Monthly Archives: January 2012

5 Sporting Events to Look Forward to in 2012

I’ll start with an apology. My suggestions last year were, frankly, dreadful. The Cricket and Rugby Union World Cups were dreadfully dull, the South American teams forgot how to score in the Copa America and Haye v. Klitschko was quite the one-sided affair. Even the Masters, won by Charl Schwartzel, will only be remembered for Rory McIlroy’s spectacular collapse in his final round.

So I’ve told myself to be better this year. Have a finer judgement, be more original, everyone knows about the Olympics, and to be honest, the only thing about that I’m looking forward to is the Closing Ceremony.

Speedway: New Zealand Grand Prix – 31 March

I’ve said it many times previously, but speedway is having a torrid time of it. The domestic scene in the UK is frankly a shambles, the rules in Poland exclude some of the very best from driving in the best league, and the only thing that isn’t going horribly wrong is their showpiece events. On the contrary from the rest of the speedway world, the Speedway Grand Prix is looking good. Especially with the introduction of the race in New Zealand, at the Western Springs Stadium near Auckland.

After Greg Hancock’s World Championship win at the young age of 41, he’s hoping to defend his title, and start by doing so with a win in New Zealand. On the face of it, it is difficult to predict who is going to win the title overall. Runner-up in 2011. Andreas Jonsson, is prone to starting his season slowly, Jason Crump and Tomasz Gollob seem to be on the decline, and the likes of Emil Sayfutdinov have so far failed to continue living up to expectations.

This could be the time for Chris Holder to step up. The Australian is still young, and has shown more than enough times he is capable to challenge at least the podium. Two wins are already under his belt, including the massive British Grand Prix. Failing that, Jaroslaw Hampel has been knocking on the door for two years now, meaning this could be the year he manages to break in.

Formula 1: Bahrain Grand Prix – 22 April

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Putting this under ‘events to look forward to’ isn’t probably the right option, but ‘events which will be very interesting’ will certainly feature this. In 2011, despite the constant reports of violence against protestors in Bahrain, forming a small part of the Arab Spring, it was decided by the FIA that the race would go ahead. After some pressure though, it was eventually cancelled for the second time, but strangely placed back on the 2012 calendar.

So far, I’ve been surprised with the lack of anger against this. To the best of my knowledge, their is still protests going on, and those protests are being crushed on by the government. With only four months now until the Bahrain Grand Prix, this one may not actually happen, but it will no doubt continue to make the news.

The race itself is nowhere near being any good, with constant dullness since 2004 (apart from when Robert Kubica got pole, of course, but then I am heavily biased). The cancellation of it in 2011 spared us of another waste of 90 minutes, but the effects of the race on the actions of the protestors, governments, and the bottle of the fractured teams and governing bodies, will be highly interesting to follow.

Rugby League: Super League Magic Weekend – 26/27 May

Sometime next year, the world will be descending on the United Kingdom (and Ireland… and France…and probably half of the rest of the northern hemisphere) for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. International strength was shown in the recent Four Nations, with Wembley and Elland Road both being used to boost the game and attendances, and it worked. Even if Australia decided they fancied winning again.

This year, while the international scene rests with no World Cup or Four Nations, its crucial that the domestic game is given a bigger stage to stand on. The second biggest selling point of the Super League season is the Magic Weekend, which is very much similar to a model strutting down the catwalk showing how good their costume is. It’s Richard Scudamore’s 39th game proposal, but without the excessive travelling.

For a change though, the sport isn’t trying to venture outside its comfort zones. Previous weekends in Cardiff and Edinburgh had seen the sport go into the unknown, and seemingly work, with the first Welsh club in the Super League coming soon after (albeit they have now lost their licence). This year though, its in Manchester and the Etihad Stadium, and a lower train fare for fans of the twelve of the fourteen clubs (I guess its always long for the Catalan Dragons, and to be honest, I’m sure Harlequins changed their name to the London Broncos so I’d remember they were there).

Football: Euro 2012 – 8 June to 1 July

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There are two major football championships coming up in 2012. The African Cup of Nations is being hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in January, and usually it comes up with fireworks. This year, the fireworks sadly probably happened in the qualifiers, with the likes of current champions Egypt, Nigeria, Cameroon and South Africa all failing to make it to the finals.

For me though, there is one international tournament that is worth watching, that being the European Championships held in Poland and Ukraine. The Euros, for me, always tend to be an exciting occasion. Though sadly, I fear this could be the last time I feel this way, with the expansion to 24 teams in 2016 probably going to ruin the competition.

The groups themselves are tasty, with the group of death featuring Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal, and even the group of… un-death, with hosts Poland, Russia, Czech Republic and Greece, which is bizarrely, looking very interesting to watch.

Despite my positivity, I can’t see a final four, right now, that doesn’t feature Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Italy (I lack any hope for those who qualify from groups A and D), those are the four best in Europe right now and well, I’d love to see the matchups between them too. Can Spain be the first team to win to win back to back Euros? There’s a good chance, but my money, is as always, on the Germans.

Golf: Ryder Cup – 28 to 30 September

I tried watching the Presidents Cup, and I really, really wanted to get into it. But it didn’t work out. Because, for me, and for many others, their is only one team event worth watching in golf.

In 2010, Celtic Manor played host to one of the most dramatic Ryder Cup’s in memory, with the schedule being ripped up because of the rather unsurprising early-autumn weather in Wales. It went down to the final game between Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan, which went to the wire and was effectively won by McDowell on the 16th, which his incredible, unforgettable putt, that rolled in to the cheers of the thousands huddling the green.

2012 should be once again enthralling, lets be honest, when does the Ryder Cup disappoint? The ever popular Jose Maria Olazabal will captain the Europeans, while Davis Love III captains the Americans. With the strength of European golf at the moment, it is difficult to see any other result at the Medinah Country Club, but it would be foolish to suggest what could happen come September.

And with any luck, the whole summer won’t be full of stories with the words ‘Tiger’, ‘Woods’ and ‘Captain’s pick’.

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