Andy Murray winning Olympic gold and his first Grand Slam title
Winning Olympic Gold and the US Open title cast aside mounting misgivings about Andy Murray, mostly concerning his big-game temperament, particularly when facing Djokovic, Nadal and Federer.
His talent has never been in doubt, but the ghost of Fred Perry - the last British man to win a Grand Slam title before Murray - continued to haunt British tennis. That it took another loss in a major tournament to inspire Murray to greatness is, perhaps, the ultimate irony of his victories at London 2012 and Flushing Meadow.
A sometimes taciturn presence on court and in press conferences, the emotion that overwhelmed Murray after defeat to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final saw the British public back Murray in unison for perhaps the first time; the effect this had on his stunning victories over Federer in the Olympic men’s final, and Djokovic at the US Open, is impossible to measure, but it was surely worth its weight in gold nonetheless.
Sir Chris Hoy becomes Britain’s greatest Olympian
British cycling enjoyed its most wreath-laden year ever in 2012.
Bradley Wiggins’ sensational Tour De France victory - the first to be won by a British man since the Tour’s inception in 1903 - was a singularly awe-inspiring achievement by itself; Sir Chris Hoy’s outstanding Olympic record has catapulted the Edinburgh-born cyclist to even greater heights than those hit in 2008.
After victory in the keirin and the team sprint, Hoy cemented his legacy as Britain’s greatest Olympian with a total haul of six gold medals, eclipsing the five won by rowing great Sir Steve Redgrave.
Katherine Grainger wins gold at the fourth time of asking
After more than 12 years of trying, Katherine Grainger’s unvarnished expression of delight as she collected a long-coveted Olympic gold conveyed more than words ever could about just how much the medal meant to the 37-year-old.
Alongside rowing partner Anna Watson, with whom she had already forged a formidable partnership (winning two world titles and remaining unbeaten in 23 races before their double sculls victory), they cruised to victory, beating nearest rivals Australia by over two-thirds of a length.
A nomination for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year capped a triumphant year for the Glasgow-born rower.
Record-breaking gold for Neil Fachie in B 1km time trial
Scottish Paralympians took home 11 medals in all competitions this summer, but Neil Fachie’s world-record breaking ride with tandem partner Barney Storie was among the most impressive.
Fachie and Storie demolished the world record by nearly three-quarters of a second on their way to gold in the B 1km time trial. Fachie also took home silver in the individual sprint, adding further to British cycling’s dominant medals tally across the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Scots David Smith and Craig Maclean also bolstered ParalympicGB’s gold medal tally in rowing and cycling respectively.
Hearts’ all-Edinburgh cup final victory
Scottish football had precious little to cheer about this year. The national side toiled under the now-departed Craig Levein, his reign pockmarked with needless nadirs (4-6-0, the Stephen Fletcher saga) and too many wholly uninspiring performances. The real damage, though, unravelled in the domestic game, as the financial fragilities of several Scottish Premier League clubs were exposed.
In perhaps one of the biggest, most Kafkaesque stories of Scottish football history, Rangers were liquidated and demoted to Scotland’s bottom tier amid accusations of financial wrongdoing.
Amid unprecedented chaos and crisis in the Scottish game, however, there shone a glimmer of light for Hearts, another club beleaguered by their own financial turmoil. Having memorably navigated past Celtic in the semi-final thanks to a late penalty strike from Craig Beattie (notably, a Parkhead alumni), Paolo Sergio’s side faced Hibernian in a Scottish Cup final for the first time since 1896.
A typically frenetic derby game was played against the backdrop of Hibernian’s cup final hex (the Easter Road side, as Hearts fan relish in reminding them, have not won the Scottish Cup in over 110 years) together with Hearts precarious finances (though a subsequent wind-up order issued by HMRC has since made the perennial late payment of wages a mere trifle by comparison), but Hibernian once again succumbed to their Hampden jinx as Hearts ran out 5-1 victors.