Year in Review: Most memorable sports moments of 2023

The year included some of the best sporting moments that were etched in the history books forever

December 26, 2023
Australia's record-extending sixth World Cup (L), Spain's maiden Women's World Cup (C), and Novak Djokovic's (R) dominance were some of the most memorable moments of 2023. — Reuters/AFP

From Australia asserting its dominance in the world of cricket to Novak Djokovic maintaining his supremacy in the Grand Slams, 2023 provided sports enthusiasts with some of the most unforgettable moments.

As this historic year draws to a close, we reflect on seven of the most memorable moments that the fans will cherish for a long time. 

Australia’s dominance in ICC tournaments

Australia is the most successful team in the history of cricket and it comes as no surprise as the Baggy Greens dominated all the ICC tournaments that were held this year.

The Aussies, under the leadership of Pat Cummins, defeated India in the World Test Championship (WTC) 2021-23 final at The Oval courtesy of Travis Head’s remarkable 163 against the pace attack of Mohammed Shami, Mohammad Siraj, Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur.

The Aussies had a dip in form in one-day cricket as, at one time, they went on to lose four matches in a row and the pundits stopped mentioning their name while talking about the ICC World Cup 2023, and rightly so. The Aussies also began their campaign in the mega event with back-to-back losses but they made an astounding comeback as Cummins guided his men to nine straight wins, ultimately beating India one-sided in the final, where, once again, Head shone by scoring 163 runs.

Australia's skipper Pat Cummins holds the World Test Championship (L) and ICC World Cup 2023 (R). ICC / REUTERS

Manchester City’s historic treble

Manchester City emerged as a powerhouse at the start of the last decade however, despite their unmatched domestic success in the last 13 years, European glory was always missing. 

Say no more as Pep Guardiola not only helped The Cityzens win their first-ever UEFA Champions League (UCL) by beating Inter Milan in the final. In UCL, Man City’s biggest obstacle was Real Madrid in the semi-final whom they battered 4-0 in the second leg at home which paved their way to the final. In the Premier League, they overcame Arsenal’s 12-point lead and clinched the league in an astonishing fashion.

Meanwhile, in the FA Cup final, they cruised past arch-rivals Manchester United 2-1 as Ilkay Gundogan scored twice to secure the club’s seventh domestic title.

Manchester City's captain Ilkay Gundogan lifts the UEFA Champions League. — REUTERS

Novak Djokovic’s dominance in Grand Slams

Novak Djokovic made his Grand Slam debut in 2005, at the age of 17, fast forward to 2023, aged 37, the Serb continued his dominance on the biggest stage in tennis.

Starting with a victory at the Australian Open, his ninth overall, where he overcame Stefano Tsitsipas in straight sets, the 37-year-old showed no weakness and desire to stop as he went on to win Roland Garros in June, beating Casper Ruud dominantly. While he suffered a loss at the Wimbledon final against Carlos Alcaraz, the Belgrade-born made a strong comeback and thrashed Daniil Medvedev to win the hard-court event in the United States of America. 

After securing three titles in 2011, 2015, and 2021, this was the fourth time Djokovic won three slams in a year, overtaking the legendary Roger Federer who won three slams in 2004, 2006, and 2007.

Novak Djokovic with the Australian Open, Rolland Garros and French Open. —  REUTERS / AFP

2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup: Maiden title for Spain

Playing in front of 75,784 spectators at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Spain won their first-ever Women’s World Cup after defeating the in-form England courtesy of Olga Carmona’s 29th-minute strike. 

Both sides were World Cup final debutants, while the Spanish team appeared in two mega events previously and went only as far as the round of 16. The Lionesses had already finished third in 2015, but their experience came of no use as Jorge Vilda’s side emerged victorious after a dominant display.

However, what could have just been about Spain and their historic achievement, the final was greatly overshadowed by the former RFEF president, Luis Rubiales, controversy as he went on to kiss Spain’s Jennifer Hermoso on the lips which generated massive backlash from everywhere.

Spanish players celebrate their first Women's World Cup. — REUTERS

South Africa win fourth Rugby World Cup

In 2023, the men's Rugby World Cup took center stage, and host nation France harbored hopes of securing their maiden title after finishing as runners-up thrice. 

The French embarked on an impressive journey, breezing past the formidable All Blacks in the tournament's opening match. However, their aspirations were dashed by a brutal 29-28 defeat to South Africa in the quarter-finals.

In the first semi-final, New Zealand overcame Argentina, while England and South Africa engaged in a tense 16-15 thriller in the other semi-final. The South Africans emerged victorious, securing a spot in their second consecutive World Cup final. 

In a dramatic final showdown, the Springboks once again defied expectations, narrowly defeating New Zealand 12-11, sparking jubilation among players and fans alike.

South Africa lift fourth Rugby World Cup. — REUTERS

LeBron James becomes NBA’s all-time scorer

To call LeBron James the greatest NBA player of this century wouldn’t be wrong on any level as the American has earned this title with his sheer hard work for over 20 years. 

He took his legendary status to the whole next level this year when he surpassed the great Kareem Abdul Jabbar as the league’s all-time leading scorer, breaking the record that stood for a whopping 39 years.

He reached this feat on February 7, 2023, against Oklahoma City Thunder as he scored his 38,388th point by dropping his trademark 21-foot fallaway jumper. 

“To be in the presence of such a legend and great as Kareem, it means so much to me. It’s very humbling. To everybody who’s ever been a part of this run with me the last 20 years, I just want to say thank you so much,” James said after the historic achievement. 

LeBron James speaks after becoming NBA's all-time top-scorer. — REUTERS

Max Verstappen's remarkable year

Three seasons prior as Max Verstappen raced past Lewis Hamilton on the final corner of the last race of the season, it signalled a changing of the guard. The British icon had permanently altered the sport, earning him eternal esteem. However, a new sheriff was destined to take charge and that is precisely what unfolded. 

No one matched Verstappen's prowess in 2022 as the Dutchman surged ahead of his competitors to claim a second consecutive title. His triumphs in 2023, though, were even more remarkable; not only did he secure his third successive championship trophy, but he did so by triumphing in 19 out of the 22 races on offer. By achieving this feat, the young sensation established a new record for the most wins in a season and propelled his team, Red Bull Racing, to yet another Constructors' Championship.

Max Verstappen celebrates after winning a race. — REUTERS

Wasay Qayyum is a sports journalist at Geo Super.