Looking back on 2008, it seems to me to be one of the better years ever for a sports fan. While I obviously am more attuned to endurance sports like running, biking, and competitive eating, I can be found on my couch most weekends watching more mainstream sports as well. Below is my top 10 (with obvious US Bias) list...
1. Without a doubt, the Wimbledon Men's Singles final between Federer and Nadal was the greatest sports performance of the year. Even if you aren't a tennis player how could you not get sucked into that marathon match (4:48 match time). John McEnroe was actually at a loss for words near the end, which doesn't happen too often. He ended up hugging both players after the match. Tennis might be the perfect combination of endurance, strength, skill, and mental toughness.
2. Usain Bolt's demolition of the best sprinters in the world at the Olympics (100 and 200). Say what you will about his prancing and preening, but he made the best sprinters in the world look like they didn't belong on the same track. The 100 and 200 are probably the most competitive distances in all of track, and he's got 2 Golds and 2 WRs now. I've never seen anyone look so relaxed and smooth while running that fast.
3. Samuel Wanjiru's Olympic Gold and Oly record marathon of 2:06:32! While not the fastest marathon of the year, it certainly was the greatest marathon ever run considering the course, the weather, and it being a championship race with no rabbits. This was televised during the combined Incline Club/CRUD post Pikes Peak/Leadville party and the TV room was packed!
4. Phelps' 8 Golds. I know many people would rate this as the best story of the year, but 4th is as high as I can put it in 2008 due to the previous performances.
5. Tiger Wood's US Open play-off win. I'm sure many people, like me, were rooting for Rocco Mediate to pull off the upset win, but regardless it was about as exciting as golf gets. Then finding out that Tiger had the knee injury made it even more remarkable.
6. The Giants win at the Super Bowl over heavily favored New England. Eli might be only the 3rd best quarterback in his family, but that is still better than just about everyone else out there.
7. Stephanie Brown Trafton wins Gold in the Discus; first US women's gold in that event since 1932.
8. David Wiens wins his 6th straight LT100 Bike race, lowering his own CR in the process. It was an epic duel between Wiens and Lance Armstrong, with Wiens pedaling across the finish line with a flat tire. This one year after Wiens held off Floyd Landis at the same event. Thanks to Garry Wang for the photo below. For those of you who have run the LT 100, the photo shows both Lance and Dave riding up the powerlines on the way back to town!
9. Ok, I had to have at least one ultrarunning performance! Dave Mackey smashes the Course Record at the MiWok 100K for the UR performance of the year. I've run this course, along with about every other major trail runner of the last 10 years, which makes his CR all the more impressive in that his time is heads and shoulders faster than anyone elses.
10. In the 93rd annual 4th of July Hotdog eating contest, Joey Chestnut upsets six-time champion Takeru Kobayashi in a five-dog eat off after each finished regulation tied with 59 dogs.