The moments that you replayed on YouTube at the beginning of 2015 have probably faded into insignificance; we can only hold so many music videos and vines after all the useful stuff.
So allow us to refresh your memory with some of the highlights over the last 12 months. 10 stand out. Which ones do you think deserve to make the cut?
Anyone that saw Gervinho’s missed penalty against Zambia in 2012 probably assumed that the time had passed for Les Éléphants. But things change quickly.
‘Golden Generation’ is a term that is thrown around loosely with sports teams, especially in football. When a collection of players happens to mature and prosper at the same time, people can’t help but get their expectations up about future success and the Ivory Coast have been the latest nation to be given this tag.
In February, they beat Ghana in a tense shootout in the final of the African Cup of Nations. To add insult to injury for Ghana, the winning strike was scored by keeper Boubacar Barry.
The NBA brought glitz and glamour with its first exhibition game on the continent in the summer. Ellis Park Arena in downtown Johannesburg hosted a match between players from around the world including All-Stars Luol Deng and Chris Paul. Many of the players on show were not alive when Hakeem ‘The Dream’ Olajuwon became the first African player selected at no. 1 in the 1984 draft, but he and Dikembe Mutombo ‘Mount Mutombo’ played in the game to the delight of viewers.
Nikola Vučević got a taste of Hakeem’s skills, as he brought back the ‘Dreamshake’.
Many years ago, Pele said that an African team would win the World Cup before the year 2000… and that hasn’t really happened yet. However, teams from the continent continue to be successful in the youth tournaments with Nigeria retaining the U-17 World Cup in November. Cynics might argue that this is because the average age of the Nigerian youth team is about the same as the senior team.
These guys celebrated the win like they’d never touched a trophy before.
The World Championships have pretty much been dominated by Russia and the United States historically. The last time one of the countries didn’t top the medal rankings was 1983. But in August, Kenya managed to disrupt the order by topping the table with a plethora of medals.
The highlight of the competition was Julius Yego’s monster throw which was the longest from any athlete in almost a decade.
For a competition dominated by tall European behemoths, the sight of a stocky African blowing completion out of the water definitely raised an eyebrow or two.
The 400 metres final in Beijing featured both LaShawn Merritt and Kirani James who have more gold than a rapper’s grill. Wayne managed to beat both stars to become the fourth fastest man in history over the distance. If that wasn’t enough, it was the first race where three men ran under 44 seconds, and at the end of the race in the Bird’s Nest, he needed medical treatment for extreme exhaustion.
Anyone that follows tennis closely has seen Andy Murray evolve from a scrawny teenager to a beast. The US Open is one of his favourite tournaments and it was his first Grand Slam in 2012. But he was ousted by the giant South African Kevin Anderson in four sets.
We know a defeat can be tough Andy, but please show some restraint.
Zimbabwean international team football teams of both genders have not been particularly successful. Neither has played in an international tournament of any sort and the men’s side only appeared in the Cup of Nations for the first time in 2004. But it looks like it’s changing: the women managed to qualify for the Rio Olympics by beating Cameroon.
The World Cup wasn’t particularly great for the Springboks. They got destroyed by a plucky Japanese game in a match that they were expected to win. There were probably a number of irate fans that expected to leave at half-time with the match wrapped up and instead spent 80 minutes biting their nails. However, one of the highlights of the competition was the try-scoring display of superstar Bryan Habana. In the match against USA he scored three tries, matching the record of the late Jonah Lomu with 15.
There are certain records in athletics that people assume can’t be topped. Athletes become legends and tall tales spread around changing rooms about stars jumping over buildings in single bounds or were running faster than speeding bullets. One of those records that seemed untouchable was the women’s 5000 metres and for over 20 years, runners couldn’t come close to Qu Yunxia’s 3.50.46 in 1993. Genzebe Dibaba from the Dibaba clan of runners destroyed the record (3.50.07) in the Diamond League in Monaco.
She followed that up with a gold medal in the Beijing World Championships. And was duly presented with the IAAF’s athlete of the year award.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has become one of the stars of European football. His ridiculous goalscoring display is matched by a striking personality. He has the record for scoring in eight consecutive matches in the Bundesliga and is first in the European Golden Boot table. If he retains the top position in the table he would be the first African to win.
The guy puts a lot of effort into everything he does… especially celebrations.