As with any sporting year, 2001 had
its fair share of surprises, shocks and disappointments. The Yankees failed
to retain the World Series crown for a traumatised New York, but Kobe
and Shaq helped the Lakers to a repeat NBA title for Phil
Jackson's latest dynasty. Tiger Woods shocked more people by not
winning a Major, than winning one (or two, or three...). At the more
physical extremes of sport, Lance Armstrong won the gruelling Tour de
France for the third successive year.
Australia, again, proved a source of
sporting excellence. The Wallabies came back after losing the first match
to win a thrilling Rugby Union series against the visiting British and
Irish Lions, while their cricketers dominated in England over the
summer retaining the Ashes once again. Lleyton Hewitt came of age
with a US Open victory and finished the year as World No. 1
following his Masters Cup triumph in Sydney. The year closed on a down,
down under, with defeat by France in tennis' Davis Cup as well as
elimination from the 2002 FIFA World Cup in the final qualifying match.
Other notable absentees from Japan
and Korea in 2002 are Holland, Colombia, Jamaica, Iran, Romania
Norway. Some of the traditional big names, such as Brazil, England and
Germany, had uneasy moments in qualifying, but will be among the 32
teams ready to kick off at the end of May.
Although the Williams sisters and
the second coming of Jennifer Capriati accounted for most of the
silverware in women's tennis, 2001 saw Belgium emerge as a power in the
game. Kim Clijsters and then Justine Henin reached Grand Slam
finals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, while in Madrid they were
assisted by Els Callens and Laurence Courtois to take the Fed Cup
World Final. And...yet again, Anna
Kournikova failed to win a singles WTA Tour event - the only cups with her
name on are moulded by Berlei.
In the world of boxing, Lennox Lewis lost the plot - and
his belts - to Hasim Rahman, but stripped fitter in November to regain
the Heavyweight title. Lewis now awaits a much-talked-about showdown with
Mike Tyson in 2002.