Dec 17 (Reuters) - 1. Lance Armstrong comes clean over doping - January 17 “Yes.” With one word, Lance Armstrong finally confessed to a cycling career built on performing-enhancing drugs, putting himself on a par with Canadian athlete Ben Johnson as the world’s most notorious drugs cheat. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January, Armstrong ended his years of denials about systematic doping and said it would have been impossible to win one of his seven Tour de France titles without the drugs. “I am flawed,” the American said. “Deeply flawed.” 2. Oscar Pistorius accused of murder - February 14 Stunned disbelief greeted the news that Oscar Pistorius, who triumphed over disability to compete with able-bodied athletes at the Olympics, had shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day. South Africa’s “Blade Runner”, a double amputee who uses carbon-fibre prosthetic blades to compete, will be tried for murder next year. Pistorius told a Pretoria bail hearing: “I am absolutely mortified by the events and the devastating loss of my beloved Reeva.”
3. Andy Murray wins Wimbledon - July 7 Andy Murray ended Britain’s 77-year wait for a Wimbledon men’s champion by vanquishing Novak Djokovic in an electric final at the All England Club in July. Willed on by thousands of Union Jack-waving fans on Centre Court and millions across Britain, the Scot won tennis’s most prestigious title in straight sets. Murray told Reuters: “I know what it feels like to lose in finals, in a Wimbledon final, but now I know what it feels like to win and that’s certainly a lot better.”
4. Oracle comeback secures America’s Cup - September 25 Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team USA capped an incredible comeback to retain the America’s Cup in San Francisco after a winner-takes-all showdown with Emirates Team New Zealand. Hit with a pre-match penalty that required Oracle to win 11 races on the water, the American boat appeared to be down and out at 8-1 behind. But helped by speed improvements and installing Britain’s multi Olympic champion Ben Ainslie as team tactician, Oracle reeled off race after race to win sailing’s biggest trophy.
5. Alex Ferguson announces retirement - May 8 The news was not entirely unexpected but it still stunned British soccer. Alex Ferguson, the country’s longest-serving and most decorated soccer manager, announced he was retiring after more than 26 years and 1,500 matches at the helm of Manchester United. The 71-year-old Scot’s era at Old Trafford brought the northern English club 13 league titles, two European Cups, five FA Cups and four League Cups.
6. Mariano Riveira retires - September 26 Baseball’s greatest closer was reduced to tears on the mound as he brought the curtain down on a stellar 19 years in Major League Baseball. The New York crowd rose to their feet, chanting Rivera’s nickname “Mo”. “It definitely was a magic moment,” said Rivera, who rose from poverty in Panama to be one of the most revered players in America’s favourite pastime. He recorded 652 saves and served as the Yankees’ closer for 17 seasons.
7. Yelena Isinbayeva thrills home crowd at worlds - August 13 Russian Yelena Isinbayeva pulled off a winning leap when it mattered most to claim her third world title in front of a partisan home crowd in Moscow. The double Olympic champion was the only vaulter to jump 4.89 metres. “I‘m the pole vault queen, the crowd is mine,” said the 31-year-old who then sparked controversy with comments on Russia’s anti-gay laws. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt won three titles at the championships.
8. Gareth Bale joins Real Madrid - September 1 Ending months of speculation, Tottenham Hotspur forward Gareth Bale finally put pen to paper and joined Real Madrid for a world-record transfer fee of 100 million euros ($132 million). The fee eclipsed the previous record of 94 million euros that Real paid for Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United in 2009. The Welshman said Spurs would “always be in my heart” before jetting off to Madrid to take his place among the Galacticos. 9. Red Sox win World Series for wounded Boston - October 30 Boston closer Koji Uehara struck out Matt Carpenter for the final out as the Red Sox clinched their first World Series at Fenway Park since the 1918 championship. The win came six months after the city was shocked by the deadly marathon bombings, and the Red Sox had emerged as a beacon of hope for Boston. Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, who won the Most Valuable Player award, said of Boston: “We stick together. It’s a family, and we fight against the world.” 10. Sachin Tendulkar’s last test - November 16 Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar struggled to hold back the tears after calling time on a 24-year cricket career in Mumbai, his birthplace. The “Little Master” finished his career as the sport’s most prolific international run-scorer but was unable to sign off with a century against West Indies in his 200th and final test. “My life’s been 22 yards for 24 years,” said Tendulkar who scored 15,921 test and 18,426 ODI runs.
Wrestling dropped from Olympics - February 12 Wrestling fans were shocked when the IOC announced it was dropping the sport from the Olympic programme because of its failure to modernise after decades of waning interest. Wrestling responded by overhauling its rules, administration and gender equality policy and was reinstated for the 2020 Games. The sport featured in the ancient Olympics as well as every modern Games, apart from 1900.
Sabine Lisicki’s meltdown in Wimbledon final - July 6 Sabine Lisicki despatched defending champion Serena Williams and last year’s runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska on her way to the Wimbledon final but found nerves a tougher opponent than Marion Bartoli. The German succumbed to the pressure and sobbed her way through a 6-1 6-4 defeat. Former men’s champion John McEnroe said: “There would have been no place Lisicki would rather have been an hour ago. Now it’s the last place she wants to be.”
Sebastian Vettel ignores team orders - March 24 Sebastian Vettel cruised to a fourth successive Formula One title but his road to the championship hit a speed bump in Malaysia when he chose to defy his team’s orders and overtake Red Bull team mate Mark Webber. Vettel was told to stay behind Webber, with both asked to save their tyres and fuel to ensure a one-two finish. Vettel said: “I am the black sheep right now ... all I can say is apologies to Mark.” The relationship between the two deteriorated beyond repair. (Editing by Robert Woodward)