Although the Estonian proverb warns that those who linger on the old things will get their eye poked out, we still would like to do so and look back to the previous year in the first days of 2024. Why? Because so many awesome things happened in the sports year that is behind us!
On June 10th, 2023, Manchester City became only the eighth football club in Europe to win the Champions League (or its predecessor), the domestic Premier League and the domestic cup in the same year.
In the past, the Scottish giant Glasgow Celtic (1967), the Dutch top clubs Amsterdam Ajax (1972) and PSV Eindhoven (1988), the English Manchester United (1999), the Spanish top club FC Barcelona (2009 and 2015), the Italian Milan Inter (2010) and the German Bayern Munich (2013 and 2020) have managed this trick called “the treble”.
However, Pep Guardiola’s guys did not limit themselves to these three trophies this year but added the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup trophy to their trophy cabinet in the fall. In total, since 2016 City has now won 16 trophies under the guidance of the magical Spaniard.
Intermediate fact #1
But before the next date, one significant number: at the end of August last year, 92,003 spectators watched in Lincoln, the capital of the state of Nebraska in the USA, how the women’s volleyball team of the local university played against Omaha volleyball students.
Why is this significant? This is a world record in women’s sports! The previous record was set in 2022 when 91,648 watched the Champions League quarter-final between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Nou Camp.
On June 12th, 2023, the Denver Nuggets finally became the NBA champion. The club, founded in 1967, had de facto reached the finals before, but that was in its last season of the ABA — a parallel series at the time that ran alongside the NBA.
In the NBA, the Nuggets’ highest achievement so far was the conference finals, which they had reached four times, but always lost. However, this year they managed to break this curse, and when they reached the finals, Nikola Jokic led the spectacle that showed the Miami Heat what they are capable of.
Jokic was fully worthy of the MVP of the final series. He spent an average of 41.2 minutes on the court in five games, during which he compiled the following statistics: 30.2 points, 14 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.4 blocks and 0.8 steals. His shooting percentage was just as amazing: 42.1% from threes, 58.3% from twos and 83.8% from the free throw line.
Intermediate fact #2
Before the next date, the next significant number: LeBron James scored 39,406 points in the NBA, making him the all-time leading scorer in the Dream League. Let’s remember that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) topped the scoring list for many years.
On June 13th, 2023, it also became clear that the title of the hockey capital of North America would travel to Las Vegas for the first time when the Golden Knights defeated the Florida Panthers in the fifth game of the NHL finals series.
For the Golden Knights, the fact that they only joined the NHL in 2017, but have been a force to be reckoned with since the beginning, makes the triumph all the more extraordinary. Let’s remember that the Vegas hockey gang immediately reached the Stanley Cup finals in its debut year, but then they lost 1:4 to the Washington Capitals.
This year, this error was amended with force! The Finals MVP award went to Jonathan Marchessault, who scored four goals and set up four more in the Finals. In the playoffs, the Canadian had a total of 25 performance points (13+12).
Intermediate fact #3
Before the next date, the next significant number: in 3.13 seconds, the American Max Park put together a 3x3x3 Rubik’s Cube in June, thus breaking the previous world record held by the Chinese Yusheng Du (3.47).
On September 10th, 2023, Novak Djokovic lifted a record 24th slam trophy. The 36-year-old Serbian defeated Daniil Medvedev 6:3, 7:6 (5), 6:3 in the US Open final, thus becoming the most successful male tennis player of all time.
She can’t be considered the most powerful player of all time, because the legendary Margaret Court also has 24 slam trophies to show for women. At the same time, it seems to be only a matter of time before Djokovic grabs this honorary title as well.
He still has the power and strength, and if motivation is lacking, the Serbian only needs to remember that he has not won all the slam tournaments in one year. Despite coming close many times…
Intermediate fact #4
Before the next date, the next significant number: 2:00.35 is the new men’s marathon world record, held by Kelvin Kiptum since October. The top mark was run at the Chicago Marathon, but in the new year, the Kenyan promised to attempt to break the magical two-hour mark as well.
On October 7th, 2023, Max Verstappen was crowned F1 World Champion for the third time. The Dutchman secured the World Championship title in the sprint race at the Qatar GP, where he finished in the – unusual to him – second position.
Why unusual? Because Verstappen was simply way above the others in the royal series. The Dutchman won 19 out of 22 races and missed the podium only once: at the Singapore GP. Whoever thinks that Red Bull’s pre-eminent driver was worse in sprints, needs to think again. His places were third, first, first, second and first in stages respectively.
In total, Verstappen thus earned 575 points, which marks a new record in the F1 series. At the same time, his lead over the second man in the World Series was written into the records book: he surpassed his teammate Sergio Perez by 290 points at the end of the F1 year!
These were the most important sports facts of the past year. What to expect from the sports year ahead – we will talk about this soon on Olybet.TV.