Ten thoughts, which in some cases become wishes, for 2020.
1. Let's start big and hope that the International Olympic Committee, and every other world sporting body, decides to get tough on drug cheats, instead of spouting weasel words and allowing, as a prime example, athletes from Russia, where state sponsored and organised drug use has been proven to be rampant, to compete at the Olympics in Tokyo under a loopy Olympic flag of convenience.
2. I'm too old to believe in miracles, which is what it would be if the money trail around awarding football's 2022 men's World Cup in Qatar was somehow unravelled, and a bunch of crooks from FIFA went to jail. What will happen is that we'll be fed a stream of press releases about how the air-conditioned stadiums, which even in winter in Qatar will be essential to protect players from the stunning heat, are built, or almost finished, and will work perfectly. Money, as Bob Dylan once sang, doesn't talk, it swears.
3. Let's hope the Black Caps haven't been mentally battered so badly by the thrashings in Australia that they can't bounce back against India. When, for example, New Zealand's former batting coach, Craig McMillan, says it would have been "cruel" to keep picking opener Jeet Raval, you know the problems for some players probably are as deep as the more rabid online critics suggest.
4. Given an injury free run the Crusaders' Braydon Ennor could be a major star in Super Rugby this year. To paraphrase a coaching legend from Aussie league, the late Jack Gibson, Ennor is so big, so strong, and so fast it's often a case of: "How do ya stop him? Ya don't."
5. It'd be great for not only the Blues, but also the All Blacks, if the Ioane brothers had a massive season. We know that when Rieko is in form he's world class. Now, with Kieran Read in Japan there's a spot in the All Blacks for a powerhouse, skilled No 8 screaming to be filled. Akira, if he has the desire and the fitness levels to match his speed and skillset, could win that jersey.
6. Another award will surely come next month for Dame Noeline Taurua when she should be named the Halberg coach of the year. Somehow you know that it won't change her, or her approach to people and the game of netball. It was typical of Taurua to comment that her new Silver Ferns' captain, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, is, amongst other attributes, "a lovely person". It takes one, as they say, to know one.
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7. Talking of good people, Lisa Carrington continues to amaze, and, at the Tokyo Olympics, expect her to be collecting her third, and maybe even her fourth or fifth, gold medal. The water could be a profitable arena all round for New Zealand in Japan, with Carrington and the kayakers likely to be joined in the circle of success by rowers and sailors.
8. Maybe he doesn't believe in them, and has privately rejected offers already, but if there's a Kiwi sports official who has earned a spot in the Queen's honours list, it's surely Karl Budge, whose work at the ASB tennis classic continues to astound. The suggestion they may trim the workload for the men's tournament, changing a winning set to four games rather than six so the world's best would be more likely to come to Auckland to prepare for the Australian Open, is a perfect example of how well, and far, Budge thinks outside the square.
9. World heavyweight boxing has rarely been crammed with as many box office drawcards as it is at the moment. A fan can choose to be warmed by the charm of Anthony Joshua, amused by the antics of Tyson Fury, or outraged by the savagery of Deontay Wilder's pre-fight hype, with his moronic claims he wants to kill a man in the ring. When the money and contracts align the undisputed champion will have the attention of the boxing world in a way not really seen since the days of Mike Tyson.
10. It won't thrill old school diehards, but in the 21st century one of the best developments in New Zealand sport is the determination of our major codes to make kids' sport less geared to titles and representative selection, and more to participation and enjoyment. The decision isn't based on boardroom navel gazing, but on the remarkable happenings in Norway over the last 30 years. There they discovered that not drilling kids when they're young, far from making them all wimps who don't excel in sport as adults, actually has the opposite effect, with Norway winning a swag of Olympic medals. As well, there's been the happy by-product of more Norwegian people continuing to play sport for fun and fitness. Administrators are often the whipping boys in sport, so it's nice to end with a "good on you" for them.