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Sporting Winners and Losers of the COVID-19 Lockdown

gareth southgate smiling

Who have been some of the big winners and losers from 2020 COVID summer?

The 2020 summer of sport has been pretty much one to forget, as we saw countless sporting events cancelled; and then, almost worse, played behind closed doors, as governing bodies rushed to get their fixtures completed. Despite the best efforts of the Premier League and Champions League, the summer sporting calendar has basically limped from April to now. We saw some good stuff behind closed doors, but by and large summer 2020 was a loss for all fans and sportsmen alike. There were however some beneficiaries as a result of the pandemic – so here we take a look at the sporting winners and losers of the COVID-19 Lockdown. .

All team sports were played in completely empty stadiums throughout summer 2020 across the globe

Winner – England Football team:

Football’s coming home (well, hopefully next year). England football will definitely benefit from an extra year, as this young, exciting team continues to grow under Gareth Southgate. Coming into March/April, England had the majority of forwards out injured, including Captain Harry Kane and not many of the stars from Russia 2018 setting the Premier League alight.  An extra year lends itself to some of the young talents in the England set up. Phil Foden, Mason Greenwood, Mason Mount and the more established like Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho have a chance to be even more dangerous next year. With all England group matches, the semi-finals and final to be held at Wembley – can football really come home for the 3 lions?

England football fan at World Cup 2018

Loser – Roger Federer

The greatest tennis player of all time. Not least because he continues to be a beast of the sport – winning tour events and competing at every grand slam, well into the 2nd week, after over 20 years on the tour. However, at the age of 39, a year of grand slams missed is a real blow to the great man, who is well into the back end of his career. We would love to see him take a slam again – it would be amazing – but as he will be 40 by the time the US Open comes around, how long can he can keep going?

He missed Wimbledon due to Covid and pulled out of the US and French Open, which are 3 priceless competitions he won’t get back. Lets hope a year’s rest will give him an extra few years into 40’s, where he can still show us his best out on the court!!

Winner – Sky Brown

Tipped to be a GB golden girl, at 12 years old, becoming GB’s youngest ever Olympian.

We were expecting massive things from Sky Brown at the Tokyo Olympics this year – her YouTube videos are incredible; her Instagram is full of death defying stunts; and with skateboarding making its debut at the Olympics this year, everything was set up very special for the young superstar. 

However, performing a trick in the lead up to the games, she had a horrific fall on a halfpipe, in which she suffered skull fractures and broken bones to her arm and hand. The fall happened in June and would have absolutely seen her miss out on her chance of representing GB in Tokyo. However, with the Olympics delayed a year, she will be fully recovered, sharp on the board and a year more experienced to try and bring home the first skateboarding gold.

Loser – Mo Farah

One of GB’s greatest track Olympians – the man who won the double double (2012/2016 5km & 10km gold medals) and retired from track running shortly after to switch his focus to marathon running. As if he hasn’t ran enough, he wants more miles through the legs, by working at the longer event, with a focus of running at an Olympics. Not a surprise he is elite on the marathon circuit too, despite the massive increase in distance – and he actually won the Chicago marathon in 2018. 

However, he is on our COVID loser list because he is not the spring chicken he was during London 2012. Yes, he is a legend, and yes, he still has the pace and ability, but how much will an extra year (taking him to 38 by the time the 2021 Tokyo Olympics comes around) impact the bones, the muscles and amazing stamina needed to complete the marathon at his current PB of 2:05?

Lets hope he can still take things home next year, adding to his Olympic and World Championships medal haul.

Winner – Bayern Munich

Now this may be a little harsh on Bayern and take away the amazing achievement in winning the Champions League against PSG in a closed door stadium. They have had a fantastic season and have been transformed under new coach Flick, taking them to multiple trophies, playing some beautiful, slick football. The champions League is without doubt the highlight of their brilliant year, but has Covid helped them out somewhat in achieving that crown?

The competition concluded in straight knockout games, with only one leg behind closed doors in Portugal, rather than the usual 2 leg games up to the final. With tournament favourites Man City, under Pep – it is felt that they bowed out of the competition early, losing to a spirited Lyon side. You cant help but think City would have never lost that tie against Lyon over 2 legs. The quality they have in that side: Aguero, Sterling, De Bruyne, can turn around any tie and you have to think they would have got further without that slip up against Lyon. Even Bayerns win themselves in the semi final rout against Barcelona, winning 8-2, highlighting frailties the Catalan side have never quite seen before. Again here, would this happen over 2 legs, including a trip to the Nou camp in front of nearly 100,000 Barca fans?

However, you play to your surroundings and you play to win – however that may be. So as not to take it away from Bayern, they were a formidable side and a team that is very much deserving of the title.

Losers – Tom Bosworth

Not a household name but Tom Bosworth is a GB race walker and the British record holder, who was destined for Tokyo medals this year. The impact of Covid meant that multiple tour events have been cancelled over the summer, leading to a major financial impact to Bosworth. He has been quoted saying he may well have to retire from the sport much earlier than planned, purely so he can pay the bills. Sport England funding goes so far, but losing income in the realms of £10k-£20k per appearance, you can understand that this will leave a dent in the pocket for a less commercial sport and sportsmen.

Not only this, he was very confident of a medal and was in the shape of his life going into the summer this year. Things got crueller when he and his wife actually caught the virus, causing him to finish his entire season early. It is unsure what the longer term impact of that will be on his performance, but he will be gutted to have missed valuable opportunities for funding and prize money. 

Lets hope he can keep going to next year, secures the funding to compete and takes home a medal for that hard work and tough bad luck!!

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