Review of the year: Best of the rest
Sunday 28 December 2008
It was a year when David Haye made a real name for himself in the heavyweight division – and his best may be to come against Vitali Klitschko next summer. We must not forget Joe Calzaghe's victories over Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jnr, even if both are past their best. But the most surprising image was of Amir Khan being floored by Breidis Prescott. James DeGale grabbed gold for GB in Beijing while the overseas fight of the year was Manny Pacquiao's hammering of Oscar De La Hoya. Pacquiao, or Floyd Mayweather Jnr, could now end up fighting Ricky Hatton.
America regained the Ryder Cup but the least said about that the better. The man of the year – despite Tiger Woods winning the US Open on one leg – was Padraig Harrington, who claimed The Open and USPGA, the third career major for 'Paddy Power'.
The female of the thoroughbred species can be more deadly than the male, as the brilliant unbeaten Zarkava showed at Longchamp in October. The three-year-old filly, ridden by Christophe Soumillon, put the best colts in Europe to the sword in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, becoming the first of her sex to take the Paris showpiece for 15 years and taking her record to seven from seven in the process. Her next girl-power venture will be motherhood; she has left trainer Alain de Royer-Dupré to be mated with her owner's previous Arc winner, Dalakhani.
Rafael Nadal proved his greatness with a pulsating win over Roger Federer in near-darkness at Wimbledon as the Swiss master's star began to fade. Andy Murray had a superb year, rising to No 4 in the world and reaching the US Open final. The future of British tennis looks in safe hands with the emergence of Laura Robson, who won the Wimbledon girls' title at 14.
Jamie Peacock looks suitably dejected as England crash out of the rugby league World Cup. Tony Smith's men were a major disappointment, winning just one game, and it needed a brilliant display from New Zealand – who stunned the Aussies on home turf in the final – to lift a tournament that struggled to catch fire. Domestically, Kevin Sinfield kicked St Helens to death as the Leeds Rhinos retained their Super League crown – the Saints did at least pick up their third Challenge Cup in a row, seeing off the spirited challenge of Hull.
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