High-Fives : London’s Sporting Greats #4

In the penultimate entry of our look at London’s sporting history over the 25 years that we’ve been in business – we’re time-warping back to 2008 to reminisce over the sporting heroes that were wowing us with their superhuman skills – over the Wimbledon net, on the water, in training shoes and studs – in fact using any sports equipment that people regularly need the sort of storage space we offer for…

2008 – The Oldest Boat Race competitor

The 154th Boat Race took place between contestants Oxford and Cambridge. The former won by a significant 6 lengths and their crew featured the oldest competitor in the history of the competition – 36-year-old American  Mike Wherley.

As the London Marathon celebrated 100 years of the modern race – the first was established in London at the 1908 Olympics – Martin Lel won his third title in the men’s elite – setting a course record. With the top six finishers all smashing their personal bests it was a record year as well. In the women’s elite German Irina Mikitenko produced a big upset – winning the event in only her second ever Marathon.

The 2008 FA Cup – the second to be played at the new Wembley Stadium and – as Portsmouth took on Cardiff City – it was also the first time since 1995 that a club outside the Premier League Top 4 had won the contest. A goal for Pompey’s Nwankwo Kanu in the 37th minute.

In Tennis Rafa Nadal was on a bit of a roll. He finally beat Roger Federer in the Men’s singles at Wimbledon taking his 6th title of the year and second grand slam. Over in the ladies final, normal service was resumed, as the Williams sisters battled for the top spot which saw Venus defeating Serena in straight sets to take her 5th Wimbledon win.

2009 – Sister Act II at Wimbledon 

The Boat Race was a thriller. Cambridge took off into a three quarter boat length lead, but after a few oar clashes and umpire warnings around Chiswick Eyot were overhauled by Oxford. The winning time was a respectable 17 minutes and 35 seconds and took the overall tally to 79-75 in Cambridge’s favour.

The London Marathon Women’s Elite was a case of deja-vu – albeit without the surprise of a rank outsider winning the race – as Irina Mikitenko, who over the past year had earned the prestige of being World Number One – retained her crown. In the Men’s Race, Olympic Champion Sammy Wanjiru break 2008’s fastest record by another 5 seconds in a time of 2:05:10, making it the sixth successive Kenyan victory – and a record that made the African nation the most successful in the London event.

In the FA Cup local side Chelsea beat North Western club Everton. Wilfred Zaha put the Toffees ahead in the first minute, but an equalizer 20 minutes later by Didier Drogba paved the way for a come back for the Blues. That came from club favourite Frank Lampard in the 71st minute and Chelsea held on to their 2-1 lead to take the cup.

In the women’s final at Wimbledon the tables were turned from 2008 – 09 turned as Serena Wiliams defeated big sister Venus to take her third Wimbledon title. In the men’s final a run of spectacular form for Roger Federer saw him defeat Andy Roddick and take his 6th Championship win.

2010 – Serena Serene at Wimbledon for eth second year in a row. 

In the Boat Race there was a Social Network connection – the Winklevoss Twins (who claimed Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea from them) – were crew members in the Oxford Boat. Cambridge pulled a win back from their pre-race favourite rival, but not before the Oxfordians making a race of it.  Eventually only succumbing by one and a third-lengths, a relatively close finish in boat race terms.

In the London Marathon, Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede broke Kenya’s grip on the competition winning in a time of 2:05:19 – making the last three races collectively the quickest ever.  In the women’s race, the Russian state-sponsored doping scandal and disqualifications of Liliya Shobukhova and Inga Abitova has since seen Aselefech Mergia – also of Ethiopia – promoted to the first place position.

In the FA Cup, normal service was partly resumed as Premier League Champions Chelsea beat 2009 victors Portsmouth by a single goal – scored by Didier Drogba in the 51st minute. Having also won the Premier League, Chelsea took the fourth ‘double’ in the clubs history.

Roger Federer was unexpectedly knocked out by eventual finalist Thomáš Berdych in the Quarter-finals but lost the final in straight sets to Rafael Nadal. Serena Williams made it two Championships in a row and her 4th Wimbledon title, monstering Zera Zvonareva 6-2, 6-3.

2011 – Kenya Sweep Five from Six across the Elite Marathons

The 157th Boat Race was won by Oxford after another closely fought contest. Oxford initially pulled away, but Cambridge pulled themselves back into contention, another push from Oxford saw them pull clear and draw across in front of their rivals boat and went on to win by 4 lengths.

The Marathon saw Kenya bounce back from their defeat in 2010 – taking all three top spots in the Men’s Elite with Emmanuel Mutai taking first, Martin Lel second and Patrick Makau third. On the women’s course, it was almost the same story, with Kenyans taking the two top spots (but only after another Russian doping disqualification) Mary Keitany from Edna Kiplagat from Bezenush Bekele from Ethiopia taking third.

The FA Cup saw two Northern Clubs head to our nation’s Capital as Man Cty took on the Potters – Stoke City, the only goal from City’s Yaya Touré coming in the 74th minute.

At Wimbledon, it was all change at the top as Novak Djokovic took the men’s final and Petra Kvitová the Women’s – the first time since 2002 there were first time champions in both Singles competitions.

2012 – The Boat Race ruined

The 158th Boat Race had to be stopped part-way through to avoid injury to protestor Trenton Oldfield, who had entered the River and was in danger of being struck.  To that point, it had pretty much stayed neck and neck between the two boats.  An oar clash soon after the restart saw Oxford damage a blade and drop back, Cambridge eventually winning by four-and-a-quarter lengths.

The women’s Elite saw Kenyan Mary Keitany make a successful defence of her 2011 win. It was a double once again for Kenya, as the African long-distance running powerhouse also saw victory in the men’s race.  Wilson Kipsang took victory in the second fastest time ever recorded around the London’s  Landmark course 4 seconds shy of Emmanuel Mutai’s course record.

The 131st FA Cup saw rivals Chelsea and Liverpool pitted against each other at Wembley.  Chelsea went 2-0 up courtesy of Ramirez in the 11th Minute and Drogba in the 52nd. Liverpool’s Carroll pulled one back just 12 minutes after Drogba, but Chelsea held on to take their 7th FA Cup and the double – as they also won the UEFA Champions League.

As the country basked in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and anticipation building for London 2012, normal service resumed as Serena Williams beat Agnieszka Radwánska in the women’s singles whilst Andy Murray became the first British Singles finalist of  Tennis’ modern era, but was defeated in four sets by Roger Federer, taking his seventh title at the Championships – setting the stage for an epic Olympic battle just 5 weeks later.

2012 was, of course, also the Olympic year – where Team GB put in some incredible athletic displays across a huge range of disciplines – including Tennis, Rowing and middle distance running.  We were blogging throughout, and we think it deserves a special look back, so keep an eye out for another reflection on

Well, we haven’t dropped the baton so far and we’re about to begin the final circuit. Tune in shortly for 2013 – 2107, and we might even let you stand up in your seat.