Sheree’s 2018 Sporting Highlights

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.

On his way to claiming his seventh world championship crown – that’s now five in the premier class, one in Moto2 and one in Moto3 – Marquez has scored five pole positions, six fastest laps and seven race victories. No one was able to keep up with the Spaniard in 2018.
 

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.

And we’re off

Our trip got off to a great start. We had decided to break our journey overnight at the hotel in the Dubai airport. When we checked in we were upgraded to a suite. Extra space is always welcome but for me the star turn was the massage chair which gave my back and neck a great work out. Just what you need after a longish flight.

After a slap up breakfast for my beloved, and fresh fruit for me, in the gi-normous Emirates lounge, we boarded our flight for Melbourne and were upgraded to first class. This trip just gets better and better.

2016-01-07 04.09.17

My beloved frequently gets upgraded, thanks to his fine array of airline loyalty cards. Our last upgrade together was on an overnight flight from Dubai to Frankfurt where I found myself sitting across the aisle from Rafa Nadal and Uncle Tony. I should add Nadal is smaller and better looking in the flesh than he appears on television, and he has a lovely shy smile.

I first tasted first-class travel back in the mid-80s on a business trip to the Far East and, largely due to competition from the Middle-Eastern airlines, it has since much refined its offering.

When I first flew with Cathay Pacific I have to confess I surveyed the small cloakroom and concluded if you wanted to join the mile high club you’d both have to be contortionists. Well, no longer! I’m delighted to report that the first class facilities on Emirates include no less than two cloakrooms and two bathrooms for 14 flyers, the latter with a shower and dressing room. I’ve had smaller hotel bathrooms. So did we join? That would be telling!

Of course, the real beauty of first-class is SPACE, each seat is a suite. There’s more than enough room for all your bits and pieces, a spacious chair/flat-bed which also provides a variety of in-chair massages, your own bar, snacks, a wide tv screen, WiFi and all the usual bells and whistles you’d expect if you were paying £6,000 (return) for the priviledge. A bit of a bargain since my debut first class flight in 1984 was £2,600. Thank you Emirates, you’ve gotten my birthday trip off onto a fine footing.