Sunday, August 23, 2015

Top 10 memories: Sports

Hello there, kind reader. Like your dentist last promised you, this one's going to be real quick. Less pain to endure - my word.

"Fresh" from watching three sport-related documentaries back to back on a bumpy flight, I find myself sitting on the carpeted floor of an airport, justifying the emptying of my hard earned and well guarded piggy bank for a trip that (as much as I've dreamt of for *years*) does not involve an F1 race in Belgium. And since there's nine hours of this sitting, waiting and miserable analysis I imagine I will subject myself to, I've taken to poor Notepad for distraction.

The documentaries I watched - one on Arsenal, one on Nadal/ Federer and the last, on motorsports (but of course!) - got me navigating my far-from-nimble mind palace to take stock of moments from these sports that really got to me. So here's a simple list of my top sport memories - some good, some bad but all bloody brilliant - from the last decade or so.

I'm giving myself just one shot and less than half an hour to list down the top ten, allowing myself a fine excuse for when I think of other entries that should've made the cut. Given how my memory is known for everything but retention and quick recall, I figured I'm better off announcing this disclaimer. :)

10. Federer vs Murray - Wimbledon 2012
There's a charged Andy Murray, there's perhaps all of England connecting with Jesus because they want to see a British champion again and there's Roger Federer calmly raining down brilliance. Good guy Murray, but Federer reclaiming the Wimbledon title in style gave me a high that refused to go away for a while.

9. Sebastian Vettel's first win at Monza in 2008
This 21 year old's emphatic pole + victory at a passion-packed track like Monza was special not just because he's German and held promise but also 'cuz his hero was good old Schumi. Like in a fairy tale, baby-faced Vettel grew up to race alongside his hero and won the Race of Champions Nations trophy with Schumacher (for Germany) in 2007. His consistent performances in F1 made me wish we'd see him in Ferrari one day. Well.. yay.

8. Schumacher's engine's PMSing - Japanese GP 2006
Schumacher was this close to an 8th world championship. But while he was in the lead in the penultimate race of the year, his engine decided to put up a show by going up in smoke. That's that. Bollocks. Miserable rascal, that engine. Ugh.

7. Miroslav Klose/ Mesut Ozil - World Cup 2006 / 2010
Klose's Golden Shoe for being the top scorer in the 2006 World Cup in Germany was immensely special because that was the first time I found myself hooked to football. It's inexplicable why I took to the German National team like I did but there's been no going back since (Except to the Deutscher Fußball-Bund cap I have..since the darned thing has Adidas on it). And Klose was an instant favorite for reasons I can't remember. His personality, perhaps. Whatever it was, I'm a fan for life.
Similar scenes with Mesut Ozil - love at first sight during the 2010 World Cup. Yes, despite his frog-like eyes. On a good day, what he does on field is pure magic to my eyes. More power to the boy!

6. Kimi Raikkonen's suspension failure - European GP 2005
If you knew me back when Raikkonen raced Schumacher for the championship, you'd remember just how much I enjoyed his cars' many reliability issues.
Raikkonen's engine blew? HAHA! The smoke escaping his car was my favorite version of modern art.
Raikkonen crashed at the first corner? "Oooooh boy, good luck explaining that static grin on your face to teachers in school tomorrow, Merin."

But something pulled on my heart during the European GP in 2005. Raikkonen took the lead at the first corner of the race after a brilliant start and drove a good race up until, perhaps, boredom hit him. A few driving errors meant he damaged his tyres a tad too much. The damage eventually got so bad that he began experiencing vibrations throughout the car; still in the lead but with an eager Alonso closing in, a pit stop meant relinquishing victory. During the final laps of the race, the vibrations were so severe that you could see his head bobbing about in the cockpit and I remember thinking that that level of determination and hunger for victory deserved immense respect. Suddenly, BOOM! Last lap of the race and his suspension broke under immense pressure. Seconds later, he picked himself off the barriers. It was all over. That was the first time I felt terrible for the Finn.

First of many times, as we'd have it. When I next found myself crying - literally - for him, I ended up writing my first (wonderfully cringe-worthy) blog post - here.

5. Germany's triumph at the 2014 World Cup
After years of agonising near-misses at World Cups and Euros, DFB made gold theirs..with a 7-1 scoreline along the way! Too good to be true, I'd have said. Everything - luck included - worked well for Germany in 2014 and the end-result gave me good reason to feel like a champion.
Albeit temporarily, as always.

4 and 3. Germany's loss to Spain (Euro 2008) and Federer's loss to Nadal (Wimbledon 2008)
Both these matches took place in the span of a week, mid-2008. And both saw Spaniards come out on top. If Germany's loss to Spain hurt deep, what happened at Wimbledon the following weekend left me emotionally drained. My mom and I were both teary-eyed at the end of the match..only, mum was celebrating Nadal's victory. I have absolutely no credentials to bother you with my commentary on that EPIC match but I remember passing out from a case of spectator's exhaustion, utterly heart broken.

2. Schumacher brothers at the San Marino GP - 2003
After pulling off a 1-2 at qualifying in San Marino, Ralf and Michael had to rush to Cologne to be with their ailing mum. They unfortunately lost her on race day morning but flew back down to Imola to put in measured drives, with Michael taking the win. On the top step of the podium, we found Schumacher - popularly declared stone hearted - crying. The grit, determination and pain I saw on Michael's face that day left behind a mental image that will never leave me. Ever. 

1. Schumacher vs Kimi - Brazilian GP 2006
This was set to be Schumacher's last race, given he'd announced his retirement at Monza that year. He started the race down in 10th but moved up the track pretty quick - only to endure a puncture and go all the way back the grid. He then drove a blinding race with upto eleven-twelve beautiful overtaking manoeuvres, to finish fourth. The pass that leaves me drooling every single time I watch it though, is the move Schumacher pulled on Raikkonen towards the end - sudden, precise, gutsy, too close for comfort. Perfect. 
My favorite F1 moment, shared by my favorite F1 people. 

* 0. A bonus! My favorite moment, irrespective of everything in the world, will be when I walk the track at Spa Franchorchamps in Belgium.  :) Someday soon, I tell you. Someday soon.

That's that! What's your list like? :) 


Unaccustomed Mirth said...

This is a very German sports persons heavy post and oh my, can't tell you how much I love it :) I totally get the Klose fascination 2006 and on. The 2014 win was so so special, being his last world cup and all that. I wish I'd been old enough to watch Steffi Graf play more than I did, because then I'd add her 88 Golden Slam to the list. And the era of Micheal and Ralf on the tracks together, sigh, I wish we could turn back time.

Brilliant post :)

Merin said...

You're making me look up videos of Graf now. :)
Many thanks!

nalini said...

Wow!!! That was brilliant. Waiting for your post on Bolt(Forever Faster!!) before the next race

nalini said...

Wow!!. Brilliant. Waiting for your post on Bolt(Forever Faster!!) before his next race.