Following on from our first look at the 2012 year in sport where we highlighted the Chumps of the year, our second post pays tribute to 7 individuals that retired from competitive International sport in 2012. These 7 sports stars have been leading lights for the past decade or more in some cases. They have consistently achieved at the top end of the game and will leave huge voids in their respective sports.
The saddest part about Boucher’s retirement is that he did not go out on his own terms, instead a freak injury forced him to retire 3 games short of his desired finish. Boucher’s career is one of records and the legendary wicket keeper took 555 test dismissals, 425 ODI dismissals and 19 T20 dismissals. That would have left him on 999 International dismissals, but the off spinning, leg breaking seamer also dismissed a West Indian as a bowler in his career! Subsequent to retirement he has remained a huge fan of the Proteas as well as starting a non-profit organisation, SAB Boucher Conservation, in order to help save our dwindling Rhino population.
Andy Roddick was probably one of the most unlucky men in tennis. He emerged as world number 1 at the very time that the emergence of a certain Roger Federer was going down. He ended up winning only one Grand slam in the 2003 US Open. He also finished runner up at Wimbledon three times to Roger Federer and to the Swiss again at the US Open in 2006. One thing that I loved about Roddick was his ability to entertain, his ability to laugh at himself and his love for beer! He has a belter of a wife now and will also spend time making money for being Andy Roddick.
Punter, Sachin and Kallis, probably the three greatest players of cricket in the past decade and they have each raised the bar for the other with consistency of runs. But it is Ponting who is the first to retire. He retires after 168 tests and 375 ODI’s. In those 168 tests he scored 41 centuries at an average of 54.60. He captained Australia through a hugely dominant portion of the noughties and his fielding ability was up there with the great Jonty Rhodes. He also led Australia in three World Cups, winning two of them. Fight and tenacity are two great words to describe the man who graced our sporting fields for the past 17 years.
The first of two double retiree’s being inducted into our Hall of Fame. The Belgian superstar retired from the game in 2007 due to the pending birth of her first child and having previously won just 1 grand slam title. But in 2009 she returned to the action and immediately won her second US Open title and defended it in 2010. Kim then went on to win her fourth grand slam and first Aussie Open title in 2011 and remarkably had returned to the top of the world tennis rankings. What is remarkable is she did all of this as a young mother in a time when the average age of professional women tennis players was dropping below the legal drinking age in South Africa.
The previous Indian captain and classy batsmen also decided to end his career this year after 16 years of test cricket. “The Wall” as he was popularly known played 164 times for India in that time recording 99 scores of 50+ and also ended up with an average above 50, finishing on 52.30. In that time he was voted Player of the Year in 2004 and also was the only Indian to score a century in each of the ten test playing nations. Incredibly he has also taken 210 catches in test matches, the highest in the world by an outfielder. His 13 288 runs is also the third highest in the history of test cricket.
After about 170 caps, 33 goals, 3 Olympic Games, a player of the year gong and Commonwealth Games participation, Kate Woods decided to retire from international hockey. The legendary defender was a huge part of Giles Bonnet’s squad and will leave a hole in defence for the National Women’s team that will be difficult to fill. She has kept her sporting roots and is working for Adidas in South Africa while teaching her son Sammy all the tricks of the trade to make sure SA Hockey benefits from her for many years still!
The second of the double retiree’s, Schumacher’s return has not been sensational and at times you have to think that his level of performance would be indicative of what Lance Armstrong would do without the extra juice. The German hero won 7 world titles and that will never be taken away from him. He has apparently been a mentor of sorts to his compatriot and triple champion Sebastien Vettel, the man who is probably going to take all his records from him. The remarkable thing Schumi did this year was that he reached the most kilometres in Formula 1 history, a testament to his longevity in the game.