My shortlist for the best team in world sport in 2013:
GB women’s cycling team pursuit squad. The team has won every world cup race they have entered and have reduced the world record at will. The team took another three seconds from it in their most recent race.
In figure skating both the world champions in Pairs, Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, and in Dance Meryl Davis and Charlie White had unbeaten seasons. They also both set world record scores in the world championships although as the current scoring system is relatively new that isn’t a great surprise. The Russian Pair won by a big margin at the worlds and would be my pick out of the two pairs here.
The All Blacks New Zealand rugby union team went through the entire year undefeated, winning 14 matches out of 14. They were the first team in the professional era to achieve that, yet there is a feeling that they aren’t quite the best team ever. They had some close calls towards the end of the year against opposition they should have beaten more easily.
In women’s handball the Hungarian team Gyori Audi ETO KC lost one game all season, and that was by only one goal, on their way to domestic titles and the European Champions League.
The Australian sailors Mat Belcher & Will Ryan only came together as a team at the end of 2012. Since then they have won every regatta they have entered in the 470 class. Their 10 wins in a row have brought them the world cup title and the world championship.
Australia’s rugby league team swept all before them on their way to regaining the world cup. The Kangaroos were a little rusty in their first game but came from behind to beat England. After that there was no looking back and in the final they crushed the defending champions New Zealand.
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan won the first three tennis Grand Slams of the year in men’s doubles but fell short of completing the Grand Slam in the final major of the year, the US Open.
Bayern Munich Football Club had a sensational year. They won the German league, losing only one game all season, and completed a treble of trophies in Germany. They are unbeaten also in the 2013/4 season. They also won the UEFA Champions League and the world club championship in dominant fashion. It was one of the great years by any football club. I thought when starting this article that it would be difficult for any team to beat that. Yet I found a team that had an even more amazing year.
In women’s volleyball in the 2012-2013 Season, Vakıfbank İstanbul won all 52 games, and won the championship. They won 6 games in Turkish Women’s Volleyball Cup, 12 games in CEV European Women’s Champions League, 29 games (22 league, 7 play-off games) in the Turkish Women’s Volleyball League, 1 game in Turkish Women’s Volleyball Super Cup and 4 games in FIVB Club World Championship, and never lost in the 2012-13 Season. This is a total of 51 wins out of 51 in 2013 and the two most important titles in the sport.
My top three are Mat Belcher & Will Ryan, Bayern Munich and Vakıfbank İstanbul.
All were exceptional but with an incredible perfect season my choice as team of the year is the Turkish women’s volleyball team Vakıfbank İstanbul.