If 2020 was a year of unprecedented stoppage in the world, and in sports too, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 was another year of enormous challenges for the sports' universe of sports, from professional to amateur, with an Olympic Games' edition that took place without public, as it happened as well with a good part of the professional leagues of the most impactful sports. Depending on the area of the globe, there were confinements, reopenings, and many rules to be followed. As always, the sports world gave a lesson in resilience, bringing inestimable joy to the fans. 2021 ended up bringing a handful of victories to celebrate. Everyone hopes that 2022 will bring the definitive resumption of sports.
Today we remember some 2021 sporting moments:
Matsuyama makes Golf Masters history
For some time, the dreaded moniker of "Best Player Never to Win a Major" followed Hideki Matsuyama around. Before the 2021 season, Matsuyama finished inside the top 10 at major tournaments seven times. Finally, his time would come at Augusta National. On April 11, Matsuyama finished at 10-under par, one shot better than upstart Will Zalatoris. He became the first Japanese golfer and Asian-born competitor to win the Masters.
Simone Biles and mental health in sport
In the article shared by CNN Sports, gymnast Simone Biles revealed her mental health struggles during the Tokyo Olympics, saying she is "still afraid to do gymnastics." In an emotional interview on NBC's "Today" show, Biles said she is still struggling with the "twisties" while performing on her Gold Over America Tour. "Twisties" is the mental block where gymnasts can lose track of where they are while in the air.
Biles, 24, who has won seven Olympic medals, including four golds, struggled with mental health issues and the unexpected loss of a family member during the Summer Games. The athlete bravely let the world know even a top athlete can have ups and downs, and that mental health is an important issue that deserves due attention.
Max Vestappen's F1 victory
Max Verstappen won his first Formula One World Championship after beating Lewis Hamilton in a controversial season finale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.
This season had been heralded as one of the greatest in the history of the sport and the title race ended with one of the "craziest" final laps possible. Hamilton had all but clinched his eighth world title until Williams Racing driver Nicholas Latifi crashed into the barriers with four laps remaining, resulting in the safety car being called out. The race restarted on the final lap, with Verstappen allowed to start almost side by side with Hamilton, even though the Briton had established a healthy lead.
Statistically, Lewis Hamilton is the greatest driver in F1 history and a formidable opponent for anyone, but Verstappen showed no signs of nervousness fighting such a driver.
Messi and the Golden Ball
Lionel Messi won the Ballon d'Or 2021 for the seventh time.
Messi, 34, withstood competition from Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich, Karim Benzema of Real Madrid, and Jorginho of Chelsea, to collect the award. Messi scored another win in his long battle with five-time Ballon d'Or receiver Cristiano Ronaldo, who was among the 30 shortlisted players but did not appear in the top three for the first time in 11 years.
Italy wins Euro 2020 (actually 2021)
Italy became European Champion after beating England on the penalty kicks. Italy succeeded Portugal, winning a European Championship 53 years after the previous title.
The most different European Championship ever, plagued by an "unfair format" (in the words of UEFA's president), ended at Wembley with an Italian victory. On one side, England was playing at home, eyeing an ideal opportunity to win the trophy for the first time: "It's coming home", the fans chanted in the stands. On the other side, there was the "Squadra Azzurra", who had lost the last two finals it played.
Happy New Year and a 2022 full of sporting success!
Describing all the important events in sports in 2021 is a difficult task. There were so many and so good! For an article of this size, the above were the ones we considered essential to remember. Tell us, which one did we miss that should be on the list?
We can only wish that 2022 brings more and better moments! Happy 2022!