about him is that he is a very technical player, very skilful, and he always seems comfortable on the ball. Nothing he does is ever rushed. I think this is more remarkable because of the players he has around him – the players marking him – yet he still finds space. But just as importantly, he always plays with a smile and sets a good example to everyone watching, which is more important than ever. “If I am being critical of him, I’d have to say he is obviously not the best in the air, but that is no secret, because of his size. He is also only one-footed for the majority of the time. He’s very good with that left foot, but still only one foot and not what you would call a complete player. “Too many players are labelled ‘great’ these days, and very few of them actually are. I think the last truly great and complete player we saw was Zinedine Zidane, because he played at the highest level for 10 years or more and could do everything. Messi is not at that level – not yet – but he is the best player in the world today, and the closest the modern game has to greatness. “I guess the question is whether Messi can get better – next year and beyond. Personally, I’m not sure he can – not at this stage of his career. The thing about Messi is that he’s had 11 years at his club and he has prepared himself for that time. I think he has reached the maximum of his potential, but he is at an extraordinary level and he just needs to stay there. If he can do that, if he can maintain his form, he will be a great player.” Pele spoke to Sport at the launch of Pele Sports, his new sportswear and lifestyle clothing brand. Go to pele-sports.com
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In the calendar year, from January 8 to December 14, Lionel Messi has scored 55 times in 62 games for club and country, including red-hot streaks of 13 in eight at the start of 2011 and 12 in his last 11 games. He’s scored six hat-tricks and nabbed nine two-goal hauls. But more than the extraordinary quantity is the quality and significance of his strikes – Messi scores crucial goals that are also, often, monumental. His Champions League final strike was key, so too his opener against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the semi final first leg of the competition. His second in the same game showcased his God-given gifts – a breathtaking solo run at full pelt past five defenders that evoked memories of Maradona in his prime. And there can be no higher accolade than that.
Sport’s Athletes of the Year Sebastian Vettel
LIFE IN THE FAST LANE In 19 races this season, Sebastian Vettel secured 15 pole positions, 17 podium finishes and 11 wins, helping him secure the title with four races to spare. Sport did what most of his rivals failed to do in 2011 and caught up with Formula 1’s back-to-back world champion... So, what was the highlight of the year for you? Does any one moment stand out? “It’s difficult to name only one race or one event. I think we had a fantastic season; it will still take some time to understand how fantastic it was. It has been phenomenal. I think it will be a season that we will look back on and be very proud of. These kind of seasons don’t come around every year. I’m sure when we look back we’ll have one or two highlights – races like Monaco or Monza were very special for us... the championship decider in Japan and the emotions afterwards. These kind of things you will never really forget.”
Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Was there a simple secret to your success? “I think first off you have to mention that this year was pretty smooth, and nearly faultless; we had no issues with reliability, except in Brazil – where we still managed to finish the race in second place. Other than that, nothing went wrong from a car point of view – the retirements we had were Mark [Webber]’s crash in Monza and the puncture I suffered in Abu Dhabi. But car-wise, engine-wise, everything was better than expected. Everything is built on the limit – you push in every area, and sometimes, here and there, things break. But this year everything was working fine, and the target is to keep that up. Hopefully [next season] it will be reliable from the start, but the most important thing is to make it fast. It’s easier to make a fast car reliable than a reliable car fast.” Would it be better for the sport if next season is more competitive? Can yours and Red Bull’s own dominance continue? “I think it’s been extremely competitive – much closer than the scoreboard indicated – throughout the season. Sometimes this year we had the first four cars in five seconds. If you look exactly 10 years back, there was probably a gap of 40 seconds between first and second. Those days are over, and gaps in qualifying have been very small most of the time. Next year the others will be pushing hard, and we need to push [again]. Otherwise, with the speed of development in F1, you very quickly go backwards. Adrian [Newey] and the guys are pushing very hard to get the car ready for next year. The last couple of years have been very successful, but in F1 we tend to look forward – so we look forward to the future, and forward to the next year.”
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Christian Horner, Red Bull team manager, on Vettel “He has a large amount of natural talent – he’s intelligent, he has the ability to adapt. And he is very astute. He’s very focused, very dedicated and he applies himself tremendously well. He’s always hungry to improve, to develop, and he’s a real pleasure to work with. He pushes the team hard, he pushes himself hard. Even if he’s won a race he’s always self-analytical of his performance and the team’s performance to learn what we could have done better, and that’s remarkably impressive for somebody so young. It’s always difficult to make comparisons across generations. I can only really compare what he’s doing against some great champions in the likes of Alonso, Hamilton, Button and Schumacher. He is the stand-out driver and he has propelled himself into that elite group of drivers who have achieved phenomenal things in F1. He’s achieved a double World Championship, he’s won almost a quarter of the races he’s entered, and he’s achieved the most pole positions of any Grand Prix season in the history of the sport. He’s been faultless in the way that he’s gone about his campaign, and the way that he’s driven this year has been hugely impressive.”
Vettel started the year as defending world champion in one of the strongest fields the sport has ever seen. He had to wait until the last race of 2010 to clinch that title, but it was an entirely different affair this time around, as he wrapped things up with four races to spare by finishing third at Japan’s Suzuka circuit. On top of his record of 17 podiums, 15 poles and 11 wins, Vettel also produced three fastest laps. Smooth, controlled and devastatingly quick, he immediately got to grips with the new tyres and rule changes to dominate the grid all year, leading for 739 of the season’s 1,133 laps and racking up an unmatchable 392 World Championship points.
Sport’s Athletes of the Year Graham Henry
HOORAY HENRY Having coached New Zealand to World Cup victory earlier this year – their first since the inaugural tournament in 1987 – coach Graham Henry is something of a hero in his homeland. He sat down with Sport to talk us through his blueprint for success...
STICK TO THE GAMEPLAN “We played basically the same gameplan for each match, but you make minor tweaks depending on who you’re playing. We had to look at the strengths of our opponents and change our defence around a bit – but basically the gameplan remained the same. “In the pool stages, we changed a lot of things from what we were doing in the Tri Nations in terms of our attack; then we went back to our Tri Nations setup – a tighter gameplan – in the knockouts. “The difference between 2007 and 2011 is that we were aware of not peaking too early this time around.” ExPERIENCE IS KEY “This side was better than the 2007 side because, as a unit, it’s more experienced. Richie McCaw has captained the team 60-odd times now, whereas in 2007 he had only been captain for a short amount of time. That experience makes an awful lot of difference, and it’s not a coincidence that he was a key player in us winning this championship. “If you look at World Cup captains from the past – Martin Johnson, John Smit, Francois Pienaar, John Eales – they’ve all had a huge amount of respect. Every team that’s won the tournament has had a captain who’s a remarkable person as well as a player – someone who’s led from the front. Richie was that man.” PEAK AT THE RIGHT TIME “I was worried because we’d had too much rugby. Our guys came off a Super XV season,
then played 12 Tests in 14 weeks, so I thought they were at a disadvantage compared to the northern-hemisphere sides. “As a result, we had to rest key players at certain times. In 2007, we peaked too early because our pool was too easy and we went all out. This time, we had a decent game against Tonga, Canada and Japan were both competitive, and then we had France. We ended up peaking in the semi finals, against Australia. “We had to be careful before the final, because the players were buggered. If we’d trained like normal, they’d have fallen over. So we had to decrease the amount of physical work. The psychological balance going into the game wasn’t quite right because we had beaten the French by 20 or so points and then come off that massive game against Australia. So I was proud of the players for digging deep and fronting up.”
LET THE PLAYERS POLICE THEMSELvES “We’ve got a leadership group of seven people, and anyone who slipped up had to front up to those seven and explain what the situation was. Then they had to apologise to the team. The best way of dealing with incidents is to let the players deal with it themselves. After the drinking incident [less than 72 hours before New Zealand’s quarter final against Argentina], Israel Dagg and Cory Jane apologised to everyone, then they were the best players on the field in the next game. They knew they had to prove themselves to their mates and they didn’t want to let their mates down – and that’s bloody important.” Graham Henry joins the likes of Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Shane Williams at The Rugby Site, a new website offering coaching videos from some of the world’s most celebrated names in rugby. See therugbysite.com
The team he coached to glory this autumn may have been the best in the world, but the All Blacks have proved before that form means nothing when a World Cup comes around. With the number of incidents going on – Dan Carter’s injury, Richie McCaw’s niggles, Cory Jane and Israel Dagg’s drinking issues – Henry had a balancing act just to keep this team going. And, if nothing else, his brave decision to withdraw fans’ favourite Piri Weepu in the final deserves credit for ultimately leading to the Kiwis’ victory. Henry retires from All Blacks duty with a record of 88 wins in 103 Tests, but what will forever matter more is the fact that he brought the Webb Ellis Cup back to New Zealand after 24 years of hurt.
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David Rogers/Getty Images
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Sport’s Images of the Year
THE BIGGER PICTURES If a picture truly is worth a thousand words, the following six shots must be worth at least 600,000 of them. For these are our six favourite sporting images of 2011. Of course, if that image-to-word ratio really is the case, we should probably stop chuntering on and let the pictures do the talking... PS. For many more exceptional images, see the Sport app (it’s free!) on December 30 for our mammoth 2011 Sports Photo Special.
DARKNESS AND LIGHT
Koen van Weel/AFP/Getty Images. Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Somewhere in this shot of Wales playing England at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in August, there’s bound to be at least one B-list celebrity who didn’t pay for their ticket. Just for fun, with absolutely no prizes up for grabs, why not see if you can spot him? Or her. Or them.
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BLOOD ON THE TRACKS
The award for the bravest and bloodiest athlete this year goes to Dutch Rabo rider Laurens ten Dam, who finished the 14th stage of this year’s Tour de France despite falling from his bike and snapping his nose clean off. There is no award, we should add – but if there was, he’d definitely get it.
Koen van Weel/AFP/Getty Images. Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Sport’s Images of the Year FALLING DOWN
Seconds after this shot was taken, Storm Warren’s shot dropped through the hoop and into the open mouth of Festus Ezeli, the young man lying on the floor labouring under the misaprehension he’s a Harlem Globetrotter. He isn’t, and that ball hasn’t been seen since.
ON THIN ICE
The longer you stare at this shot of five speedskaters racing in last March’s 1,000m heat in the ISU World Short Track Championships in Sheffield, the more you’ll start to feel like your eyes are about to implode. So, despite its aesthetic appeal, it’s probably best you look away now.
ROUND THE HOUSES
Having tonked his tee shot at Augusta’s 10th into someone’s bushes, Rory McIlroy watches his second shot trundle between the trees and back towards the fairway. Sadly, the game was up when his approach to the green ended up in a neighbour’s dustbin.
42 | December 16 2011 |
Kevin C Cox/Getty Images. David Cannon/Getty Images. Julian Finney/Getty Images. Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Yeah, it’s Tiger Woods and a giant pretend bull. What of it?
224 Days to go
THE VENUE Oh, it’s just a little-known north London arena by the name of Wembley. With Disney on Ice a regular visitor to Wembley Stadium’s smaller sibling, the classical elegance of the world’s best twirlers and ball-tossers (yes, it’s a skill) should fit in well. THE EVENT Unlike artistic gymnastics, in which athletes are required to perform on various forms of apparatus, rhythmic gymnasts display their talents only on the floor. They perform four short routines set to music, using one of the following pieces of equipment: a ball, rope, hoop, ribbon or clubs – or no equipment at all. Their aim is to keep the apparatus in constant motion throughout the routine and to use it in a wide variety of ways. So the ball can be bounced, tossed (there you go) or rolled, for example, and the ribbon can be used to create a multitude of different shapes. A panel of three judges combine to score a mark out of 20 for difficulty, execution and artistic quality. Penalties can also be incurred either by stepping outside of the 13m x 13m area or for going over the time limit, which is one minute 30 seconds for individuals and two minutes 30 seconds for groups.
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There will be two gold medals up for grabs, with prizes for the best all-around individual and best team performances. In the latter, teams of up to six competitors run through two routines – one with team members using an identical piece of apparatus, and the other using a combination of two different pieces. The ball and ribbon would combine well, we imagine. A bit like the rock and paper in rock, paper, scissors. TEAM GB’S PROGRESS According to Tim Jones, British Gymnastics Olympic performance director: “The BOA gave us the green light to implement a policy to nominate a gymnast for inclusion in Team GB for the individual event, and a clear performance standard that must be achieved before we consider nominating a group. This will not only ensure our performances in the London Olympics are credible, but also provide rhythmic gymnastics with a suitable legacy for the future.” RHYTHMIC GYMNASTICS AT LONDON 2012 DATES August 9-12 SEATING 6,000 HOW TO GET THERE National Rail, London Underground, London Overground
Francesca Jones AGE IN 2012 21 MEDAL RECORD Commonwealth Games silver 2010 (hoop) The 21-year-old five-time all-around British champion achieved the highest placing of any Briton at September’s Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in Montpellier...
One of seven members of the GB rhythmic gymnastics team based at the University of Bath, Jones brings valuable experience, having represented Wales at two Commonwealth Games. The squad is looking to be the first rhythmic group to represent Britain at the Olympics, but they face an uphill struggle with little funding behind them. The BOA have awarded them an individual host-nation place (taken by Jones), but for the group to qualify they must first prove they can compete with the best. January’s Olympic test event at the North Greenwich Arena has been identified as the place to do that, with the BOA demanding they achieve a preset benchmark score before guaranteeing their spot at London 2012.
KEY EVENTS BEFORE LONDON 2012 London 2012 Test Event January 16-18 2012, North Greenwich Arena, London
Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images. Julian Finney/Getty Images
An event that’s just for the ladies, this is gymnastics with added ribbons, music and, er, rhythm...
between the posts bath and england prop david Flatman’s not-so-inside take on the year in sport
P Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images. Mike Hewitt/Getty Images. Andrew Redington/Getty Images
icking my greatest sporting moments of 2011 is a tough task. It is made even tougher because I know that, above all else, the public just wants to hear about my winning try against Montpellier in the Heineken Cup a few weeks ago. However, through a combination of unimaginable humility and exhaustion at having been talking about it ever since, I’ve decided to leave it out. Forgive me – I’ll chapter it in the memoirs instead: Flat Out In Neutral – My Life in the Middle Lane… robin red best Actually – and I promise this has nothing to do with me being a semi-casual Arsenal fan – one of the most beautiful moments happened just days ago, as the Gooners took on Everton. It was the 125th anniversary of a hugely significant English sporting institution, and present were legions of legends past. The list of names was staggering; never have the players in this team been looked upon by such an expert group of luminaries. The pressure must have been immense but, just as it looked like the home side would do everything but score, Robin van Persie bulleted home a volley of such power and such exquisite technique that even the likes of Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira were left openmouthed. The ability to produce one’s very best when the spotlight shines brightest is a rare talent reserved for top athletes.
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the fighter Another came just last weekend, as relative underdog Lamont Peterson defeated our own Amir Khan. Now I love Khan every bit as much as the next pay-per-viewer, but it was the life that had led Peterson to this point that made it so special. Homeless and sleeping rough with his brother at the age of 10, he was taken in and given a bed by a local gym owner. He would train, eat, sleep and be grateful of shelter. Now, after what must rank as one of sport’s great personal turnarounds, he is champion of the world. Certainly, there were some iffy refereeing decisions in this fight, but history will not remember that. Anyone who watched will agree; Peterson is one hell of a bloke. football from another world We’ve also seen some wonderful team performances this year, not least the Barcelona side that won the Champions League. I remember watching them, hearing my phone ring and not even looking to see who it was. There was no time; the risk of missing something otherworldly was too great to risk any deviation of attention. The sheer acceleration of Lionel Messi, the frankly weird ability of both Xavi and Andres Iniesta not to give the ball away, and the brutish yet refined aggression of Carles Puyol at the back. All in one team. It was actually unfair at times; they were too good. Every time they were televised it felt like a
fireman sam: only warburton was igniting it against france in the world cup semis
“who knows what wales would have achieved had warburton not been banished in the semis?”
Sponsored by gone in 48 seconds: greene is just a blur as he races to flatman’s favourite sporting moment of the year
a momenT of CharaCTer wiTh The new peugeoT 308 Rugby is a sport that demands character. It had been 24 long years since New Zealand had won their only Rugby World Cup. Going into the 2011 final, the hosts had to overcome an unfancied French team who had been less than spectacular in the tournament, making the back pages for all the wrong reasons. Les Bleus, though, were desperate to prove their doubters wrong – and, having broken All Black hearts twice before at World Cups, this was never going to be a walk in Eden Park for the Kiwis. With star fly half Dan Carter ruled out of the tournament with a groin strain, and understudy Colin Slade also on the injury list, it was up to rookie Aaron Cruden to wear the famed number 10 jersey. As he was stretchered off after 34 minutes, the game was balanced on a knife-edge. The Frenchmen smelled blood. Step forward the most unlikely of heroes. Stephen Donald was a fine club player but had struggled to establish himself in the national side, with many questioning his ability to handle the pressure at this level of the game. Excluded from coach Graham Henry’s initial squad, Donald had received his last-minute call-up while fishing for whitebait. Now he stood with his country’s destiny in his hands – or, rather, at his feet. Donald slotted what proved to be the decisive penalty as the All Blacks went on to win by a solitary point. Donald may not have broken scoring records, but his three points might just be the most important in All Black history.
privilege to watch them. And you knew – you just knew – that you were watching something truly special. killer waleS Despite not having won the thing, I thought Wales were the team that went closest to perfection at this year’s Rugby World Cup. That quarter-final victory against Ireland was poetic in its ruthlessness. Against all the odds, the Irish had played unbelievably well and beaten title contenders Australia on the way to that clash. But they were totally outclassed by a group of men who knew exactly – to the millimetre – what needed to be done, and delivered. They were magnificent, and who knows what they might have achieved had Sam Warburton (left) not been banished in the semis? puTTing The world To The Sword Luke Donald has rightly been the golfer in the headlines this week. His achievements are borne out of godly talent and remarkable consistency, which is invariably the result of a thunderous work ethic. But the one single performance of the year I enjoyed the most was Rory McIlroy’s demolition of the field en route to victory in the US Open. To hammer golf’s illuminati like that was so incredible I found myself giggling as I watched. It was better than breathtaking; it was the greatest day of someone’s life played out before our eyes. I felt lucky to be there (my lounge).
day of his life: only, in rory’s case, we were all there to witness it
greene dayS The World Athletics Championships in Daegu produced my biggest disappointment of the year, as Usain Bolt false-started his way out of the 100m. For me, there is no more watchable athlete on the planet. But it’s not the pre-race histrionics that suck me in; it’s the sight of him in full flight. This is the human body in excelsis, every bit as wondrous as a cheetah at full pelt. But Daegu was also the venue for what, unexpectedly, was my favourite sporting moment of 2011. In truth, I wouldn’t usually tune in specifically to watch the 400m hurdles. I had to do it once at my school’s sports day, and it took me almost a quarter of an hour, climbing over each hurdle like a fence in the absence of the propulsion needed for an actual jump. Anyway, it’s invariably some lanky American wearing a less-than aerodynamic gold chain and wraparound glasses from The Terminator that wins it, right? Well this year they were all beaten by Dai Greene as he shocked all but himself by taking gold. Looking back, he was never going to lose; with the strength of character that shone out through his eyes on that final straight in South Korea, how could he? That last 50 metres was what sport is all about.
Time for full ConTaCT Scrum down for another ruck-and-roll rampage as talkSPORT’s Mike Bovill is joined by some of the biggest characters in the game to tackle rugby’s hardest-hitting issues and discuss the latest news from across the sport. The year is coming to an end, but the action never stops. full Contact with Mike Bovill, this Sunday from 8pm to 10pm, on talkSPORT 1089/1053AM. In association with the new Peugeot 308. Show some character.
never settle. The new peugeot 308. Show some character. Visit peugeot.co.uk
7 Days OUR PICK OF THE ACTION FROM THE SPORTING WEEK AHEAD
DEC 16–22 HIGHLIGHTS » Football: QPR v Manchester United » p50 » Boxing: Carl Froch v Andre Ward » p52 » Champions League: Last 16 draw » p52 » Snowboarding: LG FIS World Cup » p53 » Best of the Rest » p53
Sunday RUGBy UNION | HEINEKEN CUP: TOULOUSE v HARLEQUINS | STADE ERNEST WALLON | SKy SPORTS 1 3PM
So the winning run is finally over, then. What went wrong against Toulouse? “We never really got ourselves going. It’s disappointing, but the physicality they brought was effective, and they took their chances on the day. Their discipline was good, too, so we didn’t really get a chance.” Do you think you can beat them in France? “It’s definitely going to be tough. The aim in the Heineken Cup is normally to win your home games, but we know we have to win there to get out of our group. Hopefully we can come up with a few ideas to exploit them, and at least do ourselves a bit more justice.”
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Why have Quins started the season so well? “We weren’t missing as many key players as some teams, so we knew we had to start well, and we’ve just kept going because we’ve set ourselves high standards. We’re also playing with more control and cutting out the silly passes, so we’re happy to go through the phases and break teams down.” How key is Nick Evans to the team? “He’s pretty special. He’s definitely the best fly half in the Premiership, and to have that kind of player in your team really inspires the younger lads. He’s instrumental to our success.”
And then it’s Saracens in the Big Game 4 after Christmas. Looking forward to it? “yeah, it’s always a special occasion. As a player, you don’t get many chances to play in front of 80,000 fans, so you have to make the most of it. Of course, having the X Factor contestants perform and all that stuff adds something for the fans, plus it’s a London derby. And it’s first versus second – so it should be a special day out.” The Big Game 4 is at Twickenham on December 27. For info, visit thebiggame.co.uk. To buy tickets, go to ticketmaster.co.uk
Warren Little/Getty Images
After Harlequins’ unbeaten run finally came to an end last week, captain Chris Robshaw tells us how his side are looking for some French revenge
7 Days Saturday Boxing | Carl FroCh v andre Ward | atlantiC City | Sky SportS 1 midnight
Friday FootBall | ChampionS league knoCkout draW | nyon, SWitzerland Sky SportS neWS 10.30am
Cobra time Hard handshakes, hard stares and dismissive references to his rival’s “feather-duster punches” – Carl Froch has gone out of his way to get under andre Ward’s skin. there’s a reason for the ken dodd comparison: unbeaten super-middleweight and olympic gold-medallist Ward is arguably the finest boxer ‘the Cobra’ has ever faced, and luring him into a brawl is to the nottingham-born tough guy’s advantage. that said, Froch has a height and reach advantage and may look to work off the long,
snaking jab that was so effective for him against arthur abraham in 2010. unfortunately, Ward is nowhere near as static a target as abraham. the sharp, stylish american has an array of skills, including a strong in-fighting game (where he isn’t averse to sticking his head in and playing rough). Froch’s strengths lie in his superb condition, granite chin and an unbreakable will to win. Whether he can bring that to bear against a gifted opponent seven years his junior is the tantalising question that makes this unification showdown an unmissable contest.
It’s a knockout!
For once, the group stages of the Champions League threw up some surprises, so it’s a somewhat unfamiliar line-up heading into the last 16. Group winners can only meet second-placed sides, and they cannot play teams from their own group or country at this stage. Arsenal and (eventually) Chelsea topped their respective groups, so we take a look at the teams they could come up against... Napoli admirably navigated the Group of Death, losing just once, to Bayern Munich. Edinson Cavani (four goals) and Marek Hamsik’s attacking flair make Napoli a very un-Italian proposition going forward, and neither English club would relish a trip to Naples.
Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images. Sebastien Nogier/AFP/Getty Images
CSKA Moscow beat Inter at the San Siro in the last game to scrape qualification with just eight points. They rely heavily on Seydou Doumbia, who scored five of their nine group goals. A lengthy away journey, but this is probably the dream draw for AVB and Arsene Wenger. Basel proved they are a trickier proposition than many make out with their win over Manchester United last week – the ageing frontline of Alexander Frei (five goals in five games) and Marco Streller are capable of causing problems, although their 10 goals conceded is more than anyone left in the competition. Lyon had scored only two goals in the group before their bizarre 7-1 destruction of Dinamo Zagreb. Two 0-0 draws with Ajax and an aggregate defeat of 6-0 to Real Madrid indicate that this Lyon are not as strong as the side of old.
Zenit St Petersburg collected seven points at home and conceded just one goal, so the away leg could be tricky. They will have just emerged from the depths of their winter break when the ties are played, so could lack match sharpness, but they’ve kept three consecutive clean sheets in Europe. AC Milan are surely the horror scenario for Arsenal and Chelsea, despite collecting only nine points in their group. They were magnificent in both Barcelona games and were unlucky to collect just a point, and two late goals conceded in the meaningless final fixture against Plzen served to lower their total. Marseille failed to score against both Arsenal and Olympiakos at home, and are struggling domestically (eighth in Ligue 1) too. Still, the fast and powerful Loic Remy and Andre Ayew could threaten Chelsea’s defence, which has been far from solid this term. Bayer Leverkusen won all their home games but only collected one point away – and that was at Genk. They did beat Chelsea, though, and the physicality of Swiss forward Eren Derdiyok could cause Arsenal problems.
The Europa League draw follows the Champions League draw. Groups are yet to be decided as we go to press, but Manchester’s giants can look forward to the likes of Legia Warsaw and Hannover 96
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Chairman of the board
BEST OF THE REST
CRICKET South Africa v Sri Lanka: First Test Day 3 Centurion, Sky Sports 4 8.30am FOOTBALL SPL: Aberdeen v Hibernian Pittodrie, ESPN 12pm HORSE RACING The Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle Ascot, Channel 4 3.35pm RUGBY UNION Heineken Cup: Leinster v Bath Aviva Stadium, Sky Sports 1 6pm BOXING Welterweight: Kell Brook v Luis Galazar Atlantic City, Sky Sports 1 12am
next summer, england’s football team will have to travel something like 5,000 miles as they attempt to negotiate the group stages of the European Championships. Spare a thought, then, for competitors taking part in the LG FIS Snowboard World Cup, which is held in a total of15 different countries and is yet to visit the US, Finland, Italy and Switzerland, where it comes to a close in January. Britain’s Jamie Nicholls (above) will be in action in the halfpipe – which resumes in Ruka, Finland – having just missed out on a medal in front of his home crowd after coming fourth in the 53-man field at London’s Battersea Power Station in October. The 18-year-old’s turn was the best ever big air performance by a British rider. Elsewhere in the field, look out for Australian Nathan Johnstone, the defending men’s halfpipe champion, who currently sits eighth on the leaderboard; and China’s Xuetong Cai – in third – who holds the ladies’ title. Failing that, sit back and enjoy a few backside buttslides. Oh, and if it’s snowing come the weekend, do not try this at home.
WINTER SPORTS Luge World Cup: Men’s Run 2 Calgary, British Eurosport 12am
DARTS World Darts Championship Day 4 Alexandra Palace, Sky Sports 1 7pm FOOTBALL Serie A: Napoli v AS Roma ESPN 7.45pm
Monday CRICKET South Africa v Sri Lanka: First Test Day 5, Centurion, Sky Sports 2 8.30am FOOTBALL Championship: Crystal Palace v Birmingham, Selhurst Park, Sky Sports 1 7.45pm EQUESTRIAN Olympia Horse Show, Olympia Grand Prix, London, British Eurosport 9pm NFL San Francisco v Pittsburgh Candlestick Park, ESPN 1.30am
tueSday NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Dallas Cowboys Raymond James Stadium, Sky Sports 3 1am
DARTS World Darts Championship Day 6 Alexandra Palace, Sky Sports 2 7pm
FOOTBALL Serie A: Cagliari v AC Milan Stadio Sant’Elia, ESPN 7.45pm
CRICKET Bangladesh v Pakistan: Second Test Day 2, Dhaka, Sky Sports 4 3.30am GOLF Thailand Golf Championship Day 4 Chonburi, Sky Sports 3, 6.30am
CRICKET Bangladesh v Pakistan: Second Test Day 4, Mirpur, Sky Sports 4 3.30am
WedneSday RUGBY UNION Heineken Cup: Munster v Scarlets Thomond Park, Sky Sports 2 1pm
FOOTBALL Serie A: Inter Milan v Lecce San Siro, ESPN 7.45pm
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Saturday > SNOWBOARD WORLD CUP | DECEMBER 17, RUKA, FINLAND | BRITISH EUROSPORT 2 11PM; DECEMBER 22, TELLURIDE, USA | BRITISH EUROSPORT 2 3.30PM
P58 Strings attached, oh yeah! It’s the Gibson Firebird X, and it’s revolutionary...
Extra time Kit
Making the most of your time and money
Pedal gear. Solid. Imagine how awesome the BMX Bandits would have looked if they’d had this stuff
Boardman women’s cycle helmet £60 | halfords.com
Louis Garneau Revo XR3 road shoe
Louis Garneau Sotchi gloves
£90 | evanscycles.com
£40 | evanscycles.com
Team Sky 2011 short-sleeve jersey
MFX Elite Series padded shorts
Dare2b Verticity cycle jacket
£43 | evanscycles.com
£18 | sportsdirect.com
£40 | halfords.com
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Extra time Sophie Horn
Not one to rest on her laurels, Sophie has also produced a 2012 calendar that will see many a forlorn, lonely, single golfer through the whole of the next year. And if anyone questions her golfing credentials, this is the girl who was county under-21 champion at the age of 15 and eventually county champion three years in succession. She can play, the Horn.
Get the Horn belt at dbbelts.com. Calendars from glamourgirlcalendars.com/sophiehorn
ophie Horn is something of a favourite at Sport magazine. Sheâ€™s perhaps the busiest girl in golf this year, what with her constant magazine and TV work, not to mention a Twitter presence that many would class as a full-time job in itself. The four-handicapper, who grew up at a golf club owned by her parents, is a regular fixture on celebrity and charity circuits, and is now branching into golf fashion with her own brand of belts (the Horn belt) made by Druh Belts.
Extra time Gadgets
Future music This week, a guitar that tunes itself, some medically approved headphones... and, yes, David Hasselhoff’s in-car hands-free kit
Beats Studio by Dr Dre headphones When he’s not busy writing prescriptions, performing complicated surgery or forging medical qualifications, Dr Dre designs quality headphones. And these are no exception. They have advanced noise-cancellation technology and, equally exciting, a mute button.
Gibson Firebird X Could this be the most technologically advanced guitar ever made? Quite possibly, for this limitededition instrument has a wide range of revolutionary features. It lets you select and control effects from the body of the guitar, it can tune itself with inbuilt robo-tuners, and you can instantly post your riffs to Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Okay, we might have made that last one up. £3,299 | gibson.com
£187 | pixmania.co.uk
Still stubbornly refusing to relinquish your Nokia 3310? It’s time to let go of the monochrome screen, leave behind your Snake II high score and move into the world of smartphones. This affordable option runs Android Gingerbread 2.3, a horrifying robot-bakery operating system.
Are you in so much of a rush that you don’t even have time to pull a card out of your pocket, let alone type in your PIN? Then this watch with contactless payment tech might be for you. A total gimmick? You bet. But buying lunch from Pret never looked so cool.
£99 PAYG | tmobile.co.uk/shop
£99 | watch2pay.co.uk
Parrot MiniKit+ Offering true hands-free synchronisation with smartphones, this device lets you make and receive calls, and can even read out texts. So get a friend to text you and persuade other people your car is KITT from Knight Rider. £70 | halfords.com
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Extra time Grooming
Best in show For our last issue of the year, we name our favourite male grooming launches of 2011 – starting with the best of the lot
While the rest of the world went crazy with new deodorants promising 48, 72 and even 96-hour ‘freshness’, Ralph Lauren took the old-fashioned route of releasing a range that looked sensational and smelled great. Simple but effective, and our favourite launch of the entire year.
Summer seems a long time ago now, but no fragrance captured its mood better than this soft, watery scent from Marc Jacobs. A staggeringly refreshing blend opens with an enduring note of orange, with violet, pear and apricot leading into a base of white moss and musk. Top of the fragrance shop for 2011.
July | £15 each | selfridges.com
April | £48 | houseoffraser.co.uk
Ralph Lauren The Big Pony Collection
Marc Jacobs Splash Curacao 300ml
label.m Honey & Oat Shampoo The manuka honey in this new release from label.m not only smells great, but also helps repair cell damage, transforming dry and dehydrated hair into a soft and lustrous thatch. Throw in the stylish packaging, and this shampoo is comfortably our pick of 2011. July | £11.50 | labelm.co.uk
sport’S proDuct oF tHe year
Some good new ranges have launched this year, including the excellent NGT by Nougat London for Men, but this fairtrade bath and bodycare set from Baylis & Harding gets the vote for its philanthropical edge. Each purchase benefits farmers’ co-operatives in Pakistan and Nicaragua, not to mention your skin.
Gillette kicked off 2011 in style with the launch of their excellent new Fusion ProGlide razor. The manual version was fine, but the real star of the show was the ProGlide Power – which came with a special microcomb to help guide hair to the five super-fine blades. Very much the Rolls Royce of modern shavers.
category, but the ladies always look at a man’s teeth – and this new superpaste, the first to combine stannous fluoride with the Polyphosphtae System (no, us neither) stands head, shoulders and gnashers above every other paste on the market. A July miracle.
A first foray into the men’s market for Parisian luxury cosmetics brand Sisley back in March, and one we very much approved of. This anti-ageing moisturiser may be more than 10 times the price of L’Oreal’s impressive Vita Lift 5 (next up), but if you have the cash to burn you won’t find a better formula on the market.
And not just for recruiting Hugh Laurie as the face of the ad campaign, although we did like that. L’Oreal’s latest new moisturising formula, enriched with Pro Retinol and ginseng, is both easy to apply and effective – two things that men across the nation will always appreciate.
June | £3 each | baylisandharding.com
January | £12.99 | boots.com
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Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power Razor
Oral B Pro Expert Toothpaste Sisleyum for Men Anti-age Global Revitalizer Something of a leftfield
July | £3.49 | boots.com
March | £150 | houseoffraser.co.uk
L’Oreal Men Expert Vita Lift 5 Complete Anti-ageing Daily Moisturiser
October | £12.99 | Available nationwide
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Baylis & Harding Fairtrade Collection
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Extra time Entertainment
Sherlock Holmes, Sarah Lund and tracking down the majestic polar bear DVD
Tenacious crime-solver and walking knitwear catalogue Sarah Lund returned to the BBC of late for a 10-part second series. The run-time is crucial as, superb as the original was, a 20-hour duration really did stretch the concept. The Killing II covers similar themes to series one – a gruesome murder with a political edge – but is taut and better paced. Beneath the murky surface, there’s also plenty here about cultural unease in modern-day Denmark, but you don’t have to give a hoot about that to relish this twisting thriller. Out on DVD on Monday.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Guy Ritchie’s reinvention of the great fictional sleuth was a global smash, but this wasn’t Sherlock Holmes of your dad’s generation. Rather, Richie created a sort of steampunk Iron Man, with Robert Downey Jr’s Holmes using his inventions and razor-sharp mind to assault bad guys more often than solve mysteries. The director delivers more of the same in A Game of Shadows, pitting Holmes against criminal mastermind Moriarty, but relying more on humour and quickfire action than a brain-teasing plot. Thankfully, Downey Jr and Jude Law have a natural chemistry together, while the most eagerly awaited addition to the cast is Stephen Fry as the intellectual Mycroft Holmes (who refers to his little brother as “Shirley”). Hardly subtle, but this looks like another damn fun ride.
+- Joy Divison
Ice Bear Kieran Mulvaney If the Frozen Planet series piqued your interest in the world’s largest land predators, Ice Bear is for you. This fascinating book by the leader of three Arctic expeditions covers all aspects of the polar bear: its life, past and uncertain future. The text gels perfectly with some amazing pictures of the cuddly beasts – and it’s out in paperback on January 5 (or in hardback now, if you can’t wait).
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Next week sees a CD release for this boxset containing remastered versions of all 10 Joy Division singles. Ultimate first-dance wedding song Love Will Tear Us Apart may be the band’s iconic track, but Atmosphere and Transmission still retain their haunting brilliance 30 years on – and the B-sides are a rare treat.
GAME Grand Theft Auto 3 iOS, Android
The Dreamer/The Believer Common It’s hard to marry the idea of Common – the socially conscious rapper – telling us he wants his woman “butt naked in the kitchen flipping pancakes”, but this new album finds the Chicago native in playful form. Stand-out track is Sweet, which features a bouncing No ID beat. Far from the most profound Common production, but the glee in his voice transmits straight to your tapping toes.
The greatest Grand Theft Auto game of all screeches on to tablets and smartphones this week, 10 years after its original release. Epic in scope and revolutionary as an open-world game, it’s truly blowing our minds that it now costs just £2.99 to have the chance to steal virtual police cars and run down pedestrians. This truly is progress, folks.
Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Diesel
The Killing II
EAU DE LACOSTE L .12 .12 THE LACOSTE POLOSHIRT IN A FRAGRANCE COLLECTION