It’s that time of year when it is seemingly incumbent on us all to draw up lots of lists of our favourite things and reviews of the last 12 months – and so this is KUDOS’s look back on the year in British sport.
It’s been a mixed bag for British sport. With Rio 2016 somehow just around the corner, much of 2015 has been a year of jostling for position, for qualification – and the story of the year, as ever in sport, is littered with highs, lows and drama that no amount of fiction can ever really rival.
Medals galore for Archery GB
It’s been a great year for British archers, with Archery GB coming away from the European Field Championships with a 12 medal haul.
Duncan Busby took the European men’s compound title, while Bryony Pitman fired European gold in the junior recurve section. Naomi Folkard, Alan Wills, Patrick Huston, Conor Hall, Rebecca Lennon, Sophie Benton, Craig McCreery, Jamie Cole, Daisy Clark and Jessica Nilsson all medalled at the Euros to crown a memorable weekend in Poland.
Ashes glory against the odds
After a 5-0 drubbing in the 2013-14 Ashes, not many England fans were too optimistic about the 2015 renewal but Alastair Cook’s men defied the odds to win a strange series 3-1. Under the guidance of Andrew Strauss and Trevor Bayliss, English cricket appears to be moving in the right direction at last. They’ve even decided to leave behind the old method of blocking and digging in in ODIs and T20, which can only be a good thing both for the team and the fans. If we’re going to lose we might as well do it in style! A potentially hazardous looking tour of South Africa is about to kick off in earnest, but whatever the outcome English cricket is in a better place now than it was 12 months ago.
Netball continues to increase its profile
In netball’s Superleague, Manchester Thunder found themselves in the curious position of winning 14 games out of 14 only to not win the title. After a 14 game league season the top 4 teams qualified for the four play-off places, and Manchester Thunder – P14 W14 D0 L0 – suffered a major shock in losing their semi-final to Hertfordshire Mavericks. The Mavericks went on to lose the final to Surrey Storm who claimed their first Superleague title. The 2016 Superleague looks set to be bigger and better than ever.
England – under the tutelage of new coach Tracy Neville – won bronze at the Netball World Cup in August. Wales claimed their best finish since 1991 in finishing 7th, with Scotland in 12th place.
Netball is enjoying a huge surge in popularity and exposure, and is well-placed to continue in the same vein throughout 2016.
Major disappointment in rugby
Hosted officially in England, but with some games in Wales, the 2015 Rugby World Cup ultimately proved disappointing for all home nations. Wales’ thrilling win over England at Twickenham will live long in the memory, but both nations came prematurely to grief at the hands of South Africa and Australia respectively. The Aussies also knocked out Scotland, in a tournament dominated by the Southern Hemisphere sides. Stuart Lancaster lost his job and, naturally, England duly appointed an Aussie.
England fared better in rugby league, with a tremendous 2-1 series win over New Zealand – the world’s top ranked team – the highlight of the season.
And the rest…!
In swimming Adam Peaty had such a good year he was rewarded with another nomination for BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Adam broke the 100m world record and became the first man ever to go under 58 seconds.
In hockey, Great Britain’s men suffered a disappointing 2-1 defeat to India in the quarter-finals of the World League Finals. GB had gone into the match as the favourites having topped their group – while India had come bottom of theirs.
In August Jessica Ennis-Hill made a fairytale comeback just 13 months after giving birth to her first child. She landed gold in the heptathlon at the World Championships in Beijing – her first major championships since the London Olympics three years ago. Fellow London 2012 hero Mo Farah did the World 5000m and 10,000m double – a particularly sweet triumph after a difficult year off the track. All eyes will be on the pair of them in Rio next summer.
England’s footballers captured the hearts of the nation and achieved their best ever finish – 3rd place – at the Women’s World Cup in Canada. Meanwhile in the men’s game, Roy Hodgson’s boys played a whole host of games against teams made up of plumbers, painters and decorators from places like San Marino and Lithuania, and they won them all. Exciting stuff.
British sport is teeming with champions
In November, Tyson Fury became heavyweight champion of the world. He won a unanimous points decision against a seemingly unbeatable but resolutely and almost heroically dull Wladimir Klitschko, while Lewis Hamilton is once again world champion in Formula 1.
Arguably the sporting achievement of the year came in early December when Britain’s Davis Cup team – otherwise known as Andy Murray – powered to victory against Belgium to win the Davis Cup for the first time in 79 years. Murray is becoming highly adept at slaying these long-held unwanted records and he is an inspiration – a true hero of British sport. Murray ended the year ranked number two in the world and, at a time when his three main rivals are arguably the three greatest players in the history of tennis, that is a quite incredible feat. Well done Andy.
Grassroots and elite sport are inextricably linked
The world of sport is a broad church, but most of the facets that run through it, from top to bottom, are linked. Elite level sport and grassroots sport are not disparate factions – the reverberations of sporting success filter down from the top to grassroots, which is why British sporting success is so important.
Equally important to the future of sport in this country is the funding for grassroots sport, and KUDOS is proud to have played a very small part in the #GetYourKitOn campaign. The social media campaign was launched after leaked Government plans revealed they intended to slash the funding for grassroots sport by anywhere between 25% – 40%. Campaigns like Get Your Kit On certainly have an effect – in the space of three short weeks the #GetYourKitOn hashtag was delivered more than 17m times from almost 8m accounts.
And by the time the Spending Review was announced the Government had duly backtracked, promising an increase in funding. Whether this materialises quite as it is being presented is another matter, but for the moment anyone connected to British sport should be breathing a sigh of relief. Everyone at KUDOS believes passionately that sport plays a fundamental role in the health and well-being of society and the communities within it.
With the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games the centrepiece, and Euro 2016 in football to whet the appetite beforehand, 2016 is another huge year for British sport. And here at KUDOS we’ll be all over it. Bring it on!
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