From Lionesses joy to Djokovic deportation, the best and worst of 2022 in sport

England celebrate their victory at Euro 2022 (Jonathan Brady/PA). (PA Wire)
England celebrate their victory at Euro 2022 (Jonathan Brady/PA). (PA Wire)

It has been another astonishing year of sporting drama, featuring triumphs for England’s women footballers and the men’s cricketers, a dramatic schism in men’s professional golf and Novak Djokovic being deported from Australia.

Here, the PA news agency looks back on five of the best and worst sporting moments of 2022.

Best moments

Lionesses win Euros

England’s Euro 2022 dream became reality after Chloe Kelly’s extra-time finish saw the Lionesses beat Germany 2-1 and secure the first major trophy in their history in front of a record-breaking crowd at Wembley. Kelly prodded past Merle Frohms in the 110th minute to restore the hosts’ lead after fellow substitute Ella Toone’s wonderful lobbed opener just after the hour mark. Eight-time champions Germany equalised with 11 minutes of normal time remaining through Lina Magull and the game looked on course for a penalty shoot-out until Kelly secured a first major trophy for a senior England side since the men’s 1966 World Cup triumph over West Germany.

England win T20 World Cup

Ben Stokes once again delivered under pressure as England were crowned T20 World Cup champions with a nail-biting five-wicket win over Pakistan at the MCG. On a bowler-friendly pitch, Stokes anchored a chase of 138 with an over to spare with 52 not out from 49 balls as England became the first men’s side to hold ODI and T20 World Cups simultaneously. Stokes banished memories of the 2016 final against the West Indies- when he was clattered for four successive sixes in the final over – retaining his composure despite the tricky surface to steer England home. Sam Curran had earlier taken three for 12 and there were two wickets apiece for Adil Rashid and Chris Jordan to restrict Pakistan to 137 for eight.

Winter Olympics curling gold and silver

A day after Great Britain’s men had to settle for silver, Eve Muirhead led the women’s team to Olympic gold in Beijing. Twenty years after Rhona Martin slid her final stone down in Salt Lake City, Muirhead and team-mates Vicky Wright, Jennifer Dodds, Hailey Duff and alternate Mili Smith swept to an emphatic 10-3 win over Japan. A pair of positive Covid tests prior to the final qualifiers almost derailed preparations, and their stuttering progress through the round-robin phase left them on the brink of elimination. But three days after they were forced to rely on two other results and a 10cm advantage in the pre-match draw shot challenge simply to stay in the tournament, Muirhead led her team to glory.

Matt Fitzpatrick wins US Open

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A month after narrowly missing out on a play-off for the US PGA Championship, Matt Fitzpatrick made certain of his maiden major title and a historic double in the 122nd US Open at Brookline. Fitzpatrick carded a closing 68 to finish a shot ahead of Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler, joining 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win the US Amateur and US Open on the same course. Nicklaus did so at Pebble Beach in 1961 and 1972, while Fitzpatrick won the US Amateur at Brookline in 2013, the same year Justin Rose became the last Englishman to win the US Open at Merion.

Ronnie O’Sullivan wins seventh world snooker title

An emotional Ronnie O’Sullivan shrugged off a stirring fightback from Judd Trump to claim a record-equalling seventh World Snooker title at the Crucible. O’Sullivan had seen a seven-frame overnight lead reduced to three by Trump in the afternoon session before recovering to win 18-13. O’Sullivan shared a lingering embrace lasting more than a minute with Trump after getting over the line with a break of 83, before also greeting his children who ran into the arena to share his moment. With victory the 46-year-old matched Stephen Hendry’s modern day record and surpassed Ray Reardon to become the oldest world champion in history.

Worst moments

Djokovic deported

The year began with an extraordinary story in Melbourne, where Novak Djokovic arrived to begin his bid for a 10th Australian Open title, only to end up being deported from the country. Djokovic believed he had the correct paperwork to enter the country, despite not having been vaccinated against Covid-19, but was detained at the airport and taken to an immigration hotel. Immigration minister Alex Hawke cancelled Djokovic’s visa on the notion that the Serbian’s presence in the country could stoke anti-vaccination sentiment, making him a danger to public health, as well as the potential for civil unrest. Djokovic took his case to the Federal Court of Australia but failed to get the decision overturned.

Kamila Valieva saga

The Winter Olympics were overshadowed by the saga surrounding 15-year-old skater Kamila Valieva, who had been the focus of extraordinary attention since her positive drugs test was revealed the day after she helped Russia win the team event. Her automatic provisional suspension was lifted by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, whose decision was effectively upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, despite an appeal led by the International Testing Agency. Nine days after being notified of the failed test, Valieva fell twice and made a series of errors in the women’s free skate to fall from first place to fourth. That at least meant the medal ceremony could take place, the International Olympic Committee having previously said it would be delayed pending the result of the investigation into Valieva’s positive test should she finish in the top three.

LIV golf creates schism in men’s golf, Stenson pays big price

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LIV Golf only staged its first event in June, but the Saudi-funded breakaway instantly caused an unprecedented schism in the men’s professional game. Players competing in the inaugural event were instantly banned by the PGA Tour and it was not long before lawsuits began flying, with Ian Poulter, Adrian Otaegui and Justin Harding getting their suspensions from the DP World Tour put on hold to play in the Scottish Open. A week later Cameron Smith won the Open and reacted angrily in his winner’s press conference to being asked about a possible move to LIV, only to duly join the following month. Henrik Stenson also jumped ship and was stripped of the Ryder Cup captaincy, while Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have called for LIV CEO Greg Norman to step down and for lawsuits to be dropped in order to negotiate some sort of settlement.

Armbands row at World Cup

The early stages of the World Cup in Qatar were dominated by off-field issues, with a last-minute ban on alcohol sales at stadiums and seven European nations, including England and Wales, abandoning plans to wear a rainbow-coloured armband as part of an anti-discrimination campaign in Qatar after FIFA threatened them with sporting sanctions. Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham said the threatened disciplinary action was “unlimited” and that five FIFA officials had given the England camp just 10 minutes’ notice of the possible sanctions ahead of their opening group game against Iran.

Champions League final almost results in tragedy

Losing to Real Madrid for the second time in five years was hugely disappointing for Liverpool fans, but a genuine tragedy almost occurred as fans attempted to get into the Stade de France. Supporters were directed through an underpass in which police had parked vans to restrict the flow further and, with local youths climbing the fence to gain entry, a decision was taken to temporarily close entry gates before riot police were deployed to pepper spray and tear gas fans. UEFA blamed the delay on late arrival of fans and thousands of fake tickets, claims it later retracted. An independent inquiry later found Liverpool supporters were subjected to treatment that “constituted criminal assault”.