Sport in 2019
It’s simply impossible to highlight all of the major sporting events in 2019 as nearly every week sees battles for major titles in one sporting discipline or another, but here’s a look at some of the stand out events to look forward to and a few of the stars, established or upcoming, who will be ones to watch in action.
The Australian Open tennis is the first of the four tennis Grand Slams, with the main draw action beginning in Melbourne on January 14th. The main talking point in the tournament will surround Andy Murray’s performance after he announced that this might be his last professional competition, following a tough 20-month struggle trying to recover from a hip operation. Other Brits will be in action, with questions being raised about whether Kyle Edmund and Johanna Konta can replicate their previous records of reaching the semi-finals in 2018 and 2016 respectively. While it is still expected that the big names - Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Roger Federer - will dominate their fields, the first major tournament of the year always presents opportunities for upsets.
The Winter X Games is an annual extreme sports event with the 2019 tournament taking place in Aspen, on Colorado’s Buttermilk Mountain, from January 24th to 27th. The Games feature world-class ski, snowboard and snowmobile athletes, as well as boasting musical performances from the likes of Kygo and The Chainsmokers. If you’re missing having action from a Winter Olympics to watch, then this might be a good substitute!
The third day of the month will see Super Bowl LIII take place to decide the league champion for the 2018 NFL season. The 53rd Super Bowl will take place in Atlanta, Georgia, and while the current rankings allow for a multiplicity of different potential matchups, it is sure to be a dramatic showdown between the season’s two top teams. The halftime show performer has yet to be confirmed, but many outlets have reported that Maroon 5 and Travis Scott will be taking to the stage.
February will also see an abundance of World Para titles up for grabs, with the Para-Snowboard World Cup, Para-Alpine Skiing World Cup and World Para-Taekwondo - just to name a few! The first events of the Para-Swimming World Series and World Para Athletics Grand Prix will also take place, with athletes hoping to make the most of their final opportunities to secure a place at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Founded in 1968 to provide children with intellectual disabilities with greater opportunities to participate in athletic events, the Special Olympics World Games take place every two years and alternate between Summer and Winter Games. The Special Olympics will take place once again in 2019, from March 14th to 21st in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE); the first time that the Games have been held in the Middle East/North Africa region.
More exciting action can also be expected in the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, hosted in Sofia, Bulgaria, from March 8th to 10th. Following on from the European Championships in January, this event will see speed skaters go head-to-head on a world stage for the first time since PyeongChang 2018. Home interests surround Elise Christie, the 28-year-old from Scotland, who won world titles in the 1000m and 1500m events in 2017, in addition to the overall gold, making her the first European woman to do so.
April 6th will see the 172nd Grand National take place, a national horse race located at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool. While the event draws in the usual horse racing fans, the Grand National attracts an unprecedented audience with an estimated 500 to 600 million people watching the action in over 140 different countries; a large part of this attraction reliant on the fact that the jump race is the most valuable in Europe, with a prize fund of £1 million last year. However, this does mean that it is a struggle to name the ones to watch, or else I’d be rushing to the bookies...
Golf’s Masters Tournament will again take place at the Augusta National Golf Club, USA, from April 11th to 14th. As the first of the four major championships in professional golf, the Masters kicks off the 2019 season. Former world number one, Jordan Spieth from Dallas, Texas, is expected to be the frontrunner at the tournament despite a dip in his form last year, drawing on his previous success as the 2015 winner and a three-time major champion. Another American is a notable contender in Justin Thomas, who had a strong 2018 with ten top 10 finishes and three wins, while England’s Justin Rose will be looking to improve on his runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2017.
Despite men’s football consistently sitting at the forefront of British sporting coverage, this interest will culminate with the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London, on May 18th. The first round of the cup began in August 2018, and the winning team will qualify for the 2019-2020 UEFA Europa League group stage. Chelsea will be hoping to defend their title, though current predictions have Manchester City at the top of the table, with others expecting (or hoping) that Jurgen Klopp might be able to end Liverpool’s long title drought.
The ICC Cricket World Cup will begin on May 30th, continuing to run throughout June and July, and is to be hosted at home by England and Wales. The 2019 World Cup will feature 10 teams, a decrease from past tournaments which hosted 14 teams, meaning that not all of the 12 Test playing nations will qualify to compete. While England’s women won the 2017 Women’s World Cup on home turf, it is optimistic to hope that the men will be able to accomplish the same feat at home having never won the title before - Australia look likely to defend their title.
If you’ve been longing nostalgically for the excitement of last summer, then be sure to tune in for the FIFA Women’s World Cup! The tournament is to take place in France from June 7th to July 7th, with the US hoping to defend their title and extend their record as the most successful team to four victories. England will be hoping to go one win further than their agonising, but inspiring third-place finish in 2015, with Steph Houghton, expected to captain the team again four years later having celebrated her 100th cap in the latter months of 2018. It’s coming home, it’s coming home...