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Commonwealth Games dominate 2018 sporting year

The 2018 may well be remembered as the year of the sporting reviews, while on the field there was plenty of success around the world and closer to home.

The Commonwealth Games in April was the most successful for a New Zealand team overseas.... fifth on the medal table with 46 medals including 15 gold.

After the disappointment of the Rio Olympics two years earlier, cycling led the way with 17 medals including 3 gold.

The men's sprint team and individual sprinter Sam Webster topped the podium as did mountainbiker Sam Gaze.

New Zealand's Samuel Gaze gestures in the transition area after suffering a puncture. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The one-two finish for Gaze and Anton Cooper, a swap of what happened four years earlier, was soured at the time by Gaze giving his team-mate the finger as he passed him while fixing a puncture... believing at the time that he should have waited for him.

The women's hockey team finally won a big tournament, taking gold, swimmer Sophie Pascoe grabbed two, and there were gold medals in squash, bowls, weightlifting, boxing and athletics.

And it was a special final day of the Games on the rugby sevens field with New Zealand taking both the women's and men's titles.

Dame Valerie Adams was just pipped for a third straight shot put gold, but a silver medal wasn't bad just six months after giving birth to her first child.

The Hamilton boxer David Nyika grabbed his second straight Commonwealth Games gold, but he didn't have it for long, a month later it was stolen from his car. Fortunately the police were able to recover it a few weeks later.

Another boxer hit the headlines just a week after the Commonwealth Games.

Joseph Parker challenged Anthony Joshua in a world unification heavyweight bout in Cardiff, Joshua was the better boxer and added the WBO belt to his collection.

Since then Parker has had a loss and a win and he's working his way back to the top.

Two 16-year olds made history at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, winning bronze medals within a few hours of each other.

Both from Wanaka, snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott finished third in the big air and freestyle skier Nico Porteous was third in the half pipe.

Porteous celebrated with a pie on his return home, but he obviously didn't eat too many, he won the halfpipe crown at the world junior championships later in the year.

On the rugby field, the Crusaders defended their Super Rugby title, they lost to the Hurricanes and Highlanders early on but then went on a golden run to the final.

It was during the 2018 campaign that the chorus grew for first five Richie Mounga to become the starting All Black number ten.

However it didn't happen with Beauden Barrett remaining Steve Hansen's first choice, he helped them to their third straight Rugby Championship title and they held onto the Bledisloe Cup for a 16th straight year.

However the season wasn't a perfect one, a loss to the Springboks in Wellington, a dramatic last minute come from behind victory against the Boks at Loftus Versfeld and a first ever loss to Ireland in Dublin.

Coach Steve Hansen confirmed he will stand down when his contract expires after the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

It was a big year for women's rugby... for the first time fifteen's players were contracted to New Zealand Rugby and the Farah Palmer Cup continued to grow.

On the international field the Black Ferns got to play two double headers with the All Blacks in Tests against Australia.

The Black Ferns played 5 Tests in 2018, winning 4 of them.

New Zealand also won the hosting rights for the 2021 women's Rugby World Cup, unfortunately that wasn't enough incentive to stop Black Ferns captain Fiao'o Faamausili from retiring at the end of the season.

In the shorter version of the game the New Zealand Sevens teams backed up their Commonwealth Games gold medal double with World Cup titles in San Francisco.

There weren't too many hi-lites for New Zealand cricket with no winter tour for the Black Caps, while the White Ferns failed to reach the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup.

Last summer captain Kane Williamson became New Zealand's highest Test century make, his 18th, against England at Eden Park, took him past Martin Crowe and Ross Taylor.

Williamson then guided New Zealand to an historic Test series win against Pakistan in the UAE which featured the emergence of two new spinners Ajaz Patel and Will Sommerville.

After six years in charge coach Mike Hesson stood down and was replaced by Gary Stead.

The Australian cricketers found themselves in hot water when tv cameras caught Cameron Bancroft roughing up one side of the ball with tape in a Test in South Africa.

Bancroft along with David Warner and captain Steve Smith all later received lengthy bans.

In football the end of the last season petered out for the Phoenix without a coach, finishing second to bottom, and despite a winning start to the new season, the club appears to be still struggling with consistency.

Globally the FIFA World Cup took centre stage in Russia.

Going into the tournament, a half a dozen teams appeared in with a chance, a young-new look England side made the semi-finals, but it was France and Croatia that met in the final with the French claiming their second title.

It was a significant year for New Zealand motorsport..... Brendon Hartley took part in his first full season in Formula One.... however luck seldom went his way, he grabbed just four championship points an was let go by Toro Rosso at the end of the season.

One place he could go in the future is Indycars, where another New Zealander Scott Dixon claimed his fifth title.

Two New Zealanders fought it out for the Australian Supercars title.

It came down to the last race once again, this time Scott McLaughlin came out on top just ahead of Shane van Gisbergen.

In his second year in charge Stephen Kearney guided the Warriors to their first NRL finals appearance in seven years.

They were knocked out in the first round of the play-offs and not long after they made the call to let star halfback Shaun Johnson go, he soon signed with Cronulla.

The Warriors need to back up in 2019 otherwise Kearney's place could well be let go as well.

After their disastrous World Cup campaign last year which resulted in a review, Michael McGuire was hired as Kiwis coach... they were beaten by England in Denver in June, upset Australia in October before a 2-1 series loss to England rounded out the year.

The Silver Ferns ended 2017 with four straight losses to Australia and there weren't high hopes for much better this year.

Losses to England, Australia and Jamaica in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games left may wondering if they could make the semi-finals on the Gold Coast.... they did, just, but were well beaten in the play-offs and finished fourth, their worst ever result at the Games.

Three months later coach Janine Southby left.... Netball New Zealand was eventually able to get the only possible replacement, Noeline Taurua, who was given less than a year to turn around their fortunes before the 2019 World Cup.

In her seven games in charge to date, Taurua has managed one win against Australia.

A number of reviews were held into sports this year.

A culture of bullying, poor behaviour, lack of accountability and an inappropriate relationship all existed within a dysfunctional high performance programme at Cycling New Zealand.

A review into New Zealand Football revealed that 12 Football Ferns players wouldn't have played for the Ferns again if former coach Andreas Heraf had remained coach.

Independent reviewer Pip Muir found that Heraf had breached the code of conduct policy on harassment and bullying.

With the review out of the way the Ferns went on to qualify for the World Cup and the Olympics, while the under 17 women's side made history by finishing third at their World Cup in Uruguay.

There are plenty of other athletes worth a mention from 2018.... shot putter Tom Walsh won Commonwealth Games gold, won the world indoor champs and the Diamond League final

Paddler Lisa Carrington won 4 medals at the Canoe Sprint World Champs.

Olympic champion and America's Cup winning sailors Blair Tuke and Peter Burling both competed in the Volvo Ocean race and have committed to defending their Olympic 49er title in 2020 and the Americas Cup in 2021.

After a dry spell of 21 months Lydia Ko finally won again on the LPGA golf Tour while Ryan Fox had his best year on the European tour.

Steve Adams continues to shine in the NBA.

However rowing, which is traditionally a successful sport for New Zealand failed to win a gold medal at the World Championships for the first time in 17 years.

There were some deaths worth noting, including motorcycle speedway stars Ivan Mauger and Ronnie Moore, rugby identities Fergie McCormick, Keith Murdoch, Dylan Mika, Mac McCallion, Gary Seear and Graham Williams.... swimmer and coach Jan Cameron and middle distance runner Dick Quax.

2018 a year to remember in sport.

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