2015: Biggest moments in sports

2015: Biggest moments in sports

By: || Updated: 24 Dec 2015 03:33 AM
LONDON: From Serena Williams' near Grand Slam in tennis to Japan's shock defeat of South Africa in the Rugby World Cup and Barcelona's dominance on the football pitch, there was much to admire in international sports this year.


But much of it was spent dwelling on scandal — from widespread allegations of bribery and corruption at FIFA to systemic doping covered up in athletics.

Football officialdom endured a shameful year.

Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president since 1998, and Michel Platini, European football's top official, were banned from all football-related activity for eight years for a FIFA payment of about $2 million to Platini in 2011. The payment was judged by FIFA's ethics commission to be a conflict of interest and disloyal to the world body. Both deny wrongdoing and will appeal the decision.

And in athletics, Russia's federation was suspended after it was accused of operating a state-sponsored doping program. The suspension could keep Russia out of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Athletics had its more inspiring moments, Usain Bolt in many of them. A lunge to the line saw him see off Justin Gatlin in the 100 meters at the world championships in Beijing — scene of perhaps his greatest achievements in the 2008 Olympics.

Golf got its own new superstar this year, too. Jordan Spieth won the first two majors, and just fell short in the other two.

It was also a big year for Australia and New Zealand. The neighbors contested the finals of both the cricket and rugby World Cups. Australia won the former to claim its fifth Cricket World Cup while New Zealand got revenge when it became the first team to successfully defend the Rugby World Cup.

Attached are some notable moments in sports this year:

 

FILE - In this Sunday, March 29, 2015 file photo, Australia captain Michael Clarke holds the Cricket World Cup Trophy aloft after his team defeated co-host New Zealand in the final in Melbourne, Australia. Clarke scored 74 vital runs to help Australia win the trophy for the fifth time, three more than any other team. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill, File) March 29, 2015: Australia captain Michael Clarke holds the Cricket World Cup Trophy aloft after his team defeated co-host New Zealand in the final in Melbourne, Australia. Clarke scored 74 vital runs to help Australia win the trophy for the fifth time, three more than any other team. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill, File Photo)

 

FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015 file photo, Japan's Kensuke Hatakeyama celebrates after his team's stunning victory over South Africa in a pool match in the Rugby World Cup in Brighton, England. Japan's 34-32 victory over the two-time world champion is arguably the biggest shock in rugby history. Despite the victory, Japan failed to qualify for the quarterfinals. South Africa narrowly lost in a semifinal against eventual champion New Zealand. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland, File) September 19, 2015: Japan's Kensuke Hatakeyama celebrates after his team's stunning victory over South Africa in a pool match in the Rugby World Cup in Brighton, England. Japan's 34-32 victory over the two-time world champion is arguably the biggest shock in rugby history. Despite the victory, Japan failed to qualify for the quarterfinals. South Africa narrowly lost in a semifinal against eventual champion New Zealand. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland, File Photo)

 

FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015 file photo, Prince Of Penzance jockey Michelle Payne celebrates after winning the Melbourne Cup. Payne's victory on the 100-1 outsider made her the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, Australia's richest horse race. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill, File) November 3, 2015: Prince Of Penzance jockey Michelle Payne celebrates after winning the Melbourne Cup. Payne's victory on the 100-1 outsider made her the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, Australia's richest horse race. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill, File Photo)

 

FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015 file photo, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates after winning the Formula One world championship with his victory at the U.S. Grand Prix race at the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin, Texas. The British driver, flanked by teammate, Germany's Nico Rosberg, left, and Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, right, is now a three-time world champion. He joins an illustrious list on that mark, including his hero, Ayrton Senna. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File) October 25, 2015: Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates after winning the Formula One world championship with his victory at the U.S. Grand Prix race at the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin, Texas. The British driver, flanked by teammate, Germany's Nico Rosberg, left, and Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, right, is now a three-time world champion. He joins an illustrious list on that mark, including his hero, Ayrton Senna. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File Photo)

 

FILE - In this Wednesday, July 15, 2015 file photo, United States’ Jordan Spieth plays from the rough on the 16th hole at the British Open at Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland. Spieth arrived at the Scottish links attempting to become only the second man after Ben Hogan in 1953 to win the first three of the year's four majors. Spieth ended one shot behind the three men who contested the play-off, which was eventually won by Zach Johnson of the United States. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File) July 15, 2015: United States’ Jordan Spieth plays from the rough on the 16th hole at the British Open at Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland. Spieth arrived at the Scottish links attempting to become only the second man after Ben Hogan in 1953 to win the first three of the year's four majors. Spieth ended one shot behind the three men who contested the play-off, which was eventually won by Zach Johnson of the United States. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File Photo)

 

FILE - In this Saturday, June 6, 2015 file photo, Serena Williams, holds the French Open tennis trophy after beating Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in three sets. Williams won the year's first three majors, and came within two match wins of completing the calendar year Grand Slam at the U.S. Open. The last to achieve the feat was Germany's Steffi Graf in 1988. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File) June 6, 2015: Serena Williams, holds the French Open tennis trophy after beating Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in three sets. Williams won the year's first three majors, and came within two match wins of completing the calendar year Grand Slam at the US Open. The last to achieve the feat was Germany's Steffi Graf in 1988. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File Photo)

 

FILE - In this Friday July 10, 2015 file photo, Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action against France's Richard Gasquet at Wimbledon. Djokovic ended the year head and shoulders above everyone else in the men's game, having won three of the year's Grand Slam titles. In the other, he surprisingly lost in the French Open final to Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File) July 10, 2015: Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action against France's Richard Gasquet at Wimbledon. Djokovic ended the year head and shoulders above everyone else in the men's game, having won three of the year's Grand Slam titles. In the other, he surprisingly lost in the French Open final to Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File Photo)

 

FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 file photo, Russia's national drug-testing laboratory in Moscow, is photographed. Russia has been suspended from track and field after the World Anti-Doping Agency found systemic abuses. The investigation has dominated the opening months of Sebastian Coe's presidency of the International Association of Athletics Federations. Russia's track and field athletes could miss the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next August. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File) November 13, 2015: Russia's national drug-testing laboratory in Moscow, is photographed. Russia has been suspended from track and field after the World Anti-Doping Agency found systemic abuses. The investigation has dominated the opening months of Sebastian Coe's presidency of the International Association of Athletics Federations. Russia's track and field athletes could miss the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next August. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File Photo)

 

FILE - In this Friday, Aug. 28, 2015 file photo, Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, lane 6, dips to cross the finish line and win the women’s 200m final at the World Athletics Championships at the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing. Schippers' winning time of 21.63 seconds made her the third-fastest woman ever at the distance. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File) August 28, 2015: Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, lane 6, dips to cross the finish line and win the women’s 200m final at the World Athletics Championships at the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing. Schippers' winning time of 21.63 seconds made her the third-fastest woman ever at the distance. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File Photo)

 

FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015 file photo, Jamaica's Usain Bolt, right, wins the gold medal in the men's 100m ahead of United States' Justin Gatlin, left, at the World Athletics Championships at the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing. Bolt, who had been trailing for almost the entire race, beat Gatlin with a lunge at the line. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File) August 23, 2015: Jamaica's Usain Bolt, right, wins the gold medal in the men's 100m ahead of United States' Justin Gatlin, left, at the World Athletics Championships at the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing. Bolt, who had been trailing for almost the entire race, beat Gatlin with a lunge at the line. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File Photo)

 

FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, file photo supporters carrying England and French national flags arrive for the friendly soccer match between England and France at Wembley Stadium in London. The match took place four days after the attacks in Paris which killed 130 people. France's national stadium, the Stade de France, had been targeted during the attacks as France was playing Germany. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File) November 17, 2015: Supporters carrying England and French national flags arrive for the friendly soccer match between England and France at Wembley Stadium in London. The match took place four days after the attacks in Paris which killed 130 people. France's national stadium, the Stade de France, had been targeted during the attacks as France was playing Germany. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

 

FILE - In this Saturday, June 6, 2015 file photo, Barcelona's Lionel Messi kisses the Champions League trophy after his team defeated Juventus 3-1 in the final at the Olympic stadium in Berlin. Barcelona's victory was its fifth and meant it became the first European team to complete the treble on two occasions. Before the final, Barcelona had secured Spain's two main domestic competitions. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File) June 6, 2015: Barcelona's Lionel Messi kisses the Champions League trophy after his team defeated Juventus 3-1 in the final at the Olympic stadium in Berlin. Barcelona's victory was its fifth and meant it became the first European team to complete the treble on two occasions. Before the final, Barcelona had secured Spain's two main domestic competitions. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File Photo)

 

FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 21, 2015 file photo, FIFA President Sepp Blatter arrives for a news conference in Zurich, Switzerland after he was banned for 8 years from all football-related activities over a $2 million payment by FIFA to Michel Platini, the president of European soccer's ruling body UEFA. Platini, who was Blatter's heir-apparent, also received an 8-year ban. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, File) December 21, 2015: FIFA President Sepp Blatter arrives for a news conference in Zurich, Switzerland after he was banned for 8 years from all football-related activities over a $2 million payment by FIFA to Michel Platini, the president of European soccer's ruling body UEFA. Platini, who was Blatter's heir-apparent, also received an 8-year ban. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, File Photo)

 

FC Barcelona team members, FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, left, FC Barcelona’s Neymar, center, and FC Barcelona’s Luis Suarez of Uruguay admire their trophy as they celebrate winning the final match against River Plate at the FIFA Club World Cup soccer tournament in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015. FC Barcelona beat River Plate 3-0. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) December 20, 2015: FC Barcelona team members, FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, left, FC Barcelona’s Neymar, center, and FC Barcelona’s Luis Suarez of Uruguay admire their trophy as they celebrate winning the final match against River Plate at the FIFA Club World Cup soccer tournament in Yokohama, near Tokyo. FC Barcelona beat River Plate 3-0. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

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