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A Number of Firsts Highlighted 2010 Year in Sports

Spain's David Villa, right, takes a penalty kick during the World Cup group H soccer match between Spain and Honduras at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday, June 21, 2010.
Spain's David Villa, right, takes a penalty kick during the World Cup group H soccer match between Spain and Honduras at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday, June 21, 2010.

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Parke Brewer

The 2010 year in sports was an exciting one marked by a number of firsts.  Among them, Spain won its first World Cup football championship.  Serbia won its first Davis Cup title.  Caroline Wozniacki became the first Danish tennis player to be ranked number one in the world.  And American golf star Tiger Woods failed to win a tournament for the first time in his professional career - during a turbulent year in which he admitted the rumors of his infidelities were true.

For the first time ever, football's premier event, the World Cup, was held in Africa.  No one, either in the stadiums or watching on television, will forget the blaring vuvuzelas throughout the nine host cities.

The final was played at the huge Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg, where Spain captured its first World Cup with a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands in extra time, on a goal by Andres Iniesta.

In early December FIFA voted surprisingly for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup and for Qatar to become the smallest and first Middle East nation to host the tournament in 2022.

American golfer Tiger Woods dominated headlines in 2010 but mostly not for his game.  Rumors became reality when he admitted to a string of extra-marital affairs.  His reputation ruined, he lost millions of dollars in endorsements and was divorced by his Swedish wife Elin.  For the first time in his pro career, he did not win a tournament, and he fell from the number-one world ranking.  In team golf, Europe recaptured the prestigious Ryder Cup from the United States.

In tennis, Caroline Wozniacki did not win any of the major tournaments, but she won enough to become the first player from Denmark, male or female, to ascend to number one in the world.  American Serena Williams, injured for much of the year, captured  two of the four majors, the Australian Open and Wimbledon.  On the men's side, Rafael Nadal of Spain won the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, to regain the top ranking from Switzerland's Roger Federer.  

The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics might be remembered more for their tragic start rather than their athletic feats.

In a training run the day of the Opening Ceremonies Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia was killed when his luge sled flew off the track into a support pole.  Warmer than normal weather resulted in snow being trucked in to Cypress Mountain and thousands of spectator tickets had to be canceled because the footing on top of the hay bales underneath was unsafe.  Still, competition went on.  Whistler Mountain events were not affected.  That's where alpine skier Lindsey Vonn became the first American woman to win the Olympic downhill gold medal.  Later in the season she was the first American -- and only second woman ever -- to win the overall World Cup title three straight seasons.

But despite tragedy and weather issues, the host Canadians rejoiced on the final day when their beloved men's ice hockey team captured the gold medal with a thrilling 3-2 overtime win over the United States.

In the professional hockey ranks, from which the Olympic teams were drawn, the Chicago Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup since 1961, beating the Philadelphia Flyers in six games.

The Los Angeles Lakers won their second straight National Basketball Association title, beating the Boston Celtics, four games to three, and Kobe Bryant was once again named Most Valuable Player.

Quarterback Drew Brees guided the New Orleans Saints to their first ever National Football League Super Bowl title.  Their 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts provided a big morale boost to the city five years after the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.

Baseball's San Francisco Giants won their first World Series since moving to California from New York back in 1958.  They were victorious in five games over the Texas Rangers, who appeared in their first World Series.  But sadly, the steroids issue made headlines in baseball as well.  New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez admitted he took performance-enhancing drugs while playing for the Texas Rangers six years ago.  On the other hand, retired star pitcher Roger Clemens was indicted on charges of lying to Congress two years ago, when he claimed he had never used performance-enhancing drugs.  His trial will be in 2011.

In the other bat and ball sport, Sachin Tendulkar of India became the first batsman to surpass 14,000 runs in test cricket.  And Sri Lankan bowler Muttiah Muralitharan retired with a world record 800 wickets, achieving the feat from his final ball in his final test match in July against India.

And in a thrilling Formula One season that came down to the final race, German driver Sebastian Vettel won his and the Red Bull team's first ever championship.

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