Now that 2013 has drawn to a close, it seems like a good time to reflect on what has happened in sport during the year as we've most definitely seen the good, the bad and the ugly side of sport.
Well where do we start? It was roughly at the beginning of 2013 when Lance Armstrong (finally) decided to admit to doping during his Tour De France dominance. The sad thing about the whole saga is how much his story had inspired many others that anything was possible after he recovered from cancer to dominate cycling. Armstrong destroyed the reputations' of those he thought went against him and has since been made to grovel as well as face law suits for loss of money from sponsors. However, cycling should count it's blessing that it hasn't dealt with many controversies since Armstrong's confession. The 2013 Tour De France was won by Britain's Chris Froome who at the 2012 Tour De France was used to support Bradley Wiggin's bid to win (which he did successfully).
On to rugby and what a year for the British and Irish Lions who won their first test against the Aussies since 1997 after winning the series 2-1, They were rightly voted team of the year on the BBC Sports personality of the year. England however didn't match their expectations of winning the rugby league World Cup crashing out of the semi-finals to New Zealand who lost in the final to Australia 34-2. But that shouldn't take the shine away for the British and Irish Lions who will look to build the series win when they face off next against the Australians.
Moving on to cricket and the main talking point of the year will be the the summer and winter ashes series. The summer series was one to remember for England as they won 3-0. Ian Bell was named man of the series and rightly so after some supreme batting displays as England dominated and Joe Root's 180 at Lords the highlight of the series. The win gave England confidence heading down under. After Stuart Broad's brilliant bowling display on the first day, England couldn't take advantage with the bat and were dominated by Mitchell Johnson's bowling. It went downhill as England lost the ashes and are 4-0 down facing a possible whitewash having had Jonathan Trott sent home due to personal issues after the first test, and Graham Swann's sudden retirement after the third test. Take nothing away from Australia and especially Mitchell Johnson, Michael Clarke and arguably the man of the series Brad Haddin as they've continually tormented England throughout the series. The fifth test gives England a chance to try out the likes of Gary Ballance, Boyd Rankin and Scott Borthwick as they look to plan for the future.
What a Year in Formula 1 and what a year for Sebastian Vettel. I don't think there are anymore words that can use to describe his achievements. Rewriting the record books becoming the youngest driver to win four consecutive titles, equalling the record of 9 consecutive wins and 13 wins in a season. There were times when several of his wins were overshadowed by booing from the crowd over the incident at the Malaysian Grand Prix where he passed Mark Webber after being instructed by Red Bull not to. But let's not allow the issue take anything away from Vettel, who was the only driver able to adapt to the tyre changing scenario to leave his rivals chasing his shadow, after the infamous British Grand Prix where there were six separate incidents involving Pirelli tyres bursting. Lewis Hamilton's first season at Mercedes by his own admission went better than expected and managed to pick up his first win for the silver arrows at the Hungarian Grand Prix whilst McLaren struggled with Jenson Button achieving their highest finish in Brazil with a fourth place. Fernando Alonso fell away from the pace after the tyre changes after a promising start. Now we have the 2014 season to look forward to with a host of rule changes which will leave designers scratching their heads on how to bring the best out of their cars next season as well as Kimi Raikonnen's move to Ferrari where he won the title in 2007.
The tennis season became one for British fans to remember as Andy Murray ended the wait for a British male champion at Wimbledon when he became the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win the coveted SW19 title after defeating then world number one Novak Djokovic in straight sets. But the year arguably belonged to Rafael Nadal. The Spainard returned from a lengthy injury spell to win the French Open and the US Open as well as reaching 14 singles finals since returning and winning 10 on top of returning to the top of the ATP rankings. Novak Djokovic (who beat Andy Murray in four sets at the Australian Open and lost in the French Open semi finals and the US Open final to Rafael Nadal) recently recruited Boris Becker to join his team as he looks to reclaim the world number spot from his rival. Swiss legend Roger Federer recently claimed that Wimbledon will be his best chance for a grand slam trophy this year as he looks to break the recent dominance of Nadal, Djokovic and Murray, this makes the 2014 tennis season one to look forward to for fans and players alike.
Now where do we start with football? Gareth Bale's world record move to Real Madrid? Neymar's move to Barcelona? David Beckham's retirement? I doubt many would have expected Sir Alex Ferguson to announce his retirement. Arguably the greatest manager of all time had done it all and had nothing left to prove, his retirement has made this season's Premier League unpredictable to say the least. Arsenal have made extra strides this season and whether they can keep it up or not is another thing, especially when you consider that Chelsea are winning without playing well and Manchester City have been unplayable at times. All the English teams have qualified for the knockout round in the Champions League but Bayern Munich (now taken over by Pep Guardiola after Jupp Heynkes's retirement following their treble winning success) look like early favourites to become the first team to retain the trophy although the teams left in the competition make this one of the strongest line ups in the knockout stages for years.
It's not long till the World Cup and with all the problems Brazil has faced with getting the facilities ready, and having to deal with unrest from angry locals has made the preparations near enough a farce. Roofs collasping, workers dying, protests and late stadium openings basically sums up Brazil's preparations of staging the World Cup. With several group of deaths drawn this promises to be a World Cup full of drama and excitement on paper. Here's to 2014 in Sport.