The 2002 sporting year was dominated by the FIFA
World Cup in Japan and Korea. This was a tournament full of surprises in
the early stages, particularly the disappointing performances of holders France
and traditional heavyweights Italy and Argentina.
Although co-hosts Korea, a
rejuvenated USA and Turkey were welcome quarter-finalists, normal
order was resumed for the final with Brazil winning out over a solid if
unimaginative Germany. This was truly a renaissance for Ronaldo,
who put the torments of France 98 behind him.
Ronaldo finished 2002 as a Real Madrid
player and teammate of Zinedine Zidane. Injury to Zidane was a key factor
in France's poor World Cup, but he provided the defining moment of European club
football in 2002 with a glorious volley that proved to be the winning goal in
the Champions League Final against Bayer Leverkusen at Glasgow's
Hampden Park in May.
Tiger Woods continued to dominate
golf, although the latter half of his season was as much a battle against injury
as against other golfers. The turning point of the season was the Open at
Muirfield, where four days' golf saw four seasons' weather, and a tense
play-off victory for South Africa's Ernie Els. The Ryder Cup
finally came to pass, and the European team surprised many by holding their own
in the final day singles to win the cup.
"The sisters" continued their
dominance of women's tennis, with Serena Williams now having very much
the upper hand. The younger sister played three Grand Slam events and won them
all. In the men's game, Lleyton Hewitt consolidated his position as World
Number 1, and while Pete Sampras struggled to maintain his place in the
game, Andre Agassi remains a strong, and entertaining, threat to Hewitt.
At the danger of repeating ourselves, we must note that Anna Kournikova
failed to win (and failed to look like winning) a WTA Tour singles event.
In Baseball, The New York Yankees failed
to even reach the World Series, with a west coast final seeing the Anaheim
Angels beat Barry Bonds' San Francisco Giants. Los Angeles remains
the centre of the basketball world, with Kobe and Shaq helping
Phil Jackson's Lakers to a "three-peat" NBA crown. Looking
outwards from America, Lance Armstrong maintained his amazing fitness to
win the Tour de France yet again, his fourth win in a row.
Australia saw a visiting England
cricket team lose The Ashes so convincingly that many critics called for
the shortening of series against the "Poms" from five matches to
three. The Australians will head to the Cricket World Cup in South Africa
as holders and favourites. 2003 will also see a Rugby Union World Cup in
Australia and New Zealand. England will be more feared in this event,
having run up an Autumn 2002 hat-trick of victories against both hosts and South
Africa's Springboks, albeit at Twickenham.