Biggest sports stories of 2010 (+ photos)

By Cameron McMillan

2010 was a big year for Sonny Bill Williams. Photo / Getty Images
2010 was a big year for Sonny Bill Williams. Photo / Getty Images

1 - All Whites go undefeated
They went into the FIFA World Cup as heavy underdogs and left South Africa as the only unbeaten team. The All Whites' World Cup journey began with a last second Winston Reid goal against Slovakia handing New Zealand their first ever World Cup point. The dream run continued with another 1-1 draw against defending champions Italy before their final group match against Paraguay where a win would have seen the All Whites top Group F. Unfortunately they couldn't find a match-winner and had to settle for a third straight draw but it was enough to make the rest of the soccer world stand up and take notice.

2 - Sonny Bill Williams heads home
Within the last 12 months the former Kiwis star went from club rugby in France to wearing the All Blacks jersey three times during the Grand Slam tour. First he signed with the NZRU, then once he arrived the country became transfixed by SBW as he made his rugby debut for Christchurch club side Belfast.

Then it was his Canterbury debut against Bay of Plenty, followed by a brilliant solo try against Otago and culminating with his All Blacks' debut at Twickenham. Whatever he did people wanted to know about it. Throw in a boxing bout and it was a busy year for SBW who will no doubt make even bigger headlines in the next 12 months.

3 - Tiger Woods finds the rough
The failures of Tiger Woods made bigger headlines than the successes of anyone else in the golfing world in 2010 as the former number one tried to get his career back on track. His personal life dominated the news before his return to the golf course in April at the US Masters where he finished in a tie for fourth. As the year went on Woods' quest for a victory continued but for the first time since he turned pro a tournament victory alluded him.

4 - Will the Games begin?
There was talk of New Zealand boycotting the Games over poor conditions in the athletes' village just days before the event was due to start. That was followed by a pedestrian bridge collapsing, the roof of the wrestling arena falling apart and snakes showing up in the athletes' village. It was touch and go for a few days as to whether the Games would go ahead but in the end everything was finished on time.

5 - The sound of South Africa
Love it or hate it the vuvuzela horn dominated the World Cup with a unique background noise that gave the impression thousands of bees were about to launch onto the players from above. Every game was greeted with the BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ noise that got old very quickly and saw other sporting events ban them.

6 - Storm hit rock bottom
The NRL was rocked by yet another scandal when the Melbourne Storm had their 2007 and 2009 titles stripped off them after breaking the salary cap rules. On of the darkest days in NRL history, the Storm were forced to return more than $1m of prize-money, barred from receiving points for the rest of the 2010 season and also stripped of three minor premiership titles. On the field they responded by thrashing the Warriors 40-6 in their first match following the scandal.

7 - Kiwis strike gold
Despite the pre-Games dramas in Delhi, New Zealand had plenty to cheer about once the event began with six gold medals and a truck load of silvers (22 in total). It was the Kiwi women that stood out in Delhi with Valerie Adams, Alison Shanks, Jaclyn Hawkes and Joelle King and the Silver Ferns striking gold while the likes of Nikki Hamblin, Lauren Ellis and Jo Kiesanowski impressed. The rugged Kiwi male image was kept intact with golds in shooting and rugby sevens.

8 - The fix is in
Who would have thought a no-ball would cause so much drama? The News of the World broke the Pakistan story in August that Pakistan pacemen Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif were paid to bowl no-balls in the side's fourth test against England as part of a multi-million dollar match-fixing ring. Following an investigation Pakistan captain Salman Butt was also allegedly behind the scam and the trio were suspended by the ICC.

9 - Tragic start to Vancouver Olympics
Despite a fairly successful Winter Olympics the Vancouver-hosted event was always going to be overshadowed by death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died when he was flung off the track during a practice session just hours before the Games began.

Questions were raised about the safety of the event as the luge track was immediately shortened. Despite the horrific incident the Games went ahead as planned.

10 - Michael Clarke-Lara Bingle saga
It was barely a sports story and more women's magazine fodder as the Australian vice-captain left his squad during their tour of New Zealand to sort out his relationship with Lara Bingle after naked photos of her surfaced on the web.

After calling off their engagement and reportedly losing a very expensive ring down the toilet, the story eventually deserved a spot on the sports pages when Clarke arrived in Wellington for the first test - notching up his highest test score of 168 in a 253 run partnership with Marcus North.

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