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Rousey knocked out, Barca's treble... 13 moments that defined sports in 2015

Suyash Upadhyaya | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 2:44 IST

Sports have a unique ability to make us cheer, chuckle, cry and scream - and probably all within the space of a few minutes. The year gone by was no different, with incredible storylines that will go down in history.

With lots to choose from, Catch picks 13 highlights from 2015 that best sum up all that was good (and bad) this year.

01
Holly Holm knocks out Ronda Rousey

Probably the biggest shock of the year in sport. Mixed Martial Arts may still command a niche audience, but this upset shook the world.

On 15 November rookie Holm knocked out the unbeaten Rousey in the main event of the Ultimate Fighting Championship 193. And it wasn't a fluke - Holm totally dominated Rousey, that too in record time, to get crowned the bantamweight champion.

02
Barcelona's treble, and more
barca getty images best sporting moments

Photo: Getty Images

What a year it was for Barca! They won La Liga in May, then went on to complete the club's second-ever treble with victories in the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League. And they didn't just stop there - at the start of the 2015-16 season, they won the UEFA Super Cup, and recently, on 20 December, beat River Plate to lift the Club World Cup.

The only trophy they failed to win this year was the Spanish Super Cup. But that leaves something to aspire for. Manager Luis Enrique would be gunning to ensure he can match Pep Guardiola's 2009 record of winning all six trophies on offer in a calendar year with Barca.

03
Chelsea fire their talisman Jose Mourinho again
Jose Marinho Clive Mason/Getty Images best sporting moments

Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Whichever club he goes to, Jose Mourinho brings trophies. He did it with Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, before returning to Stamford Bridge to lead the Blues to the title again.

But the football world is fickle, and under Roman Abramovich, Chelsea have been even more fickle than others. A rough start to the season put Mourinho under threat, and his failure to goad a performance out of his star players led to his axing on 17 December.

Since then, the Portuguese has already been heavily linked to a Manchester United move, and given the club's string of failures under Louis van Gaal, Mourinho may have a new home before the year is out.

04
Kobe Bryant announces his retirement from basketball
kobe bryant retires Nick Laham/Getty Images

Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images

After an illustrious 20-year career, Kobe Bryant announced on 29 November that he will retire at the end of the 2015-16 season.

Bryant, one of the greatest ever to play the game, spent all 20 seasons with the illustrious Los Angeles Lakers franchise, and racked up five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 17 All-Star selections and two Olympic gold medals with the USA men's basketball team. The game will sorely miss him.

05
Australia win their fifth Cricket World Cup
australia cricket win getty images

Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Call India's win in 2011 an aberration, because Australia proved once again that they were the best cricket team in the world - for the fourth time in five World Cups.

It was only fitting that Australia beat fellow hosts New Zealand at the home of cricket in the southern hemisphere, the majestic Melbourne Cricket Ground, on 29 March. Both teams had been head and shoulders above the rest through the tournament, and even though the final was one-sided, it was an exciting tournament nonetheless.

As for India, they can take solace in the fact that they did exceedingly well before a semi-final defeat to the eventual champs.

06
First-ever Day/Night Test match
day0night cricket match 2015 best sporting moments getty images

Photo: Getty Images

Eight months later, the World Cup finalists were part of another slice of history, when they competed in the first Day/Night Test match in history.

The spectacular Adelaide Oval was the venue for the international debut of the pink Kookaburra ball, and the match also lived up to the occasion, producing a low-scoring three-day thriller.

The Aussies won this one too, but more than all else, Test cricket showed it could change to allow more and more fans to enjoy it.

07
Jules Bianchi dies of racing injuries
Jules Bianchi Clive Rose/Getty Images best sporting moments

Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

The 17th of July was the darkest day for Formula One racing in 21 years. On this day, promising young driver Jules Bianchi succumbed to injuries sustained in a crash at the Japanese Grand Prix nine months ago.

The 25-year-old, who drove for the Marussia team, had been in coma after suffering head injuries in a collision with a recovery crane.

Bianchi was the first driver since Ayrton Senna in 1994 to be killed due to injuries sustained at a Grand Prix weekend, and the F1 world mourned the loss of a talented rising star.

08
Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis take the tennis world by storm
sania mirza martina hingis best sporting moments getty images

Photo: Getty Images

It was a great year for Sania. Teaming up with Martina Hingis really pushed her to the top of doubles tennis, as evidenced by her World No.1 ranking.

Sania and Martina won two Grand Slams - Wimbledon and the US Open. Apart from these, they also won seven other WTA titles, including the year-ending WTA Tour Finals, while Sania also won a title in the company of Bethanie Mattek-Sands at the start of the year.

From the start of the US Open in August to the WTA Finals in Singapore in November, Sania and Martina won 22 matches in a row, and at the end of the year, the International Tennis Federation recognised them as the Women's Doubles World Champions of 2015.

09
All Blacks win Rugby World Cup
new zealand rugby team best sporting moments Getty IMages

Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

What Australia are to the Cricket World Cup, New Zealand are to rugby. And what's more, they also perform the traditional 'Haka' war cry before every game, which is a spectacle in itself!

For the second Rugby World Cup in a row (and third overall) the All Blacks dominated and took home the William Webb Ellis Cup.

That this was a defining moment of the year was proved by the BBC, which gave the Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award to All Blacks hero Dan Carter, ahead of the likes of Usain Bolt, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams.

10
Roberta Vinci defeats Serena Williams, then apologises
roberta vinci best sporting moments getty images

Photo: Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Sport is littered with upset victories. But what makes this one memorable is that the underdog actually apologised to the audience.

Unseeded Roberta Vinci beat overwhelming favourite Serena Williams in the semi-finals of the US Open. And then said "Sorry, guys!" to the American crowd, which had been rooting for their compatriot.

But while this humility was what made it memorable, there was also the small matter of beating one of the most successful women's tennis players of all time at age 32. Good on you, Roberta!

11
Saina Nehwal becomes badminton World No.1
sania nehwal getty images best sporting moments

Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images/Falcon

It took years of toil, but finally, Saina Nehwal made it to the top of the world. On 2 April, Saina became the first Indian woman to climb to No.1 in the badminton world rankings, and only the second person from the country after Prakash Padukone.

She stayed at the top for five weeks, and then again for some time in August. But even these short stays proved that the Chinese dominance could be beaten, and that badminton is definitely a sport in which India has a bright future.

12
Blatter and Platini get banned by FIFA
sepp blatter best sporting moments

Photo: Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images

FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA boss Michel Platini were suspended for eight years after being found guilty of exchanging a 'disloyal payment' of 2 million Swiss francs in 2011.

The decision came as a shot in the arm for FIFA, which has been trying to restore its reputation after years of corruption allegations. For billions of fans, this decision has brought new hope - that the governing body of the world's favourite sport can finally get its act together.

UEFA Michel Platini Martin Rose/Getty Images

Platini. Photo: Martin Rose/Getty Images

13
Usain Bolt and Mo Farah win Athletics World Championships
usain bolt best sporting moments Ian Walton/Getty  Images

Photo: Ian Walton/Getty Images

The Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing was where Usain Bolt first caught the public imagination by winning the sprint treble at the 2008 Olympics. Seven years later, after enduring a horrid season and entering the 100m final as a non-favourite, he blitzed his way to yet another World Championship gold.

And then followed it up with two more in the 200m and the 4x100m relay.

Briton Mo Farah also won a double - with wins in the 10,000m and the 5,000m. He won the latter race despite dashing across the track to pick up a cup of water!

In a year where athletics saw the return of the doping menace in a big way, the two legends' triumphs brought the focus back on what's important - real talent and hard work.

mohamed farah britain Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

First published: 25 December 2015, 10:27 IST
 
Suyash Upadhyaya @SuyashU

A believer of the Indian football dream and an ardent cricket fan who likes to explore the nuanced side of all sports, Suyash finds creative expression in sports writing. Lover of literature, Liverpool FC, and an earnest economics enthusiast, he has just joined Catch News after completing his post graduation at Xavier Institute of Communications, Mumbai. When not staying up the whole night watching football, he loves spending time playing the sport itself, reading, and generally wondering when he'll decipher everything about the world around him.

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