Fresh off the back of Simone Biles’ laughable Athlete of the Year award from Time Magazine, here are some alternatives elsewhere in sport far more deserving of the gong.
The famous publication quite rightly dubbed Biles the GOAT in her chosen profession, gymnastics.
But at Tokyo 2020, the American let the side down with minutes to spare before their team event eventually won by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).
Biles then pulled out of another four events, citing mental health concerns, before returning for the beam where she scooped bronze.
— TIME (@TIME) December 9, 2021
Maybe she should receive an accolade elsewhere for raising awareness, but this isn’t the one – of which the American was far more deserving after Rio 2016 when she scooped four gold medals.
It seems they are now handing out prizes for wokeness, and Biles’ win is basically an insult to sport.
To that end, here is a list of just a few candidates who are far more deserving.
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez
Fighting men since he was 15, the Mexican became boxing’s first undisputed super-middleweight champion by stopping the unbeaten Caleb Plant in Las Vegas last month.
— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) November 7, 2021
In 11 months, he fought four times and took each remaining piece of the 168lb crown from unbeaten brawlers in Plant, Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders.
Next year, he also plans to challenge 200lb WBC cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu to become a five-weight king, which is even more incredible considering he started his career as a 140-lb light welterweight.
Rather than being ready to call it a day at 24, as Biles is tipped, Canelo is still looking for the biggest tests possible at 31.
Arguably the toughest athlete that sport has ever seen mentally speaking, the New England Patriots legend now at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, unlike Biles, simply doesn’t know when to quit.
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) February 8, 2021
This is best communicated not only by the comeback victories that his teams seem to mount most weekends and on the biggest of stages, but also by the fact that he is still playing at 44.
At the beginning of the year, he settled the quarterback GOAT debate for once and for all by bagging a seventh Super Bowl ring with his new outfit, which also proved he is not a one-trick system pony under former coach Bill Belichick.
Coming close to being the first tennis player since Rod Laver to do the full Grand Slam of all the top trophies in 2021, the Serbian was evidently exhausted in the US Open final when facing Daniil Medvedev.
Novak Djokovic in 2021:
7th YE No 1
354 weeks at no 1
Another GOAT year! pic.twitter.com/pHuvxyGGtl
— . A⑨ (@NoleLondon) November 20, 2021
Rather than throw in the towel in a huff akin to Biles, however, he soldiered on and lost with grace and dignity to the Russian despite missing out on the landmark achievement.
Aside from equaling Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in all-time Grand Slam wins (20), the world number 1 continues to demonstrate that he is his own man.
Djokovic maintains his firm stance on freedom of choice over the Covid vaccine, even if ostracized by wider society and with his involvement in the upcoming Australian Open in doubt.
Sticking with the tennis world, the 18-year-old had to go through three rounds of qualifying jet-lagged after arriving in New York just to get the chance to feature at the US Open.
It turns out that winning the US Open in your first try will earn you WTA Newcomer of the Year.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) December 7, 2021
Playing in just her second-ever Grand Slam tournament, she claimed top honors at Flushing Meadows without dropping a set amid what she has described as “obstacles”.
Also strong-minded in the same vein as Djokovic, she has said that people having opinions and expectations of her “doesn’t matter”.
In one of sport’s best examples of refusing to give in, the little-known Russian fencer Martyanova hurt her ankle early in the foil team final at Tokyo 2020 and had reason enough to back out.
Instead she soldiered on, and played her part in the Russian Olympic Committee winning a further 14 points to take home gold as they beat France 45-34.
Wheelchaired to the podium and then helped onto it by her teammates, Martyanova admitted that “emotionally it was very hard” and that “she didn’t know what to do”.
“I had to just stand up and do everything,” she added.
The Harper’s Bazaar Woman of the Year won Olympic gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters in the Japanese capital and bronze in the 1,500 meters, making her the first athlete in history to clinch a medal in all three events at the same games.
Before touching down in Asia, she also set a new world record in the 10,000 meters. What sets her apart, though, is that she literally fell in qualifying for the 1,500 meters final in Tokyo, but got up again to continue and go on to achieve her impressive feats across the tournament with six races in eight days in grueling summer heat.
Furthermore, the 1,500 and 10,000 finals were back-to-back on consecutive days.
“In my head there was no room for discussion. I knew I had to get up and keep walking. I didn’t know if I would make it, but I had to at least try. My goal was to get gold in three distances,” she said.
“That’s why getting up was so important to me. If I had stayed down I would have given up and I don’t want to. I do not give up.”
By Tom Sanderson
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.