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Top world sports news of 2014

The Japan Times editors selected these world sports stories as the most important of 2014.

1. Germany wins World Cup: Substitute Mario Goetze’s 113th-minute goal sends Germany past Argentina 1-0 in the final. Germany became the first European nation to win a World Cup on South American soil.


Is all that glitters gold?: Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova (above right, center) poses with silver medalist Yuna Kim and bronze medalist Carolina Kostner, after winning gold in ladies figure skating at the Sochi Olympics. The crown didn’t come without controversy as some felt Kim was the more deserving skater, alleging judging malfeasance elevated Sotnikova to a win on home ice, while others in the skating community felt Sotnikova was the rightful champion. Russian speedskater Viktor Ahn (far left) leads the pack during the short-track final. Ahn won four medals in Sochi. 
Is all that glitters gold?: Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova (above right, center) poses with silver medalist Yuna Kim and bronze medalist Carolina Kostner, after winning gold in ladies figure skating at the Sochi Olympics. The crown didn’t come without controversy as some felt Kim was the more deserving skater, alleging judging malfeasance elevated Sotnikova to a win on home ice, while others in the skating community felt Sotnikova was the rightful champion. Russian speedskater Viktor Ahn (far left) leads the pack during the short-track final. Ahn won four medals in Sochi.  | KYODO/AP

2. Sochi showcase: Russian Black Sea resort Sochi hosts the Winter Olympics. There was controversy in the women’s figure skating event, where Russian Adelina Sotnikova unexpectedly triumphed over South Korea’s Yuna Kim. Russia finished top of the medal table with 33 overall, including 13 golds.


Exit, stage right: Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling watches his team play in 2010. Sterling was stripped of his ownership after racist comments he made surfaced in April.
Exit, stage right: Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling watches his team play in 2010. Sterling was stripped of his ownership after racist comments he made surfaced in April. | AP

3. Sterling forced out: Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is ordered by NBA commissioner Adam Silver to sell his team after his racist remarks, leaked to TMZ by a girlfriend, cause public outrage. Despite lawsuits and court appearances and a bizarre media circus involving Sterling and his estranged wife, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bought the team for $2 billion.


Derek Jeter celebrates after hitting a walk-off single in the ninth inning of his final game at Yankee Stadium in September. Jeter ended his 20-year career after the season.
Derek Jeter celebrates after hitting a walk-off single in the ninth inning of his final game at Yankee Stadium in September. Jeter ended his 20-year career after the season. | KYODO

4. Jeter’s final hurrah: New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter’s celebrated career and season-long farewell tour comes to a close. The iconic shortstop, a five-time World Series winner and future Hall of Famer, finished his career with 3,465 hits in 2,747 regular-season games, all with the Yankees.


In the spotlight: Former Baltimore running back Ray Rice arrives with wife Janay Palmer for an appeal hearing in November; Seattle head coach Pete Carroll is doused in Gatorade after the Seahawks beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, New Jersey, in February.
In the spotlight: Former Baltimore running back Ray Rice arrives with wife Janay Palmer for an appeal hearing in November; Seattle head coach Pete Carroll is doused in Gatorade after the Seahawks beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, New Jersey, in February. | AP/KYODO

5. Mixed year for NFL: Pete Carroll guides the Seattle Seahawks to their first Super Bowl title, trouncing the Denver Broncos 43-8 in the cold of East Rutherford’s MetLife Stadium. But the Ray Rice domestic abuse story, including video footage of Rice punching his wife in an elevator, dominated headlines along with a string of domestic abuse cases, for which commissioner Roger Goodell faced a flurry of criticism.


San Antonio’s Tony Parker takes a shot during Game 4 of the NBA Finals in June.
San Antonio’s Tony Parker takes a shot during Game 4 of the NBA Finals in June. | AFP-JIJI

6. Spurs dethrone Heat: San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, celebrated veterans Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker and a cast of team-first role players outplay the two-time reigning champion Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Then, in a move that marked a titanic shift in the league’s balance of power, LeBron James left the Heat after four seasons and returned to the revamped Cleveland Cavaliers.


Brothers in arms: Rory McIlroy (left) and Sergio Garcia hold the Ryder Cup trophy in September.
Brothers in arms: Rory McIlroy (left) and Sergio Garcia hold the Ryder Cup trophy in September. | AP

7. McIlroy serves notice: Golfer Rory McIlroy finishes first in three consecutive tournaments, including the British Open, which he led from start to finish, and the PGA Championship. The Northern Irishman competed in 17 tournaments during the year and placed in the top 10 in 12 of them.


So macho: Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring in Real Madrid’s Champions League final win over Atletico Madrid in Lisbon in May.
So macho: Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring in Real Madrid’s Champions League final win over Atletico Madrid in Lisbon in May. | AFP-JIJI

8. Real Madrid claims bragging rights: Led by superstar Cristiano Ronaldo’s tournament-best 17 goals, Real Madrid finally claims its 10th European crown, outclassing neighbor Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final.


High standards: Novak Djokovic plays a shot during his semifinal win over Grigor Dimitrov at Wimbledon in July.
High standards: Novak Djokovic plays a shot during his semifinal win over Grigor Dimitrov at Wimbledon in July. | KYODO

9. Djokovic cements status: World No. 1 Novak Djokovic earns $14.2 million in prize money and nabs seven titles for the season, including his second Wimbledon crown (his seventh Grand Slam triumph) and third consecutive year-end ATP World Tour Finals triumph.


Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings lifts the Stanley Cup in June.
Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings lifts the Stanley Cup in June. | AP

10. Kings snatch Stanley Cup: The Los Angeles Kings defeat the New York Rangers in five games to take the NHL title for the second time in three seasons, adding to their championship in 2012 under coach Darryl Sutter.


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