Shining moments in the world of sports in 2019

Captivating the hearts of many, the realm of sports has made an impact that has resonated all around the globe—records were broken, rising stars took center stage, and new legacies were forged. With a year full of iconic and history-defining moments, the world has witnessed yet another revolutionary year for sports. 

With 2019 drawing to a close, The LaSallian takes a look back at some of the most memorable sports moments that transpired this past year, from stirring heartaches to illustrious triumphs.

Clawing the Golden Gate Bridge

On the 14th of June, the Toronto Raptors shocked basketball fans all over the globe as they achieved an extraordinary feat of winning their first ever National Basketball Association (NBA) championship, becoming the only franchise outside the United States to claim the title. In the six-game finals series, the Raptors ousted the dynasty-seeking Golden State Warriors, who had been heavily favored to defend their title at the start of the season. Green Archer Joaquin Manuel describes this moment as incredible, expressing, “They shook the world with what they accomplished by beating a team who won two championships straight.”

In the middle of the series, the Warriors lost two key cogs in Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant—suffering from a torn ACL, which is a common knee injury among athletes, and a ruptured Achilles tendon, respectively. In Manuel’s opinion, these setbacks cost the Warriors the series. “[Durant] before the injury [was] the best offensive player in the league, which makes him a threat in and out of the paint. He’s so versatile that no one in the league can stop him—losing [Durant equates to] losing the [championship],” he explains. No matter the circumstances of the matchup, however, the Raptors still turned heads, as masterful performances by their players led to relatively one of the biggest upsets in the NBA’s history.

Victories on and off the pitch

Having won four FIFA Women’s World Cup crowns, the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) cemented themselves as one of the greatest in international women’s football, after they defeated the Netherlands, 2-0, in their title defense last July 7. As members of the team were receiving their gold medals, chants calling for “equal pay” filled the whole stadium. 

Lady Booter Yssa Echeverria, who has been “watching [the USWNT] for the longest time”, emphasizes that the victory meant more than the title alone—winning on the world stage also offered a platform for airing advocacies. “[That] win [became] even more important because [the USWNT] have been fighting for equal pay,” she discusses. “[It] gave them a voice; with people all over the world supporting [the team], they understand that their fight doesn’t end [inside] the pitch—it continues outside as well.”

Echeverria further shares how the USWNT’s historic dominance in the sport has had an impact on herself as a football player. “They made women athletes feel strong, supported, cool, and most importantly, they never fail to remind us that anything is possible,” she concludes. 

Angel in their midst

Right at the start of July, an unexpected event shook the core of baseball team Los Angeles Angels—the passing of Tyler Skaggs. As a lifelong fan of the Angels, Green Batter Julio Arrastia describes Skaggs’ value to the team as being “one of the more reliable pitchers in a notoriously thin starting rotation.” Aside from being a stable and skilled player to have on the mound, Skaggs was also one who acted like glue to hold the team together.

In the aftermath of Skaggs’s death, the Angels achieved a rare feat in Major League Baseball. Coming back from the All-Star break, the team threw a combined no-hitter—disallowing the opposing team’s batters from recording any hits in the nine-inning game—accomplishing a feat that sports fans rarely witness. 

As Arrastia remarks, “It takes a lot out of a person to take the field after losing someone very close to them. [Throwing] a no-hitter while scoring 13 runs just showed that everyone [on the Angels team] came to play despite the pain they were feeling.” 

It was more than just a game; the bittersweet series of events immortalized the late Skaggs’s legacy, the five-game winning streak becoming a symbol of tribute to their former pitcher. 

Ushering in a new era 

This year’s edition of the US Open saw drama like no other. Nineteen-year old Bianca Andreescu served Serena Williams to become the first Canadian Grand Slam Champion in the singles category. On the other hand, Rafael Nadal sealed his 19th major title as he defeated the young Daniil Medvedev in five sets. 

In the clash between established veterans and rising stars, the women’s and men’s divisions may have had contrasting results, but Green Tennister Miguel Gran believes the highlight of the tournament was the dawn of a new era. “What generated a lot [of] discussion in the tournament are the younger generation players making it to the finals; both divisions [had matchups] playing against experienced Grand Slam Champions,” he notes.

Furthermore, Gran shares that Andreescu’s achievement urges a younger generation of players to aim for greater heights, while Nadal’s long-lasting career inspires other players to continue persevering and to not give up. “The next generation of players are making a great transition from the juniors to the [professional] scene, and they’re [just] getting better and better,” the Lasallian explains. 

Chasing a legend, closing in on records

Race car driver Lewis Hamilton seized his sixth Formula One (F1) World Championship last November 3 in the United States Grand Prix. As someone who has “witnessed every year of [Hamilton’s] career”, Green Booter John Euzziah Ong and many other longtime supporters still marvel at the racer’s victory. 

“I felt pretty amazed because I had to double check how far he was to [Michael] Schumacher in terms of his championships, and that kid really [isn’t] far away,” he expresses.

As far as legends go, Schumacher rules the tracks with his seven championship wins—Hamilton is just a title away from matching that feat. “[By] the looks of his performance and the development and management of his team, he’s gonna blow by it without a doubt,” affirms Ong regarding Hamilton’s chances of tying or even surpassing Schumacher’s record. 

Hamilton has certainly made a name for himself, becoming a staple behind the wheel and speeding a long way from his beginnings in 2007. “I can remember his rookie year and the exact F1 magazine issue I had with his face on the cover,” the Green Booter reminisces. “[When] he barely lost the Drivers Championship on his rookie year, I knew he was something special. And he surely didn’t disappoint.”

Embedded in history

As 2019 draws to a close, the world of sports has experienced a whirlwind of moments—many more than can fit within a single list, with some perhaps affecting individuals more significantly and more personally than others. All in all, these game-changing events have inspired Lasallian athletes and sports fans in general to remember that sports are more than just a game. These moments are culture-defining experiences, impacting past and future generations of athletes as they witness and become a part of history in the making.

Miguel Carlo Gaspar

By Miguel Carlo Gaspar

Andrea Punzalan

By Andrea Punzalan

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