2016’s most in­spir­ing sports mo­ments

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

We watch sports to see who wins and loses, but also to be in­spired - and 2016 of­fered plenty of ex­am­ples of the lat­ter, from a touch­ing mo­ment be­tween two strangers on the Olympic track, to a lit­tle boy from a war-torn land who met his fa­vorite soc­cer player, to a warm ova­tion fu­eled by em­pa­thy for a vis­it­ing NHL goalie. Mo­ments and feel­ings that will be re­called more vividly than any num­bers on a re­sult sheet or etched in bright lights on a score­board. There were ath­letes and coaches whose sto­ries touched us, as well as folks con­nected to the sports world who con­trib­uted their own up­lift­ing vi­gnettes.

One ex­am­ple: When side­line re­porter Craig Sager died from leukemia this month, there were heart­felt trib­utes tinged with sad­ness, of course, but also re­mem­brances that spread the pos­i­tive mes­sage he of­fered as he con­tin­ued to cover the NBA and col­lege bas­ket­ball de­spite his ill­ness. “Man, life is too beau­ti­ful, too won­der­ful. There’s just too many things,” Sager said in Au­gust. “It’s not just you. It’s your fam­ily and kids and all. Fight. Fight un­til the end. Fight as hard as you can.” Some in­spir­ing sports mo­ments dur­ing the past year:

Lend­ing a hand

Dur­ing a qual­i­fy­ing heat for the 5,000 me­ters at the Rio Games, Abbey D’Agostino of the US and Nikki Ham­blin of New Zealand got their feet tan­gled, send­ing both sprawl­ing. D’Agostino got up and, in­stead of try­ing to get her­self back into the race, crouched down, helped Ham­blin rise and whis­pered, “Get up. We have to fin­ish this.” Turned out both were in­jured - D’Agostino could barely move by race’s end and needed a wheelchair - but they crossed the line. Then they hugged. Long-time friends? Hardly. “That girl is the Olympic spirit, right there,” Ham­blin said. “I’ve never met her be­fore. Like, I never met this girl be­fore. And isn’t that just so amaz­ing? Such an amaz­ing woman.” Even Olympic of­fi­cials were moved by the episode , award­ing both run­ners berths in the fi­nal.

Meet­ing Messi

First, Mur­taza Ah­madi, a 5-year-old from Afghanistan, was pho­tographed wear­ing a plas­tic bag fash­ioned into a makeshift Lionel Messi uni­form - blue and white stripes, like Ar­gentina’s na­tional team; Messi’s name and num­ber writ­ten in black marker. The im­age be­came an in­ter­net sen­sa­tion. Later, Mur­taza got to walk with Messi onto the field be­fore an exhibition game. When it was time for the kick­off, Mur­taza did not want to leave his new pal’s side.

Sa­lut­ing an op­po­nent

Takes some­thing spe­cial for sup­port­ers of one team to salute a player for an op­po­nent that won a game, and that’s what hap­pened early in the NHL sea­son in Ed­mon­ton. The Oil­ers’ fans gave Sen­a­tors goalie Craig An­der­son a stand­ing ova­tion he made 37 saves for a shutout in Ottawa’s 2-0 vic­tory over Ed­mon­ton - his first start since learn­ing his wife had been di­ag­nosed with cancer.

Si Se Puede!

Vi­brant chants of “Si se puede!” res­onated around Rio’s main ten­nis sta­dium as Puerto Rico’s un­seeded Mon­ica Puig beat Ger­many’s An­gelique Ker­ber - who would win two Grand Slam ti­tles in 2016 and take over the No. 1 rank­ing - to be­come her is­land na­tion’s first gold medal­ist in any Olympic sport. As the Puerto Ri­can an­them echoed around an Olympic arena and spec­ta­tors belted out the lyrics, Puig was un­able to join in for one sim­ple rea­son: too many tears. “If I would’ve stopped cry­ing,” Puig said, “I prob­a­bly would have started singing.”

Go, Cubs, go

The Chicago Cubs’ first World Se­ries cham­pi­onship in more than a cen­tury was a big deal to many long-suf­fer­ing fans - and pro­vided a way for some to re­con­nect spir­i­tu­ally with lost loved ones who never got to see Wrigleyville turn into Title­town. Wayne Wil­liams kept a pledge he and his fa­ther made to each other and shared a mo­ment they’d both been wait­ing for all their lives. Wil­liams drove from North Carolina to his fa­ther’s gravesite in In­di­ana to lis­ten on the ra­dio “to­gether” as the Cubs beat the Cleve­land In­di­ans in Game 7.

Break­ing records af­ter cancer

Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh run­ning back was di­ag­nosed with Hodgkin lym­phoma in 2015, went through more than five months of drain­ing treat­ment, then re­turned to col­lege foot­ball this year and wound up break­ing At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence records for ca­reer touch­downs and run­ning TDs. Now he’s headed to the NFL. —AP

PITTS­BURGH: In this Oct 27, 2016, file photo, Pitts­burgh’s James Con­ner (24) cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing a touch­down against Vir­ginia Tech dur­ing an NCAA col­lege foot­ball game.

RIO DE JANEIRO: In this Aug 13, 2016, file photo, Mon­ica Puig, of Puerto Rico, cries af­ter win­ning the gold medal match in the women’s ten­nis com­pe­ti­tion at the 2016 Sum­mer Olympics.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.