2020 was a remarkable year for a myriad of reasons. With the world trying to fight off the global Coronavirus pandemic, sport was often an afterthought. With fans unable to attend events in person, the look and feel of live sport changed beyond recognition, but the perseverance and hard work of governing bodies, clubs and sportspeople alike ensured that we could all enjoy the action from afar. Here are some of our sporting highlights from a unique and challenging year.
This has been a remarkable year in football. On a domestic level, Liverpool’s dominant 2019/20 Premier League campaign will live long in the memory. Jurgen Klopp’s side were made to wait for their first league title for 30 years, and it must have been hard for Reds fans to watch on from a distance, but Liverpool’s start to the current Premier League campaign has given them every chance to provide their fans some belated celebrations later this year by retaining their title.
Leeds United also had a remarkable year. Their promotion from the Championship ended a wait of 16 years for Premier League football, and they look like they’ll be around in the top flight for a while with a strong start this season.
Arguably the most dramatic moment in football in 2020 came from Belgrade in November, when Scotland secured qualification to a major finals for the first time since 1998.
UEFA Champions League winners Bayern Munich also deserve a mention. The Bavarian giants won their first major European honours in seven years and completely dominated the sport in their native Germany.
Football also sadly lost one of its greatest ever players in Diego Maradona.
The innovation displayed this year by the NBA must be applauded. With the Coronavirus striking in the middle of the NBA’s regular season, the league struck a plan to form a bubble, containing all teams who still stood a chance of making postseason, at the Disney World Resort near Orlando. The story that then unfolded in Florida was worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster script.
2020 has not been short of tragedies, but the sporting world was shaken back in January when LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant died with his daughter as a result of a helicopter crash. Basketball had lost an icon and the entire sporting world mourned.
Fast-forward to October, and the Lakers were lifting the Larry O’Brien for a record-equalling 17th time, thanks to a Game Six Championship win over the Miami Heat. Watching the likes of Lebron James and Anthony Davis was a joy to behold, as were the tributes that flooded to the legendary Bryant throughout the Championship run-in.
Somewhat understandably for a sport that thrives on large live audiences, the biggest boxing event of 2020 came before the COVID-19 outbreak. Tyson Fury’s 2018 draw with Deontay Wilder will go down as one of the most dramatic heavyweight duals of all time, and this year’s rematch underlined Fury as the greatest active fighter in his division after securing a seventh round stoppage.
The boxing world has also been incredibly smart to continue to put on shows since the pandemic struck. Joe Joyce’s surprise victory over Daniel Dubois made headlines in the UK, whilst Anthony Joshua’s measured destruction of Kubrat Pulev also caught the eye.
This year will also go down as a breakthrough year for women’s boxing. The sport’s poster girl Katie Taylor notched another win over Delfine Persson in the most high-profile event in the women’s game. Special mentions must also be made for Terri Harper, Savannah Marshall and Chantelle Cameron, who all became World Champions in an outstanding 12 months for female British boxers.
Other sporting achievements in 2020
Lewis Hamilton has hit the headlines recently, having been knighted in the Queen’s New Year Honours. This personal accolade is the cherry on top of an incredible year for the Mercedes driver. Hamilton equalled the legendary Michael Schumacher’s record of seven F1 world titles.
In rugby union, Exeter had a fantastic 2020 securing their first ever Premiership and Champions Cup double, winning the title of the best domestic rugby side in Europe.
Whilst Ronnie O’Sullivan secured the biggest prize in snooker for a sixth time, it will be Judd Trump’s outstanding performances which will be remembered for lighting the sport up in 2020. With 102 centuries last season, and 42 already this season, Trump is in the form of his life. The world number one secured a record six ranking titles in 2020.
2020 provided a very disruptive year for tennis, with no Grand Slam taking place at Wimbledon. However, Novak Djokovic and Sofia Kenin were victorious at the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal – who else? – and Iga Świątek secured the titles at Roland Garros, whilst Naomi Osaka and Dominic Thiem were victorious at Flushing Meadows.