The coronavirus pandemic has forced cancellations or postponements of events across the globe. If the lack of sporting action has left a void in your day, here's something to satiate that hunger - our pick of five classic sporting moments from the years gone by that you should revisit.
Ronaldinho vs. England, FIFA World Cup quarterfinal, 2002
Over the course of his career at Barcelona, Ronaldinho produced many moments of magic. But the one that’s still etched in my mind is the performance that first announced his arrival on the big stage -- against England in the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup in Korea-Japan. It was a time when English Premier League was beamed across Asia and loyalties were firmly divided between Manchester United and Arsenal. Scores of such fans in India united to root for England by default.
Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal, Wimbledon final, 2008
In the mid-2000s, I was always told by legions of Roger Federer fans that Rafael Nadal, in his pirate pants and sleeveless shirt, was nothing more than an upstart with a one-dimensional clay-court game who would soon fade away. From 2004 to 2007, Federer had won 11 of the 16 Slams and was well on his way to being christened the greatest ever. But Nadal stood between Federer and his coronation. The Spaniard had beaten Federer in three consecutive French Open finals (2006-2008). Federer, for his part, had overcome Nadal in the Wimbledon final both in 2006 and 2007 and was primed in 2008 to become the first man to claim six straight singles crowns at the All England club.
Sachin Tendulkar 175 vs. Australia in Hyderabad, 2009
A Sachin Tendulkar solo ending in an agonising defeat inevitably brings the Chennai Test of 1998-99 against Pakistan to mind. But the maestro’s terrific 175 (141b, 19x4, 4x6) against Australia in Hyderabad in November 2009 can stand shoulder to shoulder. Until then in the series, Tendulkar had appeared scratchy. Leading up to the match, he hadn’t crossed 40 in five innings, a lean patch by his exalted standards. On that day, however, he didn’t put a foot wrong.
Michael Phelps eight golds, Beijing Olympics, 2008
Mark Spitz’s seven gold medals in the 1972 Munich Olympics was the record for most golds in a single edition. Michael Phelps first tried to break that at Athens 2004, but had to ‘settle’ for six gold and two bronze medals. Four years later in Beijing, he swam to victories in all eight races he competed in, seven of them with world record timings. Over nine days and 17 races, I sat riveted in front of the television every morning as Phelps whizzed through the waters.
Usain Bolt, triple ‘three-peat’, Rio Olympics, 2016
Usain Bolt was a showman. But no sprinter in history has had such an accessible persona. Elite athletes often talk about ‘being in the zone’, that state where the immersive focus render them Zen-like. Bolt’s greatest gift was that he made all of it look so amateurishly simple. At Rio in 2016, he completed the triple ‘three-peat’ of Olympic golds – the 100m, 200m and 4x100m titles across three straight Olympic Games – with world record times in all three events. It all started in 2008 when the world looked to him to drag track and field out of the pits after L’affaires Marion Jones and Justin Gatlin. In his first ever Olympic 100m in Beijing, he shattered the world record and ended the race with chest-thumping euphoria, well before the finish line. It kicked off a string of 21 global championship races he would run from 2008 to 2016. He won 19 of them. The signing off in Rio was just the way he had started, winning the 100m with that enduring sideways-looking giggle with a few metres still left. Those nine golds are Bolt’s and Bolt’s alone, but the clowning and the goofiness made him one of our own.
(This is a part of a daily series where Sportstar's correspondents will pick their five favourite sporting moments worth revisiting. Reader contributions are welcome. Send in your picks to email@example.com)