2012 - The Greatest Sporting Year

Paul Merson remembers a staggering Premier League finale, Nasser Hussain bigs up Chris Gayle and Rob Lee praises GB's golden girl...

Last Updated: 24/12/12 11:32am

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Paul Merson (Sky Sports Football)

Football highlight of the year

It has to be Man City winning the league. For that to happen like that was unbelievable. I played in 1989 when Arsenal won the league at Liverpool and you'd think that would never happen again. That was different because the two teams that were in it were against each other, but this year was unbelievable. I remember my reaction on Soccer Special - and I've seen it enough times because people have showed it to me. If you love football and you're not a Man United fan then you couldn't help but do what I did. It was just phenomenal.

Other sporting highlight of the year

I didn't really see a lot of the Olympics because I was in America, so I'll say the Ryder Cup was the best away from football. I played in a team sport all my life, so I've got to go for a team sport! I always watch the Ryder Cup and for Europe to come back from where they did was unbelievable. When individual players have to come together it's even harder. It was all over, but everything went right.

Barry Cowan (Sky Sports Tennis)

Tennis highlight of the year

It has to be Andy Murray winning the US Open. It was fantastic to see how everything came together and how he developed mentally throughout the event, which climaxed in him getting that monkey of his back and becoming the first British man in 76 years to win a Grand Slam singles title. Andy has taken a few hits along the way but he has shown how resilient he is by the amount of times he has responded to setbacks. He richly deserved that title.

Other sporting highlight of the year

It would have to be that stunning half-hour on the first Saturday inside the Olympic Stadium at London 2012, when Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah each won Olympic gold. I can't imagine what it was like to have been in the arena, but even watching it on TV gave me goosebumps because the atmosphere was electric; the crowd backed the athletes and they responded. British competitors having success like that is what we dreamed about when we knew we were going to stage the Olympics and for me it was the most memorable moment of a wonderful Games - and probably the last 50 years of sport.

Brian Carney (Sky Sports Rugby League)

Rugby league highlight of the year

My Super League highlight was the Grand Final. The regular season was for me in the "must do better" category but the play-offs started slowly and finished with a great Grand Final. It showcased two of the teams that are amongst the "healthier" teams on and off the field. Could Leeds repeat 2011's dramatic last six weeks for them where again they provided the magic to end an otherwise average season or would Warrington, the points record breakers of 2011 and a powerhouse of 2012, cap a wonderful few years for the club with a win in a first Old Trafford Grand Final? Leeds, as we know, did it again and it was not something I could see coming. I thought their champions in a champion side would make it a close game but I thought the Wolves would hit their straps after halftime and kick on. I was wrong and Leeds have in my eyes established themselves as Super Leagues greatest club on and off the field.

Other sporting highlight of the year

In a year of Olympic nirvana for Great Britain my highlight comes from one of the Olympic participants but not for his glory at the Games. I remember sitting on a bus in Galway in 1987 when news came through on the radio about Stephen Roche winning the Tour de France and that still goes down as one of Ireland's greatest ever sporting achievements. I have since learned about the efforts that go into winning that event and it is day after day of physical and mental torture in front of millions. Rugby league lasts for 80 minutes and you usually get five days or more between games. Putting the physical pain aside in sport, I admire the cyclists climbing back on the bike each morning and doing it all again. Bradley Wiggins brought a smile to my face this summer and I wasn't alone. What he did on the roads of France and how he carried himself after victory makes his win my sporting moment of 2012.

Nasser Hussain (Sky Sports Cricket)

Cricket highlight of the year

I'm going for the West Indies and their World Twenty20 victory - not just the win itself and their fantastic reaction to claiming the title, but their whole approach to the competition. Chris Gayle is a legend - he's cool at the crease and even cooler away from it - and his influence brought the best out of a very dynamic team packed with gun-players. They didn't just thump Australia in the semi-final - they walloped them, scoring over 200 - and then managed to defend 137 in the final thanks to Marlon Samuels' explosive 78 and some decent spin bowling. Cue massive celebrations - the most memorable of the year, Gayle leading his team in a Gangnam-style victory dance, with some push-ups thrown in for good measure. Legendary!

Other sporting highlight of the year

Perhaps it hasn't been one of Arsenal's finest years but that doesn't mean there haven't been some great moments and November's North London derby at the Emirates was definitely one of them! Emmanuel Adebayor committed an early blemish (putting Spurs ahead) but then got himself sent off to initiate a marauding Gunners onslaught that swept Spurs away. If anything, the final 5-2 scoreline flattered the visitors. Theo Walcott was exceptional throughout - I'm pretty sure that's the word Arsene Wenger used - and capped a great day off with the fifth. Vintage stuff! Just one more thing - watch out for Arsenal in the Champions League in 2013!

David Jones (Sky Sports Football)

Football highlight of the year

On a night off from working on football there's nothing I enjoy more than... going to football, it's actually a rare treat. In 2012, a chilly April night at Stamford Bridge was just that. Kings of Europe Barcelona were expected to laud it down the Kings Road but Chelsea had other ideas. With a place in the Champions League final to play for they soaked up all Barca could throw at them. It was football at its unpredictable best. And even in defeat Leo Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta are three maestros I will never tire of watching.

Other sporting highlight of the year

This was the year that, in many respects, football watched from the sidelines as we found ourselves glued to tennis, athletics, rowing and, in increasing numbers, cycling. It's almost futile to pick one moment above all else in 2012 but on a personal note my night in the Olympic Stadium will take some beating. I took my 70-year-old mum and fiancée to see David Rudisha sprint two laps of the track for gold in the 800m and witness Usain Bolt beat all-comers at the 200m in the blink of an eye. The occasion, the location, the atmosphere, the history ... as my mum said "once in a lifetime."

Rob Lee (Sky Sports Golf)

Golf highlight of the year

The Ryder Cup was a sensational tournament with ebbs, flows, and ultimately a European victory. Ian Poulter's heroics on the Saturday, and Justin Rose's monster putt against Phil Mickelson on the Sunday were highlights but Martin Kaymer's decisive putt was THE moment for me. The German had not been in great shape form-wise and would have had memories of when Bernhard Langer missed from five feet at Kiawah Island in 1991 as Europe lost the trophy. But he stayed calm and sunk it - even though I thought he would get closer to the hole in the first place!

Other sporting highlight of the year

There was a lot of pressure on Jessica Ennis going into the Olympics as she was the poster girl and everyone wondered if she had it, but after she blasted the field away in her first heptathlon event, the 100metre hurdles - when she recorded a time that would have won gold in the individual hurdles at Beijing in 2008 - she put any doubts to bed. She eventually won gold on 'Super Saturday' but that 12.54 seconds of exertion in the hurdles blew me away.

Guillem Balague (Sky Sports Spanish Football)

Football highlight of the year

Spain winning the Euros this summer has to be my highlight. There was the need to show the world that Spain could raise their game when they needed to, as far too many people found a stick to hit Spain with (the boring tag) which surprisingly enough was used even by well-known people in the game. What was actually happening was that the team was in desperately poor form and took possession as a way of defending, too. But against Italy we all met again in the same forum - the one that thinks there is something special about this Spanish national team

Other sporting highlight of the year

The Olympic Games in London brought forward the best that this amazing country can offer - diversity, music, good vibes and organisation. I could have picked a few moments from those Games but I will stick with the general perception that if some people were a bit less pessimistic about the UK they would realise we live in, share or commute to one of the best countries in the world.

For an in-depth look at the highlights of the year, tune in to 2012 - The Greatest Sporting Year, 11am, Christmas Day, Sky Sports 1 HD or catch one of the many repeats.

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