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Mark Keohane: The highs and lows of my 2020 sporting year

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IOL Sport writer Mark Keohane looks back at some of the sporting moments, good and bad, that stood out for him in 2020.

Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson with teammates celebrates with the trophy after winning the Premier League. Picture: Pool via Reuters, Paul Ellis, File Photo

Liverpool winning the Premier League. As a long-suffering Liverpool supporter, I thought it was never going to happen. And then when it was a “give me”, Covid-19 struck the planet, shut down football and the wait for the season to restart was agonising.

There was way too much talk of the season being declared void and those who support Manchester United were particularly vocal as to why the season should be ended. Sanity did eventually prevail and Liverpool duly completed their first Premier League title-winning campaign in 30 years. And they did it with seven matches still to play.

BOKS STILL TOPS

The world champion Springboks not being able to play a Test match in 2020, especially in the one year when the All Blacks have looked decidedly second rate and vulnerable. If ever there was a year to do the double over the men in black, it was 2020. The absence of international rugby for the Boks would have stifled the momentum of the monumental World Cup final win against England in 2019.

The upshot of the Boks not playing is that they remain the top-ranked team, but the players will feel that ranking is hollow without having shown their dominance on the field.

MATERA MADNESS

Argentina captain Pablo Matera’s racist and xenophobic tweets that, while written seven years ago, were vile and disgusting. Matera, who was 20 yearsold at the time, disparaged Bolivians and Paraguayans. He described them as “negroes” because of his belief that they were all criminals and badly-educated people and, if so, then they had to be “negro”.

He also tweeted: “Today is a good day to get in the car and drive over blacks”. Matera, who had inspired the Pumas to their first ever win over the All Blacks went from hero to zero.

ARGENTINA ON THE UP

The Pumas’ historic 25-15 win against New Zealand in Australia during the Tri Nations was the on-field “feel good” international rugby story of the year and, for the Pumas, the greatest match in their rugby history.

The Pumas, who had won just four in 35 matches in the Rugby Championship and had won three of their previous 36 matches against tier-one nations, stunned the All Blacks with the most comprehensive display. Pumas flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez scored all 25 points and my favourite meme was that of Sanchez screaming out: “No team beats Argentina 30 times in a row!”

SA CRICKET WILTING

South Africa’s national cricketers were all rhetoric and no action. The Proteas had the most wonderful opportunity to make a statement to SA and the world that black lives matter.

The Proteas had the chance to speak to their playing and supporter demographic to say “we know your story, we hear your story and we want to share your story”.

There are 60 million South Africans, and white SA makes up less than four million of those South Africans. Yet, no Proteas cricketer, regardless of culture, colour or religion, took the knee against England to acknowledge why black lives matter.

@mark_keohane

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