Champion of Champions 2008  

Posted by T ZAMAN in

Choose Your favourite Sports performer from 2008. From November 28th, www.ESPNSTAR.com, alongside SportsCenter India, Asia & Malaysia, and Score Tonight will be conducting a joint initiative Online and On Air to decide the Sports Personality to have made the biggest impact on sport in the calendar year 2008.

The criteria for selection are that the "nominee" should have made an "impact" on sport during the year 2008. It is not solely a performance related vote. It is your vote that will decide who wins.

Below, you'll see a list of sixteen athletes who have excelled in 2008. When voting opens, we're looking for you to decide exactly who was the "Best of the Best."

Sourav GANGULY
In October, India’s most successful Test captain announced his retirement from international cricket. As of October 2008, the Calcutta-born Ganguly is India's most successful Test captain, winning 21 Tests out of 49. He also led India into the 2003 World Cup Final. Ganguly is credited with having nurtured the careers of many young players who played under him. The left-handed Ganguly has over 11,000 One Day International runs to his credit, but despite this ODI success, and his stellar time as captain, his Test place was often lost to younger players towards the later stages of his career. He often polarised opinion.
Kobe Bryant
Remember the "I want to be traded" saga when Kobe Bryant expressed his anger? The 30-year-old inspired his team, the Los Angeles Lakers, to reach the NBA Finals last season and received the MVP accolade for his remarkable performance during the regular season. The American also went on to help Team USA to win back the golden honour. This 6'6" man was also awarded the All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team.
Michael PHELPS
American swimmer, Michael Phelps, won an unprecedented eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympic Games. That took his career tally to 14 Olympic golds - the most by any Olympian. He has 16 Olympic medals in all. As of August 2008, he also held seven swimming world records. Out of his eight gold medals from Beijing, five were won in individual events, tying the record for individual gold medals at a single Olympic Games. For a week in August, 6’4” Phelps held centre stage in the sporting world, and delivered on every single occasion.
MS Dhoni
As Indian cricket prepares for life without the ‘Fab Four’, MS Dhoni has established himself as the leader of the next generation. His performances in leading India’s teams in Twenty20 and One Day Internationals in 2008 have propelled him to the top of the pecking order in Indian cricket. Initially seen as a flamboyant and destructive batsman, Dhoni has come to be regarded as one of the coolest heads to captain the Indian ODI side. Under his captaincy, India won the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, CB Series against Australia and the IDEA Cup against Sri Lanka. He is currently ranked the best ODI batsman in the world by the ICC and was awarded the ODI Player of the Year award in 2008 - the first Indian player to achieve this feat.
Cristiano Ronaldo
"Ronaldo is better than George Best and Denis Law," said the legendary Johan Cruyff in an interview in April 2008. The 23-year-old Portuguese international then went on to win a Champions League and Premier League double with Manchester United, scoring over 40 goals in the process, and was then the subject of a summer of turmoil as United and Real Madrid battled for his signature. Ronaldo promptly missed the start of the new campaign with injury, but compensated for it by being named FIFPro Player of the Year. Always in the headlines, it’s hard to think of a more high-profile footballer throughout the year.
Rafael Nadal
2008 was the year when Rafael Nadal finally overtook Roger Federer to become World number 1. It was also the year when he beat Federer in arguably the greatest match ever seen in a Wimbledon final. Additionally, he was crowned Olympic Champion in Beijing, and won the French Open at Roland Garros in May. He has five Grand Slam titles to his name. For much of his career, Nadal has had a rivalry with Federer that many critics consider the greatest ever in tennis history. They are the only men in the open tennis era to have played each other in six Grand Slam finals. Nadal was ranked World number 2 behind Federer for a record 160 weeks before earning the top spot in August. On October 18 the Spaniard clinched the year-end World number 1 ranking for 2008.
Nicol David
Malaysia’s Nicol is the World number 1 ranked squash player and the first Asian to top the sport’s rankings. She is the current World Open and British Open Champion having won both of those prizes in 2005 and 2006 as well. In July, Nicol David was among 497 honoured in conjunction with the 70th birthday of the Penang Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas. The Penang-born Nicol, became the youngest person from the Malaysian island to be conferred a Datukship.
Abhinav Bindra
Despite standing just 5’8" tall and weighing in at a slight 65 kilogrammes, Abhinav Bindra has proved to be a giant for Indian sport in 2008. His gold medal in the 10-metre Air Rifle event at the Olympic Games in Beijing was India’s first Olympic gold for 28 years. The 26-year-old is also the current world champion in the 10-metre Air Rifle event. But for a few short days in August, he made India forget about its cricketers, and focus on another sport.
Lewis Hamilton
22-year-old Briton, Lewis Hamilton, won his first F1 Drivers’ Championship in 2008. After being pipped to the 2007 title by just a single point in his rookie F1 season in 2007, the Hertfordshire-raised Hamilton went one better this season after recording victories in Australia, Monaco, Britain, Germany and China.
Sir Alex Ferguson
The legendary Sir Alex Ferguson guided his team to a Premier League and European Cup double 25-years after winning his first European Trophy with Aberdeen. Many thought that Chelsea had left Manchester United behind when they won back-to-back titles, but Ferguson rebuilt his side so that the 2007-08 season would go down in folklore.
Usain Bolt
Was there a more exhilarating moment throughout the 2008 sporting calendar than Usain Bolt’s chest-thumping world-record setting victory in the Olympic games’ 100-metre final? The 22-year-old Jamaican was criticized in some quarters for over-celebrating that victory, but responded by setting new world-best times in the 200m and 4x400 metre finals - both of which secured gold medals. Bolt became the first man in history to set world records in all three at a single Olympics. His name and achievements in sprinting have earned him the media nickname "'Lightning' Bolt".
Sachin Tendulkar
Shane Warne describes "The Little Master" as the greatest player he has played with or against. Wisden rank him the second greatest Test batsman, and the second-best One Day International batsman. Sir Donald Bradman named him in his "Bradman’s XI" dream team. His key milestone for 2008 came in October when he surpassed Brian Lara’s record for the most runs in Test cricket, and became the first batsman to score 12,000 Test runs. The Tendulkar legend will end at some time, but 2008 proved that there is still plenty of batting left in India’s iconic bat.
Fernando Torres
A record-breaking 24-goal haul for Liverpool in his debut season in the Barclays Premier League was one thing, but for 24-year-old Spanish striker Fernando Torres, scoring the winner for his country as they ended 44 years of pain by winning Euro 2008 was the high-point of an incredible year. Signed by Liverpool from Atletico Madrid, Torres top scored for his new club in the Premier League and equalled a Liverpool record by scoring in eight consecutive home matches.
Tiger Woods
The abiding image of Tiger Woods in 2008 will be him limping his way in obvious discomfort to victory in an 18-hole play-off at the US Masters. It was a rare sight to see Woods struggling, but it also marked him out as a true Champion. He had no need to continue as he already held 13 major Titles. But this was Tiger Woods, the fighter. Two days after securing Major number 14, he was in hospital for a knee operation and will be off the Tour for up to 10 months.
Manny Pacquiao
WBC World Lightweight Boxing Champion, Manny Pacquiao, is the "Ring Magazine" pound-for-pound World number 1 ranked boxer. An accolade afforded him after Floyd Mayweather, Jr. announced his retirement from boxing. The Filipino was also the former WBC Super Featherweight Champion, Ring Magazine Super Featherweight and Featherweight champion, World champion at IBF Super Bantamweight and WBC Flyweight. He’s the first Asian to win four world titles in different weight divisions
Valentino Rossi
World MotoGP Champion, Valentino Rossi, is one of the most successful motorcycle racers of all time with eight Grand Prix World Championships to his name. He is also one of the highest earning sports personalities in the world. In 2008, Rossi became MotoGP Champion for the fifth time regaining the crown in his first season with Honda. He began his Grand Prix racing career in 1996 and subsequently won the 125cc World Championship. Twelve years later, the 29-year-old Italian has won 97 of his 210 GP starts, and made the podium in 151 of those races.

How-to-vote
The mechanism to decide the winner is as follows:
  1. Sixteen sports personalities have been shortlisted.
  2. This list has been chosen by a group of ESPN STAR Sport representatives. From now on, it's your choice on who wins.
  3. The voting mechanism will be in the form of a knock-out.
    1. The 16 will be paired against each other in a knockout draw shown Live on SportsCenter on Friday, November 28th.
    2. Pairings will then be made available for the public to cast their votes for a set period.
    3. The "winner" (i.e. the person with the bigger percentage of votes cast) will go through to the next round – while the loser is "eliminated"
  4. This is repeated for a Quarter Final, Semi Final and Final with the winner announced on SportsCenter on December 31st.

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