2012 - The Greatest Sporting Year

Johnny Nelson praises a sprinting superstar, Beefy salutes England's cricketers and Niall Quinn remembers THAT overhead kick...

Last Updated: 24/12/12 1:02pm

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Niall Quinn (Sky Sports Football)

Football highlight of the year

From a team perspective, what Manchester City achieved last May was obviously incredible. The drama and tension of them winning their first Premier League title in a minute of chaos against QPR is an incredible memory and it's one that will always be there in my mind.

But from an individual perspective, I will never forget seeing Zlatan Ibrahimovic score his overhead kick against England. I was actually in Tanzania in Africa watching the game live and the whole place jumped up in the air, even though nobody was shouting for Sweden. I think that's a true sign of a goal that went around the world. That's the best individual football moment of the year, no doubt.

Other sporting highlight of the year

In terms of wider sporting occasions, the rise of Rory McIlroy has been enjoyable to watch all year. As an Irishman I really appreciated his USPGA win and his performances to get to number one in the world. However, you have to say the Olympics was imply incredible.

Mo Farah's performance, for me, was the best part of it and he was marginally better than several other fabulous contenders. But from an Irish perspective I have to mention Katie Taylor, who won a gold medal for us in the boxing ring. That brought great joy to a country that has been a bit depressed in terms its economic state. She made us all feel good about ourselves this summer.

Kelvin Tatum (Sky Sports Speedway)

Speedway highlight of the year

It's been quite a good season for a few reasons. Domestically, my highlight would have to be Swindon winning the Elite League for the first time since 1967. It was a really historic moment and a terrific effort from them. They'd come close a lot of times but this time they weren't to be denied as they beat the champions, Poole, at their place, so that's definitely my domestic highlight.

Internationally, for Chris Holder to win his first world title in the manner he did was just fantastic. He was under massive pressure going into the last round and he answered all the questions and the pressure applied to him by the three-time world champion Nicki Pedersen. I think Chris can take enormous credit and satisfaction for the style with which he won that title.

Other sporting highlight of the year

It's got to be Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France. I do a bit of cycling myself just to stay fit and although unfortunately cycling is shrouded in all sorts of controversy at times, I think that Team Sky cycling have made a positive impact on the sport and that Wiggins' performance this year was just outstanding for obvious reasons.

Sir Ian Botham (Sky Sports Cricket)

Cricket highlight of the year

Let's hope England have ended 2012 as they mean to go on, particularly with the Ashes on the horizon. Their Test series victory over India was the perfect finish to a year that began with that 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Pakistan in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. But the way they came back after losing in Ahmedabad by nine wickets was superb.

Alastair Cook has proved that he's strong enough as captain to be his own boss, while as a batsman he's a run-machine who adapts to the conditions and could go on to break any record he wants. Playing in India is hard work - conditions are unfriendly for bowlers and it's tough for batsmen to concentrate - but England outshone India in every area of fitness. The bowlers, in particular James Anderson, Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, did wonders.

Other sporting highlight of the year

It has to be the Ryder Cup! This year's tournament was enthralling from start to finish - particularly on that final Sunday, when I honestly didn't know which match to watch. It was great drama and a fantastic team effort and contributions from people like Paul Lawrie, who beat Brandt Snedeker 5&3, shouldn't be forgotten.

Sticking with golf, I've got to mention 'the Big Easy', Ernie Els, coming back to defy the odds and win his second Open title, this time at Royal Lytham & St Annes. There weren't many who gave him much of a chance at the start of the fourth round - he was six shots back - but you should never write Ernie off. His win proved that class is permanent and he was gracious in victory to Adam Scott, who came unstuck down the final stretch.

Peter Beagrie (Sky Sports Football)

Football highlight of the year

Chelsea's amazing triumph in the Champions League, and the drama of Man City pipping Man United to the Premier League title by a matter of seconds, after each team had, at one stage, been eight points ahead of the other, were special.

But Bradford's win over Arsenal in the Capital One Cup quarter-finals cannot, for me, be surpassed footballing-wise. It had more than just giant-killing implications and will help keep a club I hold close to my heart safe and secure.

Other sporting highlight of the year

I loved the Olympics and the way, for a few weeks, the negativity was dimmed and there was a real feel-good factor. There is a lot of pressure on people to bring the kids up right and earn a living but the Olympics put smiles on people's faces, with Brit's taking animatedly about the success of Bradley Wiggins, Jessica Ennis and the like.

We then saw a really successful Paralympics, too, which had been catapulted into the public eye by the buzz from the Olympics. If you throw the Ryder Cup into the mix, it has been a terrific year for sport and something we will probably never see again - but imagine if we did.

Mark Petchey (Sky Sports Tennis)

Tennis highlight of the year

I was commentating when Andy Murray won the US Open final to claim his first major which, from a personal point of view, couldn't have been any better! I first saw Andy playing in a Futures event in Edinburgh when he was 16 and then got the chance to work with him a couple of years later, so to see him fulfil his potential and clinch that first Grand Slam was particularly special. The fact that the US Open was the first Grand Slam that Andy and I worked together gave everything a nice symmetry.

Andy couldn't have come up against a tougher hard-court opponent in the final than Novak Djokovic, so the manner of his five-set win was exceptional - particularly as it was the last major of 2012; if he hadn't won it, the weight of expectation on his shoulders, plus the debate about whether he'd ever win a major, would have grown.

Other sporting highlight of the year

I love watching F1 and Christian Horner, the Team Principal of Red Bull racing, is a family friend so I was glued to what was a phenomenally-competitive Brazilian GP. Given the way the season had gone, and that the title was at stake, the race certainly didn't disappoint - it was one of the most dramatic I've seen.

I couldn't quite believe it when Sebastian Vettel crashed on turn four and Fernando Alonso, another phenomenal driver, then went off the track at the start of lap five. Every time you thought the race was going to go one way it suddenly swung the other. From a Red Bull fan's point of view it was good to see Michael Schumacher allow Vettel through near the end (I don't think Michael has done that too many times in his career) to claim his third world title. What Christian has achieved at Red Bull in such a short period of time is magnificent.

Johnny Nelson (Sky Sports Boxing)

Boxing highlight of the year

It was without doubt Carl Froch beating Lucian Bute in Nottingham over the summer. I didn't think Carl had it in him to put in a performance like that and completely dominate an unbeaten world champion, even though, and I have to give credit to him for it, Glenn McCrory did.

Carl is an original caveman and I think he has realised that as he is coming to the end of his career - and that one more loss could be curtains - he is now going to leave everything in the ring and give it his all. He certainly did that against Bute.

Other sporting highlight of the year

Usain Bolt went into the Olympic 100m final with a lot of people wondering if his fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake would beat him and some others expecting him to - but Usain was having none of it. He flew down the straight to retain his Olympic title and wow us all again. Blake was a real danger man but Bolt saw him off to prove that he is a true champion, as well as a character who brings glitz, glamour and razzamatazz to his sport.

Ed Chamberlin (Sky Sports Football)

Football highlight of the year

As a football presenter, the moment of the year has to be Sergio Aguero's goal on the final day of the season to win the title for Manchester City. It was a huge thrill to be at the Etihad Stadium presenting the game on Super Sunday and Martin Tyler's iconic commentary made it all the more special.

Other sporting highlight of the year

In terms of overall sporting moments, it's certainly been a vintage sporting year and the final day of the Ryder Cup will live long in the memory. It was non-stop drama from start to finish, right up until Martin Kaymer's winning putt.

Jamie Redknapp, Michael Atherton and Stuart Barnes share their Moments of 2012 in the first edition of our sporting highlights feature... Click here to read more .

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