Benzema, XV of France, Winter Olympics, Federer, World Cup… The greatest sporting moments of the year 2022

The year 2022 ends this Saturday at the end of twelve months rich in sporting exploits. Between records, tears, successes and disappointments, RMC Sport takes you back to a thrilling year.

• February 6: Senegal on the roof of Africa for the first time in its history

Senegal wrote the best page in its history by winning the African Cup of Nations for the first time. In Cameroon, the Senegalese beat Mohamed Salah’s Egypt on penalties and broke the curse after losing three finals. After missing a penalty in the 5th minute of play, Sadio Mané offered the title to the Teranga Lions by converting the decisive shot on goal.

The day after this coronation, declared a public holiday by President Macky Sall, Aliou Cissé’s men paraded in the middle of a human tide in the streets of Dakar. After difficult months of economic crisis, health restrictions and political unrest, this victory is seen as a relief for a young population – more than half is under 20 – who had never seen their selection triumph.

• 4-20 February: Quentin Fillon Maillet superstar at the Beijing Olympics

Long in the shadow of the overwhelming figure of Martin Fourcadefrom which he ended up freeing himself, Quentin Fillon Maillet finally caught the light. In six races contested at the Beijing Olympics, the Jurassien climbed on the podium five times (gold in individual and pursuit, silver in sprint, relay and mixed relay), even if he narrowly missed a historic Grand Slam by finishing in fourth place in the mass start in his last disputed event. No matter: at 29, the Jura player made a resounding entry into the pantheon of French sport by achieving a performance that had not been seen for almost a century for a tricolor athlete at the Olympic Games, summer and winter combined.

Until now, only the fencer Roger Ducret (three gold medals and two silver in 1924) and the archer Julien Brulé (one gold, three silver and one bronze in 1920) had managed to reach such a level. In the wake of Fillon Maillet, winner of the general classification of the Biathlon World Cup a few weeks later, France finished the Beijing Olympics in 10th place in the medal classification with 14 charms (five in gold, seven in silver and two in bronze).

• March 19: the XV of France achieves its first Grand Slam since 2010

Such a long wait. Carried by a crazy Stade de France, the Blues dominated their best English enemies on the last day of the Six Nations Tournament (25-13) to win the tenth Grand Slam in their history, the first for twelve years. Simply grandiose and amply deserved for this beautiful generation embodied by Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack, who have been able to give pleasure to their supporters in recent months.

One goal achieved, another in sight. As soon as the trophy was lifted, the Blues quickly had other dreams in mind. Within the group built with a master hand by Fabien Galthié, everyone is already thinking of the 2023 World Cup, organized in France. « 2023? We all have it in the back of our minds. This team is very ambitious and gives itself the means to be so, » said Antoine Dupont on the evening of the Grand Slam. We are already looking forward to it.

• June 5: at the end of himself, Rafael Nadal wins his 14th Roland-Garros

Immortal Rafael Nadal. At 36, the Spaniard won his 14th Porte d’Auteuil coronation by upholding logic against the Norwegian Casper Ruud, world number 8, in three sets (6-3, 6-3, 6-0) and a little more than two hours of play. To get this 22nd Grand Slam title, an absolute record for men, the Mallorcan went all the way.

Suffering from Müller-Weiss syndrome, a degenerative and incurable disease which is characterized by the deformation of one of the bones of the foot, Nadal had to fight against pain throughout the fortnight. « I played with the foot asleep, it took blocking the nerves to make the foot numb. That’s how I was able to play, that’s why I say I can’t continue playing. this way », he confided after his victory, maintaining the suspense on the follow-up given to his career. Operated on his foot just after Roland-Garros, he finally resumed his season, without winning a new title (elimination in 1/2 of Wimbledon on package then in 1/8 of the US Open, in particular) .

• June 22: the hatching of Léon Marchand at the World Swimming Championships

French sport has its new pool star. At only 20 years old, Leon Marchand was crowned world champion in the 200m and 400m medley at the Budapest World Swimming Championships. A crazy harvest to which must be added a silver medal in the 200m butterfly.

Son of Xavier Marchand, vice-world champion in the 200m medley, and Céline Bonnet, former French record holder in the 100m medley and 200m medley, Léon Marchand went into exile in the United States to train in the University of Arizona under the orders of a certain Bob Bowman, former coach of legend Michael Phelps. A paying choice in view of its emergence in the eyes of the whole world at the very beginning of the summer.

All hopes are now allowed for the 2024 Olympic Games which are fast approaching, while French swimming is looking for a new breath after a failed 2020 edition (a silver medal with Florent Manaudou).

• September 15: Roger Federer says stop

The end of an era. A model of elegance and class, Roger Federer (41), considered by many tennis lovers to be the best player of all time, announced his retirement at the end of the Laver Cup, a competition in which he is the origin. In 24 years and more than 1500 matches on the professional circuit, Federer marked tennis beyond reason and the announcement of his retirement, however more or less expected in view of the last delicate seasons experienced by the Swiss, put the world of the little yellow ball in shock. The whole world knew that this news would drop in the rather near future, but it’s as if no one really wanted to imagine it.

In number of Major titles, Federer, crowned in 20 Grand Slams, will never be the greatest, since he is already ahead of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. But the immense emotion of the players, Rafael Nadal in the lead, during his last match at the Laver Cup testifies to the immense trace left by the Swiss in the history of his sport.

• 17 October: the fulfillment of a career for Benzema, crowned with the Ballon d’Or

His dream has come true. Author of a stratospheric year with Real Madrid and the Blues, Karim Benzema logically won the Ballon d’Or 2022. At 34, the former Lyonnais became the fifth French player to win the prestigious trophy after Raymond Kopa (1958), Michel Platini (1983, 1984, 1985), Jean-Pierre Papin (1991) and Zinédine Zidane (1998).

Decisive in the coronation of the Blues in the League of Nations in the fall of 2021 and still just as valuable in La Liga (top scorer with 27 goals), KB9 has above all achieved a breathtaking European campaign with Real Madrid. With 15 goals in the entire competition, including 10 from the final phase, the Frenchman won his fifth title in the Champions League. Unfortunately for him, his dreams of a title in the World Cup flew away due to an injury, after a major imbroglio with the staff of the France team.

• December 18: From dream to nightmare for the Blues in a completely crazy World Cup final

A delirious scenario for a cruel outcome. Pushed to penalties by a French team with unlimited resources and a hat-trick from Kylian Mbappé, Argentina won the 2022 World Cup (3-3, 4-2 tab). Author of a double, Lionel Messi has finally offered the most precious of trophies, at 35 years old.

While one might think that the pressure would be more on the shoulders of the Argentines, who were on a mission for the Pulga and had not won the title in 2018, it was the Blues who first let themselves be devoured by the event for nearly 80 minutes. And then there was the madness. Led 2-0, Didier Deschamps’ men overturned everything in two minutes thanks to Kylian Mbappé (2-2, 81st). After coming back to score again in extra time after a goal from Messi, again thanks to Mbappé, the reigning world champions finally cracked on penalties.

At the Lusail stadium, Mbappé, author of the second hat-trick in history in the World Cup final after that scored by the Englishman Geoff Hurst, continued to write his legend. There will be no third star for the Blues and crack Bondy, but the latter has shown that he has what it takes to mark the history of French sport. Long live the sequel.

Felix Gabory RMC Sport journalist

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