My choice for the top sportsmen of the year for 2012. Here are the ones who didn’t quite make my top five nominations.
Usain Bolt (Jamaica-Athletics) became the first athlete to do the sprint double of 100m and 200m at two Olympics. Part of the world record breaking 4x100m relay team.
Ashton Eaton (USA-Athletics) won both his decathlons and set a new world record at the Olympic Trials.
Aries Merritt (USA- Athletics) broke the 110m hurdles world record by the biggest margin in decades and ran a series of very fast times under the 13 seconds barrier.
Michael Phelps (USA-Swimming) nominated more for his historic achievement of winning more Olympic golds than anyone in history (18). Started the Olympics slowly but eventually won 4 golds (2 in individual events).
Martin Fourcade (France – Biathlon) won the World Cup Overall, as well as the titles in the Sprint and the Pursuit World Cups. Won 3 golds at the world championships.
Adrian Peterson (USA -American Football) ran for 2097 yards in the NFL regular season, just nine yards short of the all-time record.
Miguel Cabrera (Venezuela-Baseball) The first man since 1967 to do the batting Triple Crown of most home runs, highest batting average and most Runs Batted In in Major League Baseball. Voted the league MVP.
Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain-Cycling) The first man to win the Tour de France and an Olympic gold medal in the same season.
Sebastien Loeb (France -Rallying) won the world title for the 9th successive year. won 9 of the 11 rallies he completed.
Servet Tazegul (Turkey- Taekwondo) -won all three tournaments he took part in including the Olympic Games and European championships. Also reigning world champion.
Kim Un Guk (North Korea – weightlifting) won the gold medal at the Olympic Games setting a world record total of 327 kg (721 lb) at the snatch, he tied the World Record
Lü Xiaojun (China-weightlifting) set a world record for both the snatch and the total in the 77 kg category, with 175 kg (390 lb) and 379 kg (840 lb) respectively.
He won the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
The five sportsmen who I think are the best of 2012 are:-
David Rudisha (Kenya – Athletics) set a brilliant world record in the 800m at the Olympics and dominated the event. Track and Field News athlete of the year for the third year in a row.
Ilya Ilyin (Kazakhstan -Weightlifting) He won the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the men’s 94 kg category with a world record total of 418 kg beating the old record set in 1999 by 6kg. He was successful in all six attempts at the Games. His final lift of 233 kg is the world record for clean and jerk.
Sun Yang (China-Swimming) set a new world record by over 3 seconds in the 1500m freestyle when winning Olympic gold. Became the first man since 1980 to win golds at 400m and 1500m freestyle at the same Olympics.
Sergei Martynov (Belarus – Shooting) Won Olympic gold in the 50m rifle prone event.He equalled the world record with a maximum score in qualifying and broke the world record by a long way in the final round. Won two other world cup events and was second in another.
Lionel Messi (Argentina-Football) Scored 91 goals for club and country in 2012, a world record for a calendar year at the top level. Won the FIFA Ballon d’Or for World Player of the year for the 4th successive time.
Everyone of these sportsmen broke a world record of sorts and were clearly the best at their sport or event. To make the final decision I have to look at their competitions. I would say that the most impressive world records compared to the old records were those set by Ilyin, Martinov and Messi. At their main events Martinov and Rudisha lost once each, Sun and Ilyin were unbeaten (I think). Ilyin only competed in one major event so it is hard to know how to rate him. Messi produced a brilliant standard week after week in order to break a forty year-old scoring record but was unable to inspire his club side to a successful year by their standards.
Taking all this into account. It is because he produced such a high standard for a full year, in the most widely played sport, that I have chosen Lionel Messi as my Sportsman of the Year for 2012.