Sportsman of the Year
Ashton Eaton – USA – Athletics
2015 was the year the greatest athlete in the world just got a little bit greater.
For someone who grew up on the exploits of Daley Thompson, Ashton Eaton is the equivalent of the second coming in terms of athletic excellence but maybe without the rough and occasional offensive edges to the Thompson character that we seemed to ignore at the time.
The only thing missing from Eaton’s CV in 2015 was the sight of him in a blue vest with a stylized “S” on the front and a red cape flying onto the pole vault mat.
Maybe 2016 will fix that omission.
Sportswoman of the Year
Simone Biles – USA – Gymnastics
In March 2013 Simone Biles made her international debut at the American Cup in Worcester, USA.
By the end of 2015 she was a ten-time world champion and has an outside chance of sweeping all six gold medals at the Rio Olympics. It would certainly be no surprise to see her match her achievements of the 2015 World Championships and win four titles.
Team of the Year
The Mercedes F1 team
I freely admit this is the most boring of my choices and that the awards really deserves to go to the designers, aerodynamicists and strategists more than Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. However the 2015 season saw Mercedes dominate to an extent that they ruined the sport as a spectacle. In the long run this will do damage to F1 but that’s hardly their fault – any sportsperson or team has to strive to be as good as they possibly can be. Whether the sport can prosper has to depend on strong leadership from the rules makers.
Moment of the Year
Japan beats South Africa in the Rugby World Cup
Japan had qualified for every World Cup since the inauguration of the event in 1987 but had only scored a single victory against fellow fall guys Zimbabwe in 24 years and 7 tournaments. Their performances against the world’s top nations had veered between poor and humiliation with the nadir coming with a 145-17 disaster against New Zealand in 1995.
This time it would be different.
With a mix of high risk/high reward attack, obdurate defence and accurate kicking Japan kept the score level until five minutes from time. South Africa kicked a penalty to go 32-29 ahead but Japan mounted one final heroic attack. With the clock on zero South Africa were penalized in front of the posts and well, you can see what happened next in the embedded video.
In the words of Daley Thompson, yes that Daley Thompson.
Whenever the little guy beats Goliath, it so enriches our lives and let’s us all believe that the impossible is possible. Thank you Japan
Anti-Sportsman of the Year
Viktor Chegin – Athletics
Once upon a time in a land far away that people called Mordovia, a mysterious ogre built a castle and stacked it full of wondrous machines and magic potions. Very soon all the villagers from miles around benefited from the kindness of the ogre and walked with a spring in their step and they become known as kings of the world. As time passed the rest of the kingdoms became suspicious of the Mordovians and sent the wise Prince Dick of Wada down from the great frozen north to investigate. The ogre denied he had done anything wrong but Prince Dick found large quantities of dragon’s blood, ground griffin’s claw and essence of powdered orc (or EPO for short) in the castle’s strongrooms. In the magical kingdom of Iaaf the young emperor said “we really should do something about this” and placed a curse on Mordovia so that no one could leave the kingdom for at least six months. Enraged by this the Mordovians burnt the castle to the ground but not before they implicated the former Grand Vizier of Iaaf and his court magician in a massive bribery scandal. Chegin the ogre was never seen again (probably).
For a less tongue-in-cheek explanation click Here
Sports Commentary of the Year
Jim Maxwell – Australia – Cricket
Australia 33-7 within an hour of the start of the 4th Test.
“If you’re an Australian and you’ve just switched on, switch off and go and do some gardening instead”.
Don’t Believe the Hype Award
Mixed Martial Arts
The most hyped men’s fight of 2015 ended in bizarre fashion when one of the world’s most feared fighters, Jose Aldo of Brazil, made a mistake which even the novice of boxers would be embarrassed by and literally led with his chin against Conor McGregor of Ireland. It was a fight that should be remembered for the sheer incompetence of the Brazilian rather than any great Irish heroics. The fact that the sport is so well marketed shouldn’t eclipse the fact that most of the fighting is tedious and uninspired.
The Be Careful What You Wish For Award
The year ends with Sebastian Coe under mounting pressure as head of the IAAF. Whilst accepting the possibility that the legal issues surrounding the organization in France might make him weary of talking too much about the case it’s clear that his links to Nike and a few unhelpfully vague statements have weakened his position. But let’s not be certain that the removal of Coe will help the sport of athletics move on from recent controversies. Unless he’s actually tied directly to the mismanagement and/or criminal activity connected to the investigation on Russia, a weakened Coe forced to make amends for the sins of his predecessor might well be the most effective figurehead for the sport.
If you look at the results of the last IAAF election you’ll note that any possible replacements come with a more conservative, “Let’s keep things in-house”, attitude that seems not to be realistic anymore and are more friendly to the workings of certain federations and governments. Better the devil you know this time?