It’s always tricky distilling a year’s viewing of a number of sports into a few high points, but I’m going to try. You might be surprised at the results but, then again, you might not!
1. Rudy Molard’s stage victory in Paris-Nice
There’s really nothing better than watching someone you know win, particularly when it’s their first big win. I was delighted for him – my race winning brownies worked their magic again!
Rudy’s move to FDJ is proving to be inspired and he’s really blossomed in his second year with them. His main role in the team is to ride in support of Thibaut Pinot and in this year’s Vuelta a Espana he spent four days (stages 6 – 9) in the leader’s jersey while undertaking that role after getting into a long range break on stage five. It was the first time in 13 years that an FDJ rider had worn a race leader’s jersey in a Grand Tour.
Sadly, the Vuelta was the one grand tour we didn’t see this year due to other commitments. However, I’m sure we’ll have plenty of opportunities to see Rudy race in the coming season.
2. #Level7 for Marc Marquez
This year we watched the MotoGP Catalunya live and every other round of the World Championship on the television. It was an exciting year’s racing with #MM93 being challenged by a number of other riders but he finally nailed the championship in Honda’s back yard (Motegi, Japan).
Marquez has had another blistering season after a controversial start that saw him get into a spot of bother with Valentino Rossi at the Argentine MotoGP but the young Spaniard turned things around in emphatic style as he performed another world title smash-and-grab.
Interestingly, #MM93 also maintained his reputation of the King of Premier Class Crashers. Last season he racked up 27, and the reigning Champion began this season saying he wanted to make sure 2018 went a little smoother. It did, he had 23 crashes, with only two of them coming on Sunday afternoon as he crashed out at Mugello and Valencia. But that’s what happens when you’re always on the limit!
3. Super Mario stays at OGC Nice
It was touch and go at times but we retained Mario Balotelli’s services for the final year of his contract. However, after a will he stay or will he go tug of war with OM, Super Mario started the season with a three-match ban and was out of sorts when he returned to action. In truth, we’re still waiting for him to hit his stride.
However, I’m confident new manager Patrick Viera will soon have him firing on all cylinders, that’s if he doesn’t decide to jump ship in the January transfer window!
4. France win the World Cup
France became 2018 FIFA World Cup champions, besting Croatia 4-2. France had entered the tournament as one of the favourites thanks to stars such as Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann, while Croatia was a longshot. After the game, manager Didier Deschamps said:
We are world champions and France are going to be on top of the world for the next four years.
The victory meant celebrations erupted all over France though nobody was more excited than French President Emmanuel Macron seen below celebrating at the stadium.
However, the scenes that will remain in my memory are those where the French public paid homage to the team on the Champs Elysee.
5. Return of Rafa Nadal
The 2018 Rafael Nadal tennis season officially began on 15 January 2018, with the start of the Australian Open and (sadly) ended on 8 September 2018, with a loss at the semifinals of the US Open and subsequent injury.
The season was largely shortened by the hip, knee, abdominal and ankle injuries Nadal suffered during the year. He played only nine tournaments, his lowest since 2002 (which was his first year on the ATP tour). However, the season still saw Nadal win five titles including a record extending 11th title at the French Open, reclaim the No 1 spot and have his highest winning percentage of a single season at 91.83%.
What were your sporting highlights in 2018? Let me know in the comments section below.