It has been another astonishing year of sporting drama, from Andy Murray’s emotional ‘retirement’ speech, to England’s highs and lows in the cricket and rugby World Cups.
Here, the PA news agency looks back on five of the best and worst sporting moments of 2019.
England claim astonishing World Cup triumph
Arguably the greatest one-day match staged as England – inspired by Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler – lifted the trophy for the first time on the boundary count back rule after the two teams had finished tied after 50 overs at Lord’s in July, and again following the most astonishing super over, with Martin Guptill run out off the final ball in attempting a push for two that would have won the game. Stokes took matters into his own hands once again to lead England to an against-all-odds victory against Australia at Headingley in this summer’s drawn Ashes series, scoring 135 not out.
Tiger Woods ends long wait for a Major
It had been 11 years since Woods had last won a Major, during which time he had been hit with injuries and personal difficulties. Not many gave the 43-year-old much hope of breaking that drought heading into the Masters in Augusta in April, but Woods rolled back the years and held his nerve on the final day when under pressure from a trio of leading players, with many hailing it the greatest comeback in sports.
Lewis Hamilton does it again
Hamilton wrapped up his sixth Formula One world title with two grands prix to spare following another dominant campaign that has left him one shy of Michael Schumacher’s all-time haul of seven championships. En route, the 34-year-old equalled his own personal best tally of 11 wins in a season from the 21 grands prix.
Liverpool and Spurs stage stunning comebacks
To highlight one would be to diminish the other when both were utterly remarkable. Beaten 3-0 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final at Barcelona, Liverpool produced one of those magical nights under the lights at Anfield to win the return 4-0 and take their place in the final. As for Spurs, they were down and out at 3-0 down after 54 minutes of their semi-final second leg at Ajax, only for Lucas Moura to score a hat-trick, including a 90th-minute equaliser on the tie overall, to claim their final spot on the away goals rule.
Asher-Smith and Johnson-Thompson shine on world stage
Again, both deserve a mention for their stand-out performances at the World Athletics Championships, with Dina Asher-Smith becoming the first Briton to win three medals at a World Championships, taking gold in the 200m and silver in the 100m and 4x100m. Katarina Johnson-Thompson, meanwhile, captured the heptathlon crown, beating defending champion Nafi Thiam, and with her winning margin of 304 points the largest at the event since 1987.
AJ stunned in the Big Apple
Without doubt it was one of the greatest shocks in boxing history as Andy Ruiz Jr, a 12/1 underdog and fighting at six weeks’ notice, stopped Anthony Joshua in the seventh round at New York’s Madison Square Garden on June 1 – flooring him four times throughout – to take the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight belts from the previously unbeaten Briton. Joshua reclaimed the titles in a rematch in Saudi Arabia in December.
England’s Rugby World Cup final no-show
England’s remarkable 19-7 semi-final victory over New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup in Japan was one of the best moments of 2019, and they rightly went into the final against South Africa as favourites. But Eddie Jones’ side were comprehensively beaten 32-12 by the Springboks as they were barely recognisable from the team that had dismantled the All Blacks.
Racism rears its ugly head
Racist and homophobic chanting has been on a malevolent rise in recent times, and it reached its peak on a sorry night in Sofia in October when England’s 6-0 European Championship qualifying win over Bulgaria was overshadowed by racist taunts towards Gareth Southgate’s players that brought two stoppages, and the game coming close to being called off.
Bury bow out of the Football League
Just four months after celebrating promotion to League One, Bury were expelled by the English Football League after failing to find a buyer to rescue them from their financial difficulties. In doing so, the Shakers became the first club to drop out of the Football League since Maidstone United were liquidated in 1992.
Emotional Murray announces retirement plan
It was heartbreaking to watch as Andy Murray, his voice choking at times and with tears in his eyes, announced his intention to retire after Wimbledon at a press conference during the Australian Open in January. The three-time Grand Slam champion said the pain from a chronic hip injury was becoming too much to bear, and he was given a resounding send-off in Melbourne following a five-set first-round loss to Roberto Batista Agut. However, he underwent surgery to resurface the hip and returned to action at Queen’s in June and partnered Serena Williams in the mixed doubles at Wimbledon.