Chris Rattue lists the good, bad and ugly from the sporting year.
named her their sportsperson of the year. And it had a lot to do with more than just sport.
The USA football star was a key figure in the World Cup winning team. This included scoring the opening goal of the final in Lyon through a penalty and being named player of the match as the Netherlands were beaten 2 – 0.
But she was already the dominant personality of the tournament, through her activism for women's sport, political profile, and a spat with US President Donald Trump.
It was an extraordinary situation with Trump trying to belittle Rapinoe, telling her to win the World Cup first before daring to declare she would not visit the White House.
Three years ago, Rapinoe stood, so to speak, with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick by kneeling during an anthem before a game with her club.
With a punk-ish pink hair-do, and defiant goal celebrations, Rapinoe stands out in every way.
She experienced a pressure few athletes have ever endured, including coming under attack from the world's most powerful politician.
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She survived, even thrived.
The World Cup was Rapinoe's tournament, no doubt about it. She even won the Golden Boot, and then FIFA's player of the year award.
Having alienated large sections of America she won a lot of them over.
TIGER WOODS THE MASTER
It wasn't just the sports world who applauded when Woods won the Masters, his first major in 11 years and 15th in total.
The world's best golfers stood around the Augusta clubhouse to pay homage to one of sport's greatest figures, knowing that his exploits had raised the game's profile and their earnings.
Woods had endured a horror run of injuries and a number of spinal surgeries, and then there was the personal stuff 10 years ago which saw his popularity crash in some quarters.
Once the darling of the masses, he was suddenly reviled – believe it or not – for his infidelities. Sponsors also deserted him.
The attacks on Woods were outrageous, and ridiculously out of proportion to any other similar case. Many Woods sympathisers believed he suffered unduly as a black man in a predominantly white sporting genre.
It was the first time the 43-year-old Woods had won a Major when trailing after 54 holes, and it left him three behind the Jack Nicklaus record. Nicklaus reckoned the Woods victory had him "shaking in his boots" because his record was under threat again.
Simone Biles' combined Olympic and world championship medal haul says she is the greatest gymnast ever. She not only added five more world titles in Germany this year, but put her name to new feats: the floor routine's triple-double and the double-double beam dismount.
"Putting my name on a skill is really rewarding, just because it'll be in the code forever," said the 22-year-old Biles, who already had a couple of other signature moves.
Biles is a champion and a survivor. She is among the dozens of athletes sexually abused by former American gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
Her competitive feats show no sign of waning.
The famous Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, who scored the first perfect 10 in 1976, told USA TODAY : "If we're talking about domination, nothing like that has ever happened in our sport. I don't think there will ever be anything like that. She's one of a kind."
YOU HAD TO BE THERE
Result aside - England beat New Zealand in case you've forgotten - the cricket World Cup final in July was brilliant. Crazy sports drama doesn't get better.
There was ball rebounding to the boundary off England all rounder Ben Stokes' bat, there was Ben Stokes' extraordinary innings, there was Ben Stokes' Kiwi connection…plus there was the countback rule, a dud umpiring decision, and a lot more. It was pandemonium.
The match at Lords in London has been described as the greatest in one dayer history, the Super Over being needed for the first time after it was 241-all in normal time.
With New Zealand requiring two to win from the final Super Over ball, Martin Guptill was run out attempting the second.
"England have won the World Cup! By the barest of margins! By the barest of all margins! Absolute ecstasy for England! Agony, agony for New Zealand!," roared commentator Ian Smith.
CHUMPS TO CHAMPS
Just when you thought it was safe to write them of…the Silver Ferns did the unthinkable and won the World Cup, beating Australia 52 – 51 in the July final.
It was such an incredible turnaround for a team which had been in disarray, after years of living in Australia's shadow.
Australia, gunning for a fourth consecutive title, went into the game s firm favourites.
The Silver Ferns gained a three goal advantage just before halftime, thanks to a vital Katrina Rore intercept, and led by up to seven goals in the third quarter. But the final quarter developed into an extremely tight battle, the Kiwis winning the thriller 52 – 51 to claim New Zealand's fifth title.
But wait, there's more. Recalled veteran Casey Kopua discovered later she had been in the early stages of pregnancy during the tournament in Liverpool.
The final was the great defender Kopua's last test for New Zealand.
"It's not just for us, it's for everybody in New Zealand," she said.
Another tennis classic involving two of the Big Three, and if some felt the quality didn't quite place it in the very highest echelon of Grand Slam finals, the drama certainly did.
Novak Djokovic saved two match points to beat Roger Federer in five sets, over nearly five hours, the fifth set requiring a tie break at 12-al and lasting a tick over two hours in itself.
The fifth set tie break system had only been instituted at Wimbledon this year and this was the first singles match requiring its use.
"I'm very strong at being able to move on because I don't want to be depressed about actually an amazing tennis match," claimed Federer, before adding: "I just feel like it's such an incredible opportunity missed, I can't believe it."
Tennis.com named I the No. 1 men's match of the decade. Federer later revealed he shed a few tears in the locker room.
The rest of us could only marvel at the longevity and quality of the Djokovic/Federer/Rafael Nadal era.
LIVERPOOL'S BID FOR THE EPL TITLE
Not that we want to take sides in England's glamour football competition, but Liverpool are a special case.
Everyone knows a Liverpool fan.
Their glory years attracted so many fans around the world. It is almost beyond belief that they have never won the EPL title.
Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and co. are playing wonderful football, and Jurgen Klopp's players keep coming up with the goods when under pressure.
We won't try to jinx them with a prediction, but it has been a very promising season so far.
The year included their miraculous Champions League second leg comeback against Lionel Messi's Barcelona. The 4 – 0 semifinal victory was probably the team performance of the year, and they beat Tottenham Hotspur in the final.
Before the second leg at Anfield, manager Jurgen Klopp told his side: "'I don't think it's possible but because it's you we have a chance."
If he really did believe they had a chance of overturning the 0 – 3 deficit against one of the world's best sides who include the greatest current player, he was about the only one.
Us against the world – the New England Patriots thrive on that. And the world is happy to help out in that regards.
Love them or not, Brady's greatness was beyond question a long time ago, yet he still finds the motivation and smarts to chase those famous rings.
The 41-year-old quarterback powered to his sixth Super Bowl victory, against the LA Rams, despite his advancing years leading to a form drop during the regular season.
Coach Bill Belichick and Brady remain the central components to a remarkable sports dynasty, and they continued their winning ways when the 2019/20 season got underway.
David Warner was cast as the chief villain in Australia's 2018 ball tampering scandal in South Africa, and on a return from suspension he had an awful Ashes series in England this year.
But you can't keep a great cricketer down for long. He smashed an amazing triple century against Pakistan in Adelaide with a strike rate of 80 while running like a greyhound between the wickets throughout.
Warner polarised opinion anyway, so it's difficult to pinpoint where he lies in the game's affections. But in terms of cricket, he's back along with his famous leap to celebrate each personal milestone.
Andy Ruiz jr was given little chance of beating Anthony Joshua, who held the world's heavyweight boxing belts, when they met in New York.
Ruiz was only fighting because Jarrell Miller had failed drug tests, and he went into the fight looking rather chunky.
But Ruiz caused one of the greatest upsets in the fight game's history, with a seventh round TKO win in June while leading on two of the three scorecards.
The California-born Ruiz gave Mexico its first heavyweight champ, but he partied and ate his way to defeat in the December re-match and will probably become one of boxing's most famous one-hit wonders.
The pundits who have been raving about, mixed martial arts sensation Israel Adesanya were proved right in emphatic fashion. The Aucklander stormed to the undisputed UFC middleweight crown with a knockout win over New Zealand born Aussie Robert Whittaker in Melbourne.
He is also be the man to take the UFC further into New Zealand mainstream. The lanky Adesanya might now be New Zealand's most recognisable international sports star.
You can spot him in the social pages, and on the red carpet. His gigs this year included presenting The Beths with Best Group at the New Zealand Music Awards.
American baseball isn't in the greatest of health, with crowd figures creeping downwards. Its 50 years since Gridiron overtook baseball as the country's favourite sport.
But baseball still often provides terrific post-season drama. It came up trumps again this year culminating with an excellent World Series between the winning Washington Nationals and Houston Astros.
In a sport which has become obsessed with home run hitting, some of the pitching was exceptional.
RUGBY WORLD CUP FINAL
A stunning Springboks performance produced a 20 point win over England who, having destroyed the All Blacks in a semifinal, allowed triumphalism to get the better of them.
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi's winning speech, a call for unity in his troubled country, was even more memorable than the game.
OH NO, NOT AGAIN
Sound familiar? There were mounting calls for Russia to be banned from the Olympics in Tokyo next year, over its performance enhancing drug regime, and the axe dropped in December.
A whistleblower was central to the case, with evidence of "data manipulation" to hide failed drug tests.
So Russia's athletes are banned again but as previously they can compete as neutrals if they are proved clean. The World Anti-Doping Agency ban extends to the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev predictably claimed his country was the victim of "chronic anti-Russian hysteria".
Whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, a Russian anti-doping official who has taken refuge in the United States, said: "Finally, fraud, lies and falsifications of unspeakable proportions have been punished in full swing."
Wellingtonian Chris Swallow became the eighth Kiwi motorcycle rider killed at the treacherous Isle of Man TT in August.
The 37-year-old lost control of his bike at the Ballaugh Bridge section racing in the Senior Classic TT category. The PE teacher from Tawa College, who to New Zealand from England in 2010, left behind his wife and daughters aged two and four. His father Bill is a noted Isle of Man racer, having competed well into his 60s.
The attacks from some rivals aimed at Scott McLaughlin, who was about as close to unbeatable as it gets in his successful defence of the Supercars title, were pathetic.
The inference that DJR Team Penske was crushing opponents through an illegal engine just did not stand up to scrutiny. It smacked of jealousy or frustration.
In a sport of high precision, the charges against McLaughlin were so vague as to be embarrassing to those making them.
One rival, David Reynolds, even seemed obsessed with claiming that McLaughlin's personality had changed, which sounded more like the ravings of someone who was becoming unhinged by their own failures.
The Kiwi has proved he is brilliant in any car and he broke Craig Lowndes longstanding record for most wins in a season as he powered his Ford Mustang to a cherished first Bathurst 1000 title and the overall series win.
Instead of tarnishing McLaughlin's image, they dragged Supercars into the gutter. Which is a mighty shame.
One low level win was it for heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker this year. In another contest, the Aucklander was laid low by a spider bite, forcing his fight against Brit Dereck Chisora to be cancelled.
Twenty months on from the mammoth title fight against Anthony Joshua in Cardiff – it is rumoured to have netted Parker about $8m – his career has nosedived.
RACISM IN FOOTBALL
It just won't go away. A Dutch player reported being called a "negro and cotton picker" by opposing fans, one of many incidents around the world.
Among those making a stand is Liverpool's Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum who said he would walk off the pitch, whatever the match, if he heard racist abuse.
"Why should I play in that case?" he told CNN.
"I think everyone should do it (walk off). I think that's the way you support another person, because why should you go on? If you play on, it will never stop."
Israel Folau's homophobic rants are good, bad and ugly depending on your point of view.
There are people out there who fully support his religious-based homophobic posts, and still others who see it as a free-speech issue.
Most people are appalled at his discriminatory nonsense though.
And the former Wallaby star's "Hell awaits" declaration – he predicted a hot afterlife for liars, fornicators and plenty more – presents such a sad and narrow view of life.
DARK CLOUDS OVER SUN
China's swimming superstar Sun Yang faced podium protests from fellow competitors at the world champs in South Korea, related to his behavior at a botched and acrimonious blood/urine test for performance enhancing drugs in 2018.
The podium, a place traditionally reserved for celebration and exaltation, turned into an ugly soap box.
The drama moved to an Arbitration Court hearing in Switzerland, where Sun set about saving his career by proving that testing procedures were not followed.
New Oakland Raider Antonio Brown was so eager to prove his feet issues were the real deal that he had photos taken of them of them during the pre-season period.
The $73m signing had bad blisters, not a pretty sight. A lot of fans said they would have been happier to take his word for it.
"My feet is pretty much getting circumcised," the NFL Hall of Fame candidate said.
Warning: This is not a video for the faint hearted.
US gymnast Sam Cerio, from Auburn University, landed badly form a handspring double. She dislocated both knew and broke both legs, screaming in agony as teammates and officials came to her aid.
The spat between Julian Savea and Toulon's owner Mourad Boudjella also included disgusting abuse from so-called fans directed at the former All Black wing. One reckoned he had breasts bigger than his wife. Another wished that his mother would get cancer.
Savea's wife Fatima hit back, saying she was "absolutely disgusted by this s***" on Twitter."
"And people wonder why mental health in rugby had become a big problem. Take a minute to be considerate of people's feelings instead of bashing them behind a keyboard or phone screen," she tweeted.
Social media's importance in modern sport is undeniable, but it is not always a good thing.