2020: A year to savour

The new year promises to be a memorable one for sports fans around the world

PUMPED UP: Serena Williams

THE DECADE kicks off with the ultimate sport- ing showcase scheduled during the middle of 2020 and what a spectacle it promises to be.

The Olympic Games is everyone’s cup of tea due to the all-encompassing nature of the multisport competition.

But as signifcant as the actual sport will be it’s a pivotal time for the region in which it will be held as the Japanese look to continue exposing their wonderful part of the world to all and sundry following last year’s fantastic Rugby World Cup.

Cast your mind back 10 years and we opened that decade (The Ten’s) with an equally signif- cant sporting occasion in Africa, with the World Cup.

The football tournament offered the perfect opportunity for those who wouldn’t usually be able to find an excuse to travel to the continent, giving the likes of Durban, Free State, Bloem- fontein and Polokwane in South Africa the chance to share in the limelight usually bestowed upon cities such as Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

I’m eager to see what Tokyo has to offer and I have been brushing up on my Japanese in order to unearth stories you wouldn’t usually read.

The Olympics aren’t the only sporting event I’m looking forward to.

Euro 2020 offers the chance to visit multiple countries during the competition, with a host of nations getting involved.

This, for me, increases the odds of England being able to lift the trophy. I expect a young and red-blooded England team to be chomping at the bit to make history under Gareth Southgate’s tenure and this tournament represents the best opportunity in years.

Another chance for young British athletes to shine comes in the form of the European Athletics Championships, which take place in Paris this August.

With the Olympic Games having just concluded a few weeks earlier, the team that travels to Paris will almost inevitably be filled with second tier talent and those who didn’t make the Olympic team. This provides a great chance for new stories and new names to grab the headlines.

Competitions and events I’m most looking forward to in 2020:Who will be the new 100m king? Christian Coleman took the World Championships gold medal in Qatar last year and will head to Japan (provided he qualities of course) as the man to beat.

What about the ladies? Well, in 2016 Elaine Thompson was the woman who left Rio sitting on top of the throne, but there is a feeling Jamaica’s dominance in the sprints at Olympic level ended that year. Will the Caribbean island represent at the top of the podium once more? Time will tell.

Tennis:

At the time of writing this I’d just come off social media where I saw Serena Williams hitting the heavy bag in a quick boxing session coached by Iron Mike Tyson. If that isn’t ominous, I don’t know what is.

Not for a long time have I seen Serena in the type of shape she looks in at this early pre-season point. Go and check out her Instagram and see for yourself.

I’m going go out on a limb here and suggest that 2020 is the year she breaks all the re- cords. Provided her body holds up and she plays the circuit as smart as she always has, then this time next year we’ll be hailing the best we ever saw play the game and she’ll have the records to go with the moniker.

Horse racing:

We saw Frankel retire in the last decade, but I wasn’t one of the lucky ones (unlike the sports editor Rodney Hinds) who got to see him run.

I’ve never been to Royal Ascot or the Grand National, but I am going this year. Every year in this decade I will experience a sport in an iconic venue that I have never attended before. So, I’m starting with the sport of Kings. This year’s National takes place at Aintree on April 4, while Royal Ascot is held from June 16-20.

Tiger Woods:

He’s not finished, far from it, in fact he’s very much in the game and if anyone had suggested this at the start of last year it might have got the biggest roar of laughter in the room, but I’m going to say it: Tiger Woods can win in Augusta this April.

FAMILIAR ROAR: Tiger Woods

Woods won the Masters, which was his first major championship win in 11 years and his 15th major overall.

He can do it again. In fact every year this decade he could win one, which makes for an ex- citing future where the sport is concerned. But can we see another Tiger coming soon?

MMA:

Those of you who have ardently read these column inches over

the 37 years we’ve been in print will know that for the last decade we’ve covered and sup- ported Mixed Martial Arts from close quarters in a time of rapid growth for the sport.

The last decade saw the big- gest and most powerful of the MMA organisations, The UFC, change hands of ownership for over four billion dollars. If that isn’t growth I don’t know what is. The sport is a mainstay now, part of the calendar, here to stay.

We have produced a host of homegrown representatives in the UFC over the years and next year could see a new face crowned champion of the welterweight division.

Leon Edwards is a humble fighter from the Midlands, remember his name because he’s on a mission and has been tipped on our Lifestyle pages as one to watch this year.

If you didn’t get involved with this sport in the past decade, jump on board now, it’s not too late. Before you know it you will be hooked.

Lewis Hamilton:

I’m so excited to see what will be a highlight of this decade, the day Lewis Hamilton is crowned the greatest Formula 1 driver there ever was.

THE WHEEL DEAL: Lewis Hamilton

If the previous decade’s trajectory is anything to go by then, surely, this is a home run? It must happen? And when it does, ohhh will I celebrate!

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