Here we go then. One more lap. It’s time for the fifth and final circuit in our birthday celebration series looking at London’s Sporting Moments from the past 25 years. We’re counting down recent history in the regular global events that the capital plays host to. From the Lawn Tennis Courts of SW1 to the roads of The City and central London. From the flowing western waters of the Thames to Wembley’s stadium in the North West London – we count down recent history from 2013 to 2017…
2013 – A big upset in the FA Cup
The Boat Race – umpired by four times Olympic gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent – saw wintry conditions with high winds and snow flurries. Oxford edged an early lead, which they continued to eek out over the remainder of the course, winning in a time of 17 minutes and 27 seconds and by one and a half boat lengths.
The Marathon saw the classic Kenya vs Ethiopia rivalry rekindled and swing in Ethiopia’s favour as 2010 winner Tsegaye Kebede made a career comeback to win. Meanwhile, in the women’s Elite, Priscah Jeptoo bettered her 2012 result by two places to take her first Marathon title.
At Wembley, the FA Cup was an all north affair, with Manchester City favourites against League One side Wigan Athletic. Wigan pulled off an upset, with Ben Watson scoring in the first minute of added time.
At the All England Tennis Club both defending champions – Roger Federer and Serena Williams were eliminated before the quarter-finals (the first time that had happened since 1927) Britain’s Andy Murray finally clinched his first Wimbledon Championships, whilst Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli comprehensively beat Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-1, 6-4.
2014 -Farah debuts in the London Marathon
On the Thames, the rowers of Oxford and Cambridge met for the 160th edition of the classic competition. A clash of oars saw damage to the Cambridge boat, resulting in a comprehensive win for Oxford – by a massive 11 lengths – to pull one back on the overall total 81 Cambridge – 78 Oxford.
The Marathon, bathed in sunshine, saw the fastest time ever over the London course as Wilson Kipsang of Kenya reinforced his world record holding credentials to accelerate away from compatriot Stanley Biwott over the last mile. Mo Farah – in his much-anticipated marathon debut, finished 8th and one minute outside of his target time. In the women’s Elite Edna Kiplagat beat namesake Florence in the final 200 metres.
The FA Cup at Wembley saw London represented by Arsenal – their 18th FA Cup final appearance, equalling Manchester United’s record – the home side beat Championship challengers Hull City (promoted to the Premier League for the following season) in a 3 -2 goal thriller.
At Wimbledon, there was a big dollop of 2011 deja vu as Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitová being crowned respective singles champions.
2015 – At last, the women’s Boat Race – on equal terms.
It took Boat Race organisers a long time to discover gender equality. 2015 was the first year that the women’s competition took place over the same course on the same day. The women’s race saw Oxford victorious, pulling one back in the overall score – still dominated by Cambridge 41 – 28. The men’s race was a similar story, Oxford won by 6 1/2 lengths. In the men’s competition, Oxford’s run through the late 2000’s and twenty-teens saw the overall pendulum swinging back to a much tighter 81 – 79.
The London Marathon saw Ethiopia’s Tugist Tufa breakaway at 24 miles and surge off to take an unexpected win in the Women’s Elite. The men’s race saw a sprint finish between Kipchoge and Kipsang. Kipchoge, in his debut on the London course, beat the 2014 winner by just 5 seconds at the line.
The FA Cup at Wembley saw the Gunners competing in yet another final – their 19th – giving them the record for the most appearances in the final of the competition. Arsenal thumped Aston Villa 4 – 0, to take their 12th title – adding another to their record as the most successful club in the history of The Football Association Challenge Cup.
On the grass courts of Wimbledon Novak Djokovic was made his first successful defence of the singles crown at the Championships – to win his third Wimbledon title, whilst Serena Williams’ form was resurgent to take her 6th.
2016 – Serena makes it 7 at Wimbledon
In the Men’s Boat Race, Cambridge put the previous 4 years of losses behind them to take victory on the Thames, beating the Oxford boat by 3 lengths. The women’s race was a different story, Cambridge’s boat caught by bad weather nearly sunk, leaving Oxford to take the win by 24 lengths.
The London Marathon saw defending champion Eliud Kipchoge retain his title in a course-record time and take his second victory in London Elite Men’s race. The women’s elite was far tighter, Jemima Sumgong pipped 2015 champion Tufa by 5 seconds – but not before it nearly all ended in disaster after a trip, fall and bang on the head earlier in the race.
The FA Cup saw Manchester United successful n extra time – beating opponents Crystal Palace 2 – 1 in extra time – thereby equalling the record set by Arsenal the previous year of 19 appearances and 12 victories in the competition.
In the Ladies Singles final, Serena lived up to her name taking her 22nd major title and her 7th Wimbledon. Defending men’s champion Djokovic was a surprise casualty in the third round – especially as he was on a 30 match winning streak and aiming to be the first man to win a calendar Grand Slam. That left the way for home favourite Andy Murray to take his second Men’s Singles title at the Championships.
2017 – Murray out, Federer makes it a record 8.
The Boat Race saw Oxford take their 4th win in 5 years and win by a relatively small 1 1/4 lengths – pulling back the overall standings to just two, 82 – 80 in Cambridge’s favour. In the women’s event, Cambridge reversed the tables on Oxford from the previous year, winning by 11 lengths.
The London Marathon was a record fest. The women’s Elite saw Mary Keitany run a blistering pace to take the women’s title – in a women-only (there were no male pace-makers) record time of 2:17:01 – some 41 seconds up on Paula Radcliffe’s previous record. In the men’s Elite Kenyan Daniel Wanjiru held of Ethiopian rival Kenenisa Bekele in a sprint to the line.
The FA Cup was an all London affair at Wembley. Arsenal took on Chelsea for the silverware and won 2 – 1 – the second goal scored by Aaron Ramsey late on in the 79th minute. In doing so Arsenal took their 13th title from 20 appearances in the final – edging ahead of rivals Manchester United.
Andy Murray got knocked out in the quarterfinals by Sam Querry and a resurgent Roger Federer eventually triumphed in the Men’s singles – making him, with 8 titles overall, the most successful male singles player in the history of the Championships. In the women’s competition, Serena Williams was on maternity leave so did not defend her 2016 title and the competition was won by Spanish-Venezuelan Garbiñe Muguruza.
… and so far in 2018 – the Women’s Boat Race saw defending champions Cambridge successfully retain their crown, whilst in the men’s event it was Cambridge again, stretching their overall series lead to 83 – 80. The Marathon saw record-breaking numbers, with over 40,000 participants.
In the men’s elite, it was Eliud Kipchoge who took the spoils – becoming only the third male competitor ever to win three, whilst two minutes behind, Mo Farrah set a new British record. In the women’s race, Vivian Cheruiyot overhauled Mary Keitany to take the win, making it a Kenyan double and a record 7th time the African nation achieved that accolade.
It was good news for the home side in the 2018 FA Cup – as Chelsea beat Manchester United 1 – 0.
And Wimbledon, plus the World Cup are yet to come…