A new year provides the new prospect of outstanding sporting moments as we reflect on 2021 and look forward to 2022.
As the world began to recover again, 2021 saw the sporting world face new challenges and athletes battle against adversity to follow their dreams. Young sports stars made breakthrough performances, sporting greats competed for the last time, and across the globe, nations, competitors and sports fans banded together more than ever before to make the dreams of many come true after a turbulent couple of years. It was the return of major sporting events during the summer months that made 2021 a year to remember, as societal boundaries were pushed to breaking point, but above all, the mental health and rights of athletes were placed at the forefront of every discussion. With all that said, a new year offers new opportunities for sporting excellence in every capacity, so here is some of what 2022 holds in store (without even scratching the surface!).
Having been postponed a year, the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan created some memorable moments and outstanding performances against all odds. For some, the pandemic had provided an opportunity for growth and development, whilst for others, it was a battle against injury and health to have one last chance at Olympic glory. However, there’s another shot at the Olympic dream on the way. At the beginning of February, we’ll see another selection of athletes compete for gold across a variety of sports as the Winter Olympics and Paralympics kick off in Beijing, China. This year, Team GB is planning on sending a squad of around 50 athletes to the Games, including Perthshire born Eve Muirhead, who will be competing in her fourth Winter Olympic Games. There are high hopes for a record-breaking performance for Great Britain as they aim to have their most successful Winter Olympics of all time if they surpass the five medals won at Sochi 2014 and Pyeongchang 2018. The Winter Olympics will run from 4-20 February with the Winter Paralympics from 4-13 March.
“For some, the pandemic had provided an opportunity for growth and development, whilst for others, it was a battle against injury and health to have one last chance at Olympic glory.”
In 2021, the Men’s Euro 2020 provoked conversation up and down the country, as the football world battled against racism, grief and disappointment. Fans supported their countries through and through, and we were all taught the importance of respect and understanding, despite our differences. This summer, the spotlight is being shone on the women, as England hosts the Women’s Euro 2022. England is hoping to one better the men and take the title for the first time, whilst Northern Ireland has qualified for their first-ever Women’s Euro. The matches will take place from 6-31 July.
Falling on the same year as the Winter Olympics, the action-packed summer will continue as the Commonwealth Games also arrive in England, for the third time since they began. Birmingham will play host to top-performing athletes from countries around the world, such as Australia, South Africa and Canada, as they compete in a range of sports. For the first time in history, the schedule features more medal events for women than men, as well as a fully integrated Para-sport programme. Team Scotland have already announced athletes with high medal hopes for the Games, including UofG alumni Laura Muir and four-time Olympic medalist in Tokyo Duncan Scott. With Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland all competing as individual nations, it’ll be a chance for upcoming sporting stars to make their debuts on the senior stage. The excitement commences on 28 July before coming to a close on 8 August.
“Team Scotland have already announced athletes with high medal hopes for the Games, including UofG alumni Laura Muir and four-time Olympic medalist in Tokyo Duncan Scott.”
The year draws to a close in October and November with the Men’s Rugby League World Cup. Delayed a year, the Men’s Rugby World Cup adds yet another large-scale event to England’s sporting calendar, as England hope that the home advantage will help them to seal the victory, having been beaten by Australia in 2017. Meanwhile, the women will be travelling to New Zealand to compete in the Women’s Rugby Union World Cup.
Finally, the year is rounded up by the Men’s Football World Cup in Qatar. Already surrounded by controversy, the event promises to highlight the best that football has to offer and provide history and moments that will last a lifetime. With qualifiers taking place throughout the year, there is still hope for Scotland fans wanting to see their country shine on an international stage once again after a somewhat successful season. But perhaps most importantly, this FIFA World Cup is destined to spark a change in the sporting world as world-renowned footballers voice their opinion and stand up for what they believe in.
It has taken a long time for the sporting world to catch up with the beliefs held elsewhere in society, but finally there is progress being made. Athletes are no longer forced to give off this invincible facade and an emphasis has been placed on the emotional and mental aspects of competitive and professional sport. 2021 began to change the face of sport, but 2022 has the potential to be outstanding on all fronts.