The first month of 2023 picked up right where 2022 left off, with some unbelievable sports highlights already on display. From record breaking titles to moving moments that united the sporting world, let’s take a look at what January had to offer.
1. Novak’s 22nd
Novak Djokovic is no stranger to winning major titles, but his victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in January’s Australian Open final is one that will be remembered for years to come. This was Djokovic’s 22nd Grand Slam win, placing him alongside Rafa Nadal as the two players with the most Grand Slam wins in tennis history. The 36 year old Djokovic was able to overcome an opponent 12 years his junior in Tsitsipas. With Djokovic and Nadal now seniors in the tennis world, each major trophy win adds fuel to the fire in the conversation of who will be remembered as the greatest tennis player of all time. Check out the winning scenes from Novak.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 1, 2023
2. 9 Dart Insanity
Darts history took place this January, capturing the attention of sports fans worldwide. In the Darts World Championship final, Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith went head to head, battling it out for darts’ biggest trophy. In a leg that is certain to be remembered as the greatest in the history of darts, both players set themselves up to achieve a 9 dart finish. Van Gerwen stepped up first, and while the first two of his final three darts were perfect, the all important last one was not. The disappointment of the crowd at not seeing a perfect finish was instantly erased, as Smith followed up with three perfect darts, achieving a 9 dart finish and sending the crowd, and commentators, wild. Watch the magic moment back here.
3. Chiefs Viral Trickery
Andy Reid, the Head Coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, is someone known for his creativity in play design. However, in a crucial divisional game vs the Las Vegas Raiders, Reid pulled out all the stops in order to get the win and fight for the AFC’s number one seed. A trick play unlike any ever seen before in NFL history was attempted by the Chiefs, and while they managed to score a touchdown from it, a penalty flag unfortunately meant the points did not count. Nevertheless, the moment had fans everywhere in disbelief, and it will surely be shown on sports highlights reels for years to come. Take a look at the trickery!
4. Bulldogs Run Rampant
More football now, this time from the world of college sports. In the College Football National Championship, number 3 ranked TCU, a team whose high performance level this season shocked many, faced off against the number one ranked Georgia Bulldogs. While the excitement leading up to the game from TCU fans was unbridled, it quickly died down, sadly for them. After Georgia opened the scoring with a QB run for a touchdown, the day didn’t get much better for TCU, as the Bulldogs demolished them 65-7. Check out the opening score from the resounding victory.
5. Arsenal’s Frantic Finish
The Premier League title race continued to heat-up this January, with leaders Arsenal needing to keep as much distance from their challengers as possible in order to cement their place atop the table. In a back and forth game between Arsenal and fourth placed Manchester United, Arsenal found themselves tied 2-2 as the game entered its final minutes. A draw in this game would allow second placed Manchester City to close the gap to just three points between themselves and the Gunners. However, in the very last minute of the game, Eddie Nketiah crowned himself as hero for the night, netting his second goal of the game, and clinching the win for Arsenal. The match meant so much to the team from the onset, check out the pandemonium after the goal was scored!
6. Buzzer Beater Controversy
Another late finish, this time from the NBA. With the Utah Jazz trailing the Sacramento Kings with just seconds left in the game, Lauri Markkanen completed what he thought was a game tying buzzer beater, sending the crowd wild. However, there was no overtime to be had, after a video review determined that the ball had not left Markkanen’s hands before the buzzer sounded, and thus, the points didn’t count. A crushing blow for the Jazz in what was so close to being an unbelievable moment of brilliance.
7. Wrexham’s Underdog Story
The story of Wrexham is an unlikely one. A Welsh club in the fifth division, the team have seen a Hollywood story play out right before their eyes after the club was bought by famous actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny in 2020. Since the club was purchased, there has been major improvement on and off the field, with stellar new players brought in, and the club edging closer and closer to promotion, as well as a documentary produced by the owners titled Welcome to Wrexham, helping the club gain a new level of notoriety. This season, Wrexham have put together a remarkable run in the FA Cup, managing to reach the competition’s 4th round. After defeating second division side Coventry in a stunning win in the 3rd round, the team faced another second division opponent in Sheffield United. Going into the game as huge underdogs, Wrexham put together a mighty performance, fighting back from 1-0 down to lead the game 3-2 in its final seconds. To the heartbreak of the fans and the owners, Sheffield United scored a last minute equalizer, meaning the game finished in a tie. Wrexham will have a chance at redemption, however, as a replay will be held to determine who will progress to the next round. Take a look at the emotions Ryan Reynolds went through as he watched from the stands!
8. Lifeguard Defies the Odds
A story that sounds like it’s been plucked from a movie script: surfing’s premier competition, the Eddie Aikau Contest, won by an on-duty lifeguard. This year, it wasn’t John John Florence, or surfing legends like Kelly Slater or Bruce Irons standing on top of the podium, instead, Luke Shepardson took the title. Shepardson competed as he took breaks from his position in the lifeguard’s watch tower, with his stunning performance enough for the judges to score him an 89 out of 90, besting the scores of all the surfing professionals that took part. A truly remarkable story that will go down in sports highlights history!
9. Ronaldo vs. Messi, Once More
A historic rivalry and a major debate, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo faced off on the pitch for what could very well be the final time. After Ronaldo’s January move to Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr, a friendly was held between a Saudi All-Star team, facing off against Messi’s PSG. Messi was the first name on the scoresheet, opening the scoring just 3 minutes into the game, before Ronaldo scored two goals of his own. The stars shared an embrace on the field as fans everywhere took in the chance to watch two of the greatest ever to set foot on a soccer field do so once more. Take a look at some of the game’s best moments.
10. Snooker Invader
Pitch invaders are common in many sports, but we think this may be the first instance of an intruder in snooker history! During the English Open this January, snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan found himself face to face with an invader. O’Sullivan was well humored, as were the security guards, who allowed the invader to have her moment of fun. O’Sullivan even handed over his cue to allow a shot at the black ball to be made! Take a look at the comedy invasion here.
11. Damar Hamlin Captures Hearts
A shocking moment that united the NFL and sporting world occurred this January, as Buffalo Bills star Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the field mid-game. As fans awaited news on his recovery, support was shown through donations to Hamlin’s own charitable foundation, with fans, players, and owners helping raise over $8m in honor of Hamlin. Thankfully, he was able to begin making a successful recovery, so much so that he was present during the Bills playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals just weeks later. Check out the love Hamlin received from fans upon his return back. We continue to wish Damar well on his way to a full recovery.
Bonus – Parakeet Pandemonium!
When Leyton Orient fans set off to watch their team host Doncaster this January, the last thing they expected to find at the stadium was a flock of parakeets! Watch as the exotic birds made themselves at home mid game.