2021 in review: Kiwi athletes make NZ proud away from Tokyo

Brodyn Knuckey
Source: 1News

After sport globally was hit so hard by Covid-19 in 2020, plenty of fans were hoping things would be different in 2021.

Kiwis sports fans had lots to celebrate in 2021.

In some ways they were, in some ways they weren't.

On the one hand, Covid managed to push its way into competitions throughout the year and force postponements or cancellations but on the other, we saw crowds back and roaring for their teams like it was the 90s.

With all that drama though still came plenty of results Kiwis could be proud of - and they weren’t just at the Tokyo Olympics.

Here are some standouts that come to mind from a chaotic sporting year.

Silver Ferns star in Christchurch

The Silver Ferns celebrate after winning the Constellation Cup.

Take for example February when the Silver Ferns pulled off multiple comeback wins over old rivals Australia in Christchurch to hoist the Constellation Cup for just the second time.

It was a gutsy series from both sides played behind closed doors due to Covid-19, but Dame Noeline Taurua and the squad found the combinations and with it proved their World Champion status.

Still New Zealand's Cup

Peter Burling lifts the Auld Mug after winning the America's Cup.

Not long after, Team New Zealand was getting ready to hit the water for their America's Cup defence in Auckland in March.

Once again, Covid tried to make matters as difficult as possible but with a little bit of patience and [eventual] cooperation from everyone involved, the boats took to the water and were quickly flying above it.

The regatta gave us plenty of drama - from onshore bickering to a full-blown capsize that left a gaping hole in the side of American Magic's hull that almost sunk their boat - but when the dust settled it was still our Kiwi boys on top with a 7-3 series win over Luna Rossa.

Ko-meback

Lydia Ko poses with the Vare Trophy after the final round of the Tour Championship.

In April, we got to enjoy another Kiwi's return to the top with Lydia Ko finally ending her LPGA title drought and sparking what would end up being a stellar 2021.

After 57 tournaments, Ko found her way back at the top of the leaderboard with a win at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii, clinching the title by seven shots.

Ko went on to have a superb year on the course, netting a bronze medal in Tokyo, winning a second event in the Saudi Ladies International and also claiming the prestigious Vare Trophy.

Crusaders, Blues win crowns

Blues celebrate winning the Trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition.

While all this was happening, Super Rugby Aotearoa was back for a second year starting in February and despite some early signs of potential from the Blues, it was once again the Crusaders hoisting the trophy when all things were said and done in May.

Super Rugby was also hit partially by the pandemic with some rounds forced to be played with restricted crowd sizes before the five franchises turned their attention to trans-Tasman clashes for the second competition.

This time the Blues would deliver on their early season form, securing a home final against the Highlanders after an undefeated run against the Australian sides.

Both the Highlanders and Crusaders managed to go undefeated as well but the Super Rugby Aotearoa champions were left out in the cold on points difference.

That left the Blues with a chance to win their first Super Rugby title since 2003 and they pulled it off with a hard-fought 23-15 win at Eden Park.

Crusaders fans will put an asterisk next to the title for years to come but the trophy is in the cabinet and we'll leave it at that.

Black Caps on top of the World

The Black Caps celebrate after winning the World Test Championship.

With rugby out the way for a bit, attention quickly turned to cricket with the Black Caps squaring off against giants India for the World Test Championship in Southampton.

The Test was a thriller but Kyle Jamieson's man-of-the-match bowling performance along with Kane Williamson's steady bat saw the Kiwis come out on top by eight wickets.

The mace was hoisted, the champagne was popped and the world took notice of New Zealand being a proud, top tier cricket nation.

The team almost pulled off another title later in the year at the Twenty20 World Cup but settled for a gracious second against Australia.

At least there weren't any boundary countbacks involved in 2021 tournaments.

The Boy from Mumbai

Ajaz Patel joined Jim Laker and Anil Kumble as the only bowlers to take all 10 wickets in a Test innings.

Then of course came the Olympics and Paralympics - but we’ll wrap up all that glory in another article!

With Tokyo wrapped up, it was instead back to the cricket pitch although this time history beckoned for an individual instead of the team.

Spinner Ajaz Patel became just the third bowler in history to take all 10 wickets in a single Test innings after he took down India in his birthplace of Mumbai.

While the Black Caps couldn't sweeten Patel's achievement with a win, the moment still was something to sit in awe of as "the boy from Mumbai" cut down a cricket giant's lineup all on his own.

Parker ends 2021 with statement

Joseph Parker punches Derek Chisora during the WBO Intercontinental Heavyweight Title fight at the AO Arena in Manchester, England.

Finally, Kiwi boxer Joseph Parker wrapped up his year with a convincing unanimous decision win over Derek Chisora.

After surviving an initial fight with the Briton earlier in the year, Parker came back with a full training camp under new trainer Andy Lee under his belt and convincingly took down Chisora in Manchester.

The performance has made the boxing world take notice of the former champion again with some suggesting he could be in line for a title shot once the mandatory challenges and unification bouts are out of the way in 2022.

Just who Parker fights, along with what other Kiwi sporting achievements we’ll be proud of in 2022, remain to be seen though.