Lionel Messi to Roger Federer: Top 10 sports personalities of 2022
It was an eventful year for sports in 2022 and several players, teams made their mark on the big stage. During the year, there was the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, T20 World Cup in Australia, FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, and many other tournaments.
Sports personalities from India and other countries shone brightly in 2022 and enthralled their fans.
Here are the top sports personalities who ruled the year in 2022
A long wait finally ended for Lionel Messi and Argentina as they won the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. Messi inspired the team to its third World Cup trophy, defeating France 4-2 (3-3 after extra time) in the final on December 18. Messi set several records during the tournament, including winning the Golden Ball for the second time, the only player to achieve the feat. It was 2022 to remember for Messi and Argentina.
While Messi cherished his dream of lifting the World Cup, there was another legend, from tennis, who made a quiet exit after ruling the sport for two decades. Roger Federer bid adieu to tennis with 20 Grand Slams. He played his last tournament in the Laver Cup in London. His final game was partnering with Rafael Nadal. It was a tearful exit for Federer.
— Laver Cup (@LaverCup) September 24, 2022
Veteran Indian table tennis player Sharath Kamal returned from Birmingham Commonwealth Games as the most-decorated Indian athlete with four medals. And, later became the second table tennis player after Manika Batra to get the Khel Ratna, the highest sporting honour in India. Besides a yellow metal in the mixed doubles, Sharath also pocketed his singles gold after 16 years, the first having won at the 2006 Melbourne CWG. The lanky paddler has claimed a whopping 13 medals from the CWG overall. He also won two bronze medals at the 2018 Asian Games and is now in search of elusive Olympic glory at the 2024 Paris Games.
It was a historic triumph for England in Pakistan as Ben Stokes-led team whitewashed the host 3-0 in the Test series. England’s aggressive approach in the five-day format has resulted in 9 wins out of the last 10 Tests. Prior to winning in Pakistan in December, England clinched the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia with Stokes guiding the team home against Pakistan in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
American golfer Scottie Scheffler had a breakthrough year in 2022. He won four titles including the Masters. The 26-year-old won the WM Phoenix Open in February, then added the Arnold Palmer Invitational, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, and the Masters’ titles in March. He became No. 1 in the Official World Gold Ranking. He is only the fifth golfer to enter the Masters as world No. 1 and win the title. In September, Scheffler was named 2022 PGA Tour Player of the Year.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen set records during the Formula One season this year as the Dutch driver clinched his second world title. He had the most race in a single season – 15 and also won the most points – 454. He pocketed the world title at the Japanese Grand Prix in October with still four races remaining and won three of them including the season-ending one in Abu Dhabi in November.
Indian Nikhat Zareen claimed a hat-trick of gold medals in 2022. She started the year by etching her name in the history books as she became the first Indian boxer to win a second gold medal at the prestigious Strandja Memorial tournament. Once requesting a “fair trial” for a shot at the Olympics, the Telangana boxer replicated her idol Mary Kom’s world championship-winning feat. It was India’s first Worlds title in four years and only the second (after Mary) outside the country. The 26-year-old boxer then entered the Commonwealth Games as a strong medal contender and she didn’t disappoint, clinching the 50kg title. She was honoured with the Arjuna Award.
India’s javelin thrower and Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra won a silver in the World Championships in the USA in July to become only the second Indian after Anju Bobby George — who won a bronze in the 2003 Paris edition — to win a medal at the showpiece. In September, he became the Diamond League champion by winning the Finals of the prestigious meeting series, adding another ‘first’ to his name. Chopra, however, could not defend his Commonwealth Games gold at Birmingham due to the “minor” groin injury he sustained during the World Championships. It was another eventful year for Chopra but he could not breach the 90m mark. He came agonisingly close with his 89.94m throw when he finished second in the Stockholm leg of the prestigious Diamond League.
In October, India’s leading cueist Pankaj Advani claimed his 25th world title after defeating compatriot Sourav Kothari 4-0 in the 150 up billiards final at the World Championships. Advani manoeuvred his cue like a magician’s wand. An elated Advani said, “It’s a dream to defend a world title for five times in a row. Truly pleased with how I’ve played and won every billiards event I participated in this year. Feel honoured to bring to my country yet another gold medal at a world level.”
Ushering in a new era in the country’s sports administration, the legendary PT Usha was in December elected as the first woman president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). The 58-year-old Usha, a multiple Asian Games gold medallist and fourth-place finisher in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics 400m hurdles final, was declared elected unopposed for the top post in the polls. The elections were held under the supervision of Supreme Court-appointed retired SC judge L Nageswara Rao. Usha was also nominated to the Rajya Sabha this year.