Sports History Chronicle Awards 2012 – Best British Team

Sorry for the lack of posts recently but I have been trawling through the net trying to decide on my choices for the inaugural Sports History Chronicle Awards.  These are the first awards that I have actually published in a blog but I have been working on awards similar to this purely for my own amusement for many years. If I get the time I will write up some of these.

There are seven awards that I make. These are for world sportsman, sportswoman and team of the year, and in the same categories for the United Kingdom. The final award is for the sporting event or moment that I thought was the outstanding one of the year.

These awards are made not on who was the biggest personality but who I thought was the best. Obviously it is very difficult to compare achievements across the world of sport so I try to put things into historical context by choosing people or teams who have done something better than anyone else has ever done.  As far as possible this will just be for the one year in question. This is fine for sports where world records can be broken or there are many competitions to establish long unbeaten runs. It is less good for sports such as professional boxing where boxers may only compete once or twice a year. In such cases I have to take a look back at achievements over more than one year to give them a chance of winning my award.

If this seems a little vague I will give my reasons for nominations and you should be able to see what I mean.

Anyway, on with the awards.

My first award is for the UK team of the year.  There are many definitions of a team and especially this year a team can be broken down in many ways.  For example do I choose a cycling pursuit team, the entire GB Olympic cycling squad or the entire GB Olympic team over al sports.

These are some of the outstanding UK teams of the year.  I have the greatest respect for all of them. The nitpicking comments I make about the teams are only so that I can try to choose the best of the best.

The GB men’s gymnastics team won the European championship for the first time ever and at the Olympics won the bronze medal.

Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester and Laura Bechtolsheimer, equestrianism, team
dressage: Won the gold medal in fairly convincing style to add to last year’s European title. Clearly the best team in the world at the event. The only problem for me is that there aren’t many team competitions each year to demonstrate superiority on a regular basis.

• Ben Maher, Nick Skelton, Peter Charles and Scott Brash, equestrianism, team
showjumping: GB triumph at the Olympics after a jump-off with Netherlands. Only just won the gold and in other Nations Cup events weren’t too successful.

• Jo Rowsell, Laura Trott and Dani King, cycling, team pursuit: Won Olympic and world championship gold easily and broke the world record in each race. The only question in my mind is the strength in depth of the opposition.

• Philip Hindes, Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny, cycling, team sprint: Team win Olympic gold but were disqualified in the world championships.

• Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, Geraint Thomas and Peter Kennaugh, cycling, team
pursuit: British quartet smash their own world record at world champs and Olympics but with a very narrow victory.

The GB cycling team had an outstanding Olympics to be top of the medals table. At the world championships earlier in the year they had mixed fortunes and finished just behind hosts Australia in the medals table.

• Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins, rowing, double sculls: Won all three World Cup races and the Olympic gold easily. Unbeaten in three years together in eleven races. Won the World Rowing award for the outstanding women’s crew in any event.

• Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, rowing, pair: Glover and Stanning won TeamGB’s first gold of the Olympics. Were unbeaten all season in three World Cups and the Games. Easily the best in their event.

• Andy Triggs Hodge, Pete Reed, Tom James and Alex Gregory, rowing, men’s four:
Gold for fourth Games in a row for the coxless four. Set a world best time in helpful conditions at Lucerne but lost one of the three World Cup races.

• Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking, rowing, lightweight double sculls:
Slightly surprising winners after losing a race in and finishing joint second overall in the World Cup.

The GB rowing team won the World Cup overall and were top of the medals table at the Olympics.  The sport is only competitive to a certain degree with little competition from developing nations.

• Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott, canoeing, double: Olympic gold in slalom but didn’t win in the world cup and are only ranked 7th.

The GB women won the Modern Pentathlon team world title.

The GB team won the world Triathlon mixed relay title. It wasn’t their strongest team but they still triumphed narrowly.

Horse Racing:  Frankel – this racehorse won all five of his races to complete his career unbeaten in 14 races. The respected form guide Timeform provisionally gave the horse the highest rating in the 64 year history of the publication and he must be regarded as one of the greatest horses ever.

Athletics – The women’s 4x400m team shocked the USA and Russia to win gold at the world indoors but couldn’t repeat that against the top runners at the Olympics.

Bowls- World Indoor Championships:Men’s Pairs – Paul Foster and Alex Marshall retained their title. They went on to win the outdoor world pairs title remaining unbeaten throughout the tournament.

David Gourlay and Debbie Stavrou won their third and first mixed pairs
titles respectively at the World Indoor Championships.

Bowls (Outdoor) –   Graeme Archer, Darren Burnett, David Peacock (SCO) won the world triples title.

Margaret Letham, Caroline Brown, Lynn Stein, Michelle Cooper (SCO) won the world fours title.  They won every match they played in the tournament except for one draw.

Paralympics gold medallists in team events were :-

Pam Relph,Naomi Riches,David Smith,James Roe,Lily van den Broecke (cox)  – Rowing Mixed coxed four

Sophie Christiansen,Deborah Criddle,Lee Pearson,Sophie Wells –  Equestrian Team championship

Neil Fachie and Barney Storey (pilot) Cycling Men’s 1 km time trial B

Anthony Kappes and Craig MacLean (pilot) Cycling Men’s individual sprint B

 

Hockey: women’s Champions Trophy. GB reached the final of this tournament
involving the best teams in the world for the first time ever, losing to the hosts
Argentina. Won the bronze at the Olympics.

Football – Chelsea won the Champions League and the FA Cup but only finished 6th in the Premier League.

Rugby League Leeds Rhinos won the World Club Challenge for the third time,
beating Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. Won the grand Final but in the league were only 5th.

Rugby Union – Wales won the Six Nations Championship and achieved the Grand slam
for the third time in eight years but had a poor end to the year in the autumn internationals.

The England women won their Six Nations title with a third successive Grand Slam and showed that they are the best in the world when beating New Zealand three times at home in the autumn.Very strong candidates but I would like to see them do it in a World Cup before giving them my award.

And finally, the GB Olympic team finished with 29 golds for 3rd in the medals table with their highest total of medals since 1908 when competition was  much more limited. The Paralympic team finished with 34 golds for 3rd in their medals table. These teams together were the winners of the BBC Sports Personality Team of the Year.  That is an understandable decision and I won’t argue too much with it. However, to win my award you have to be the best team in the world and I have to give it elsewhere.

My top five teams from this list are:

Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins (rowing, double sculls)

England Women Rugby Union Team

Frankel with the team of  trainer Sir Henry Cecil and jockey Tom Queally

Paul Foster and Alex Marshall (Bowls)

Jo Rowsell, Laura Trott and Dani King (cycling, team pursuit)

And my choice for Sports History Chronicle Team of the Year is

Frankel with the team of  trainer Sir Henry Cecil and jockey Tom Queally

Any one of them would be worthy winners but on the sheer numbers alone I have to give it to Frankel. If you think of the thousands of racehorses there have been over the years, to be arguably the greatest horse in history is something truly special. I can’t include horses in the individual sportsman category but putting them in the Team section seems fair enough. It really is a team effort to produce such performances.

I am sure that other people will take a different view on the Team of the Year and I welcome your comments.

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