Top 20 Sporting Heroes and Villains Of 2012

Thanks for the memories 2012! It’s been real. You’ve given us world champs, world chumps, gold medals, and the Australian swim team. The action has been explosive, both figuratively and literally. You’ve inspired us by bravely overcoming adversity. You’ve shown us how to live strong and how to live stronger. Much like an Australian fast bowler, it’s time for our yearly breakdown. Here are our 2012 Sporting Heroes and Villains.       

2012 Sporting Villains 

Lance Armstrong 
Villains don’t come any bigger or badder than Lance. Having orchestrated the most extensive doping ring in sports history, Lance’s ugly descent into villaindom was all the more distressing thanks to the post-cancer Livestong legacy that inspired millions. Unlike any other of athlete in history, Lance gave people a reason to get out of bed and run that extra kilometre, swim that extra lap, or spend that extra 10 minutes in the gym. We’re not angry Lance, just disappointed. Very very disappointed.   

Australian Fast Bowling System 
Not since the Spanish flu ripped through England in 1918 has a nation’s fast bowling stocks taken such a hit. Currently missing 7 top line bowlers, the injury crisis is all the more frustrating because it has robbed fans of watching James Pattinson and Pat Cummins for the second summer in a row. Are our bowlers over-worked, unfit, or just a bunch of softies as some former players have suggested? The crisis ultimately cost the Aussies the number 1 ranking after their third string attack got belted to all parts of the WACA by the ruthless South Africans.  

Quade Cooper  
It’s been a tough year for Quade Cooper. Coming back from a horror injury, Cooper never hit top form and turned in some pretty frustrating Wallaby performances. As fans, we have to take the good with the bad because when he’s good, Cooper is a game winner. But nothing, even the fact that he may have been right, could justify Cooper’s public tirade against the Wallabies and the ARU management. Putting his fellow players, fans, and the guys that pay his salary offside, Cooper’s attempts to backtrack or justify his comments only served to deepen the hole as he describe the current Wallaby culture as ‘toxic‘. For the record, we are stoked Cooper re-signed with the ARU and are tipping him to become the redemption story of 2013. 

Sydney FC 
Credit where it’s due. Sydney FC landed the biggest catch the league had ever seen with the signing of Alessandro Del Piero. It’s just a pity that the rest of the team sucks! In signing Del Piero, Sydney FC boasted about the exposure his presence would bring to the club. Well that backfired with Del Piero supporters world wide baring witness to Sydney FC’s numerous short comings. Watching Del Piero imprisoned in a cage of shitness is not a good look for the club or the league.   
Australian Swim Team 
Our athletes royally copped it after a sub-par olympics and probably unfairly. I mean, what’s sub-par about competing at the Olympics? Olympics athletes, our swimmers included, dedicate their lives to training and competing only to be hung out to dry when they are 1/100th of a second off the gold medal pace. That sucks. But so did the attitude of our leading swimmers. You’re athletes, not rock stars so act accordingly. Your job is to swim, star in breakfast cereal ads, and act like humble well adjusted human beings. More Perkins, less Hackett. 

Jovin Belcher
The events surrounding NFL linebacker Jovin Belcher’s murder suicide are as tragic as they are infuriating. Belcher’s moments of madness were his own, and that is how he’ll be remembered. More alarming was the widespread vitriolic defence of the USA’s gun culture from within the sports community. I’m not from the States and I flat out don’t get the US gun culture. Maybe I’m just cultural insensitive but in the wake of another horrifying massacre, maybe it’s time to have a look at that second amendment? 
Wenlock & Mendaville – London Olympic Mascots 
What the fuck? 

Football Hooligans
Always looking to up the ante with their racist, violent, and dangerous mad-capped antics, soccer hooligans have taken to lobbing explosive devises onto the ground. It’s all fun and games until your striker loses his hand you psychos!

NHL Lockout
I’m not going to pretend to know the finer details about the ongoing dispute between players and owners. It just sucks. Sure, it may be spiking sales in sex shops across Canada as fans look for new and exciting ways to spend their leisure time, but for non-sex shop owning fans, it’s depriving them of their favourite winter pastime.  And for highlight reel junkies like myself, it’s robbing us of the best goals, big hits, and referee sanctioned brawls that the sporting world has to offer. 


QLD Kangaroos
The rivalry between NSW and QLD was already fierce enough before a few key QLD ringleaders started singing the Maroons victory song after the Kangaroos defeated the Kiwis. That was a major dick move. It was smug, disrespectful, and it cheapened the Australian jumper. Im not a mindreader or body language expert but the bemused smile-for-the-camera’s look on Paul Gallen’s face seems to say it all. Game on bitches!

2012 Heroes 

Ben Barba 
Barba’s 2012 was simply sensational. His purple patch of form virtually lasted the entire season as Barba created highlight reel after highlight reel. He’d be a walk up start for the Blues and was robbed an Australian jumper after he lost out on the utility spot to Robbie Farah. It will be interesting to see if he develops into a genuine superstar or suffer from the notorious second year blues which have struck previous one season wonders. I’m looking at you Jarryd Hayne

Joel Parkinson
One of the ASP’s most popular surfers on the tour, Parkinson finally broke through with his maiden world title after winning the Billabong Pipe Masters on the weekend. Having finished tour runner-up four times prior, Parkinson savoured the sweet victory after defeating close mate Mick Fanning and a 11-time champion Kelly Slater in a race that came down to the last event of the year. Kowabunga!

Michael Clarke 
Pup had a blockbusting start to the year with 329 (not out) and a 210 against India. After leading the Aussies to a victorious tour of the Caribbean, Clarke set about reclaiming the world number 1 ranking against the South Africans on home soil. While the South Africans were triumphant, Pup led from the front smashing two double centuries on the way to closing out the year as the ICC’s top ranked batsman. Barring injuring, Pup should eclipse Ricky Ponting’s record 1562 test runs in a calendar year.    
Tip of the hat to the Australian Football League. Blokey sporting institutions are not renowned for their social progressiveness but the AFL broke ranks with their daring No to Homophobia and Racism. It Stops With Me campaigns, signalling that discrimination in any form would not be tolerated within the sport. Bravo.   
Alessandro Del Piero
The biggest signing in A-League history (sorry Dwight), Del Piero brought worldwide attention to the A-League. His signing encouraged international stars such as Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono to venture to our shores. Thankfuly the big names have excelled and none more than Del Piero. A class above the opposition, and several classes above his struggling Sydney FC teammates, Del Piero has been a joy to watch. In addition, Del Piero has been all class off the pitch. Hell, even David Goldenballs and Posh Spice were a legitimate chance of hitting the A-League thanks to the face lift that Del Piero gave to the emerging league. 

LeBron James 
NBA MVP, NBA finals MVP, Championship winner, and Olympic Gold Medalist. LeBron has been untouchable and toped off the year by becoming the first baller since Michael Jordan to win the Sports Illustrated  Sportsman of the Year. The NBA is teetering on the verge of a Golden Era and LeBron is clearly the most dominant player in the comp. 

Bradley Wiggins
In a year where the sport of cycling was rocked to it’s core with reports of widespread dopping, along came this smooth operator. On the road, Wiggin’s won an Olympic gold and the yellow jersey in the Tour De France. Off the road he dismissed the notion of the athlete as a celebrity and celebrated his numerous victories with candid drunken revelry and dubious looking hand-rolled cigarettes.  
Lionel Messi
First Messi broke a 40-year old goal scoring record and then FIFA claimed it wasn’t an official record. And then Messi replied, scoring another double bringing his season tally to 90. Official record or not, Messi has been on fire this year and is favourite to win his 4th FIFA sanctioned Ballon d’Ore in January.  

Usain Bolt
Usain became the greatest sprinter of all time after he defended his 200m, 100m, and 4x100m relay titles at the London Olympics. And he barely broke a sweat. If he was feeling any pressure coming into the most anticipated event of the games, Bolt did not show it, jogging through his 100m semi and cruising to a decisive victory in the final. Special mention to our own track star Sally Pearson who shouldered the crippling weight of a nation and one-uped her Bejing effort in a moment to rival the pure emotion of Cathy Freeman’s 400m gold in Sydney. 

Oscar Pistorius
As a warm up to his third paralympics, Pistorius became the first double amputee to compete at the Olympics, racing in the semi-finals of the 400m and the final of the 4x400m relay. Pistorius backed up and won two golds and a silver at the Paralympics. Oh, and he also beat a horse. Special mention to our own Paralympians who handled themselves with poise and class. They also bagged a boatload of gold in the process.  

Pictures by Getty Images