Shiffrin dominant, Osaka breakthrough: Women’s sport in 2018
Mikaela Shiffrin and Alina Zagitova starred in Pyeongchang to claim Olympic golds, before Naomi Osaka announced her arrival at the top echelon of tennis in style as gymnast Simone Biles rediscovered her best.
— American Chloe Kim, then only 17, went into the women’s Olympic snowboarding halfpipe competition as a red-hot favourite and did not disappoint. She finished almost 10 points clear of China’s silver medallist Liu Jiayu, becoming the youngest woman to land two consecutive 1,080-degree spins at an Olympics.
— Figure skater Zagitova produced a series of jaw-dropping displays in the 2017/18 season, culminating in a magnificent gold-medal winning performance in Pyeongchang at the age of just 15. The Russian broke the world record in the short programme and narrowly held off compatriot Evgenia Medvedeva after a dramatic free skate competition.
— Alpine skiing star Shiffrin sealed her second straight overall World Cup title in style, signing off with a 12th victory of the season in the closing slalom in Are, Sweden. The 23-year-old Olympic giant slalom champion has already opened up a 501-point gap in the new campaign after taking her staggering haul of World Cup career wins to 50.
— Lyon won their third straight women’s Champions League crown with a 4-1 extra-time victory over Wolfsburg in Kiev. The French side were held to a goalless draw in 90 minutes, but Norwegian star Ada Hegerberg was among the scorers as they netted four times in the extra half-hour to add to their 2016 and 2017 titles.
— Thai golfer Ariya Jutanugarn overcame a back-nine collapse to grab her second major title at the US Open. The 23-year-old led by seven shots at the halfway stage of the final round before dropping five shots in the closing holes, only to edge out South Korea’s Kim Hyo-joo in a play-off. Ariya will end the year as the world number one.
— Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith delivered on her undoubted potential with a stunning treble of 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay golds at the European athletics championships in Berlin. The then 22-year-old set new world leads and national records in both the individual events, clocking 10.85sec and 21.89sec in the 100 and 200 respectively.
— Japanese youngster Osaka announced herself on the world stage by lengthening Serena Williams’ wait for a record-equalling 24th tennis Grand Slam singles title. The 21-year-old overpowered the home favourite 6-2, 6-4 to take her first major tournament victory, although the match was overshadowed by Williams’ infamous outburst at umpire Carlos Ramos.
— Over two years since winning four gold medals at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, pocket dynamo Biles claimed four titles at the artistic gymnastics world championships. The American, who took a one-year hiatus in 2017, suffered with kidney stones the night before the qualification rounds in Doha, but brushed that aside to clinch a record fourth all-around world crown.
— Australia’s women’s cricket team won a record-extending fourth World Twenty20 title in the Caribbean, ending a brief barren spell. They avenged their 2016 final loss to the West Indies in the last four, before thrashing England by eight wickets to lift the trophy.
— The 23-year-old Hegerberg was rewarded for her excellent season and Champions League exploits by being named the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or winner. She had to bat away a question from host Martin Solveig asking her if she knew how to ‘twerk’ at an awkward awards ceremon