A Magical Year of Sport
2020 promises a feast of sport with the Euros, the Olympic Games and the Ryder Cup. David Fearnhead takes us through the sporting year ahead
If it’s sunshine you’re after you’ll have two weeks of it beamed into your homes as the Australian Open tennis begins in January. Andy Murray, a five-time runner-up in Melbourne, faces a race to fitness following his radical hip surgery. (Eurosport 20th January – 2nd February). Liverpool will be hoping to banish the January blues as the FA Cup sees a Merseyside derby against Everton on 5th January live on the BBC. The month provides two full rounds of FA Cup action with the fourth round taking place on the weekend of 25th January.
1st February sees the start of the Six Nations rugby with holders Wales taking on Italy in the principality. World Cup finalists England begin their challenge in Paris. Matches will be broadcast on both the BBC and ITV. Or you could watch it on the big screen at Clitheroe Rugby Club, where Chairman Bob Wilkinson always offers a friendly welcome.
The Six Nations ends on 15th March with England meeting Wales on 7th March. National Hunt racing arrives at the Cheltenham Festival (ITV 10th – 13th March) followed quickly by races of the two-legged variety with the World Indoor Athletics Championships (BBC 13th – 15th March). The month ends on the water with the 166th meeting of the Boat Race (BBC 29th March).
Saturday 4th April sees the Grand National from Aintree (ITV). The Gordon Elliot trained Tiger Roll became the first horse since Red Rum in 1974 to win back to back Nationals in 2019. He could well be favourite again despite an injury requiring surgery in November. From Tiger Roll to Tiger Woods as April also brings a return to Augusta for The Masters. Last year Woods stunned golf by ending his decade-long drought in the Majors. Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka will once again head the pack looking to win their first Green Jacket (SkySports 9th – 12th April).
May is the month of Cup Finals and title deciders. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City did the domestic treble last season, but with the league seemingly slipping away they will be looking to Europe for glory in 2020, where they could well face likely Premier League champions, Liverpool.
The Champions League Final takes place on 30th May (BT Sport). Last May saw a crowd of over 43,000 travel to Wembley to watch the Women’s FA Cup final between Manchester City and West Ham. Arsenal and Chelsea look the main contenders for City’s FA Cup crown on 9th May (BBC), with Women’s Super League honours being decided on 15th May (BBC/BT Sport).
All eyes will be on England in June for Euro 2020 which runs for a full month (BBC/ITV 12th June – 12th July). The unique format sees 12 cities throughout Europe host matches. England are favourites and have three home group matches (14th, 19th, 23rd June), with the semi-finals and final also to be played at Wembley. Could 57 years of hurt finally be coming to an end?
The British sporting summer also sees horse racing from Royal Ascot (ITV 16th – 20th June) tennis from Wimbledon (BBC 29th June – 12th July) and the British Open golf from Royal St George (SkySports 16th – 19th July).
Dina Asher-Smith will be head British Olympic hopes in Tokyo. The sprinter will be aiming to add an Olympic title to her gold in 200m at the 2019 World Championships – 1st August sees her compete in the 100m final, with the 200m final run on 4th August. Katharina Johnson-Thompson’s heptathlon gold at the 2019 World Championships was as emotional as it was brilliant.
She is in competition on 5th and 6th August where she will renew her friendly rivalry with Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam, the reigning Olympic champion (BBC 24th July – 9th August).
September means Doncaster and the St Ledger, the oldest of the five classics having been first run in 1776 (ITV 12th September). The month also brings a welcome return of the greatest contest in golf as Europe head to Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, to try and win once more on US soil. The last time the teams contested the Ryder Cup stateside it was the Americans who ran away winners. European pride was restored in Paris 2018, thanks in no small measure to the magical partnership of Italian Francesco Molinari and Southport’s Tommy Fleetwood (SkySports 25th – 27th September).
Then we end where the year began, in Australia. England will be hoping to go one better in The T20 Cricket World Cup than their runners-up spot in 2016 (SkySports 18th October – 15th November).