Top 10 sportspeople of the 2000s: 3. Michael Phelps

michaelphelpsComing in at number three in sportpunter’s Top 10 sportspeople of the last decade is American swimming sensation Michael Phelps.

Phelps’ record in the pool is unprecedented and totally extraordinary. He has won 14 Olympic gold medals which is the most by any individual, a staggering 5 above the next best – Russian gymnast Larissa Latynina. But it was his performance in Beijing that really made him stand out. His eight gold medals was the most that anyone had ever won in any Olympic games, overtaking the previous best of seven by fellow American swimmer Mark Spitz.

Mark Spitz had this to say about Phelps:

Epic. It goes to show you that not only is this guy the greatest swimmer of all time and the greatest Olympian of all time, he’s maybe the greatest athlete of all time. He’s the greatest racer who ever walked the planet.

Rare praise indeed. But it wasn’t only in Beijing where he shined. Four years previous at Athens, Phelps won six gold medals and 2 bronze. And his record at the world championships are not to be taken lightly either.

In 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009 he has won a tally of 21 gold medals and 4 silver. In 2007 he won seven straight gold medals, and was competing for the eighth gold medal in the 4 x 100m medley relay, but his team was disqualified after a false start in the semi-finals.

Phelps didn’t just win races, he smashed them. Time and time again Phelps destroyed previous best world records. At the 2003 World Championships he broke 3 world records. In Athens he broke 2 world records and 3 Olympic records. The 2007 world championships saw him break 5 world records from his seven gold. In his eight gold medal haul at the last Olympics, seven of them were new world records with the other gold an Olympic record. And at the 2009 world championships, four of his five gold medals were in world record time.

Of course swimming is well known for breaking world records, and part of the reason for this is new technology. Full length body suits are helping swimmers smash records and Michael Phelps’ coach believes that a full suit is worth in excess of 1.5 seconds. He knows this because recently German swimmer Paul Biedermann, in full dress, defeated Phelps by 1.22 seconds.

FINA announced that it was going to go back to 20 years ago and make swimmers wear old style costumes because swimmers were winning largely because of their suit. Phelps, who swims topless, said that the sport now is “not swimming, I am looking forward to the day when we are able to call our sport swimming again.”

Phelps is against the new swimming technology and for even competition amongst competitors. Despite the controversy, Phelps is one in a million. He won the World Swimmer of the year award in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2005 the judges must of got sick of Phelps, awarding the award to Grant Hacket who achieved three gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze and the 2005 championships as opposed to Phelps’ five gold and 1 silver.

Who can blame them really? It’s annoying when the same person wins all the time. I showed with previous top 10 sportspeople of the decade how sports get predictable and almost boring when the same people win all the time. Phelps is one of them. Who constantly keeps getting gold and smashing world records and well deserves to make the top 10 sportspeople of the decade.

But wait till you see the top two. Predictable they are. Boring they are not. Dominant and Elite, they are. Who will they be and who will be number one?

Previous Top 10 Sportspeople

4. Lance Armstrong

5. Valentino Rossi

6. Michael Schumacher

7. Zinedine Zidane

8. Serena Williams

9. Kenenisa Bekele

10. Shaquille O’Neal

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Top 10 sportspeople of the 2000s: 4. Lance Armstong

lancearmstrongComing in at number four in sportpunter’s Top 10 sportspeople of the decade is American cyclist Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong started his career as a tri-athlete. In 1989 and 1990 when Armstrong was just 18 and 19, he was the American national sprint-course triathlon champion. However he soon noticed that it was his cycling that was his greatest asset and in 1993 he was one of the youngest riders to win the UCI Road World Championship.

At the USPRO championship, Armstrong, on the final lap, took out a comb from his pocket, combed his hair and smiled for the cameras.

His performances in 1996 suddenly were not up to his usual standard, and on October 2nd, 1996, at age 25, Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer. So advanced was the caner that it had spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain. His doctor suggested that Armstrong had at best a 40% chance of survival.

Not only did Armstrong survive, but he came back fit and determined. In 1999 Armstrong won his first Tour de France by a whopping 7 minutes 37 seconds. However world class cyclists Jan Ullrich and Marco Pantani were not racing due to injuries and drug allegations.

They both raced in 2000, and Armstrong won the Tour de France that year as well, defeating Ullrich by just over six minutes. And it never really stopped from there. Armstrong won every single Tour de France up until 2005, being the first person to win the event seven years in a row. He had a brief comeback in 2009 where he finished in third position.

Being a sport that has been rife with drug allegations and the fact that Armstrong was so dominant, it came no surprise that Armstrong himself was accused of cheating. Armstrong of course has always denied taking performance-enhancing drugs, claiming that he is “the most tested athlete in the world.”

Well maybe outside Ben Cousins. But either way, the ability to come back from a life threatening disease to not only live successfully but compete successfully and be the greatest ever Tour de France competitor is an amazing feat. Some would say his greatest accomplishment was being able to date Sheryl Crow and Kate Hudson. Indeed there would be many men envious of that achievement, but many more would be envious of his cycling records. Sure he had a team to support him, but no other man in history has won so many Tour de France’s, and no other man has done it with such dominance.

Previous Top 10 Sportspeople

5. Valentino Rossi

6. Michael Schumacher

7. Zinedine Zidane

8. Serena Williams

9. Kenenisa Bekele

10. Shaquille O’Neal

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Top 10 sportspeople of the 2000s: 5. Valentino Rossi

rossiComing in at number 5 for the best sportsperson of the last decade is Italian motorbike racer Valentino Rossi.

Rossi burst into the motorcycling racing scene in the year 2000 where he finished second in the 500cc in his first year at that level. Inspired and motivated by Australian racer Mick Doohan, Rossi went on to win the last 500cc tournament in 2001, one of many championships to come.

MotoGP was introduced in 2002, and whilst most racers experienced difficulties with their bikes, Rossi did not. He went on to win eight of the first nine races to blow the championship out the water. He didn’t hold up there, winning in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

But it was his surprise move in 2004 that many see Rossi as one of the worlds best sportspeople in the world today. After finishing up a contract with Honda, Rossi signed to a 2 year contract with Yamaha. Critics of Rossi heralded the end to his dominance, stating that it would be impossible for him to win another championship on a far inferior machine. But he won the championship again in 2004 and backed that up with another championship win, perhaps his finest, with 11 wins and 16 podiums from 17 races, in 2005.

Rossi, on why he decided to change to an inferior bike said in his autobiography “What if I’d never tried it?” Such ability made me place Rossi higher up the ladder of the top ten sportspeople of the decade that Michael Schumacher who had this to say about driving an inferior machine: “It was like trying to fight with a blunted weapon…If your weapons are weak you don’t have a chance”

Rossi indeed, had some blunted weapons the next couple of years as he struggled a little to come to grips with his new upgraded Yamaha. He still managed to finish second and third in 2006 and 2007 respectively, but he came back strong in 2008 and 2009, winning championships in both those years.

In all Rossi had claimed champion in seven of the ten years of the past decade and is one of the biggest paid sportspeople in the world to date with an estimated return of US$34 Million this year.

If only the Italians could make a motorbike that is at least comparable to the Japanese, and every Italian would be drooling over the prospect of seeing Rossi on a Ducati.

Previous Top 10 Sportspeople

6. Michael Schumacher

7. Zinedine Zidane

8. Serena Williams

9. Kenenisa Bekele

10. Shaquille O’Neal

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Top 10 sportspeople of the 2000s: 6. Michael Schumacher

Michael SchumacherComing in at number 6 for the best sportsperson of the last decade is German Formula One racing legend Michael Schumacher.

According to the F1 website, “Statistically, [Schumacher] is the greatest driver the sport has ever seen.” And statistically, they are quite right. Schumacher won the Formula One World Championship five years in a row in the 2000s from the year 2000 through to 2004. This takes his tally to 7 in total, 2 ahead of 1950s Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio. He has recorded 91 race wins, a staggering 40 more than next best Alain Prost, including an equal best record of 7 straight wins in a row. Schumacher holds the record for the most pole positions (68) and the most starts from the front row (115). He has the record for the most fastest laps (76) and equal record for the most fastest laps in any one season (10) shared with Kimi Räikkönen on two occasions. He has the most podium finishes (154) as well as the most podium finishes in any one season. From 30th September 2001 to 13th October 2002 he never failed to finish top 3. Schumacher has the most number of championship points (1369), well ahead of second best Alain Prost on 798.5.

It’s amazing what statistics the F1 record. Schumacher has lead in all races for a total of 5,108 laps, more than 2,000 ahead of next best Aryton Senna. On 40 occasions he had pole position and won and on 22 occasions he recorded the F1 hat trick – Pole, win and fastest lap.

Schumacher was so dominant, that in 2002 he had already won the Formula 1 World Championship with 6 races to go. So dominant he was that the sport became a little boring. Everyone knew who would win and even Ferrari made a laughing stock of it as well. At the Austrian 2002 grand prix, Schumacher’s Ferrari teammate Rubins Barrichello was in the lead for the entire race. With only a lap to go, team orders came through to Barrichello to slow down and allow Schumacher to overtake and win the race. He did, and Schumacher won. This created a lot of controversy and bookmakers even paid out on both winners. Punters might have been happy, but fans were not. Claims of unsportsmanlike behaviour were tossed around.

Later in the year Schumacher slowed down to cross the line at the same time as Barrichello. It wasn’t quite a dead heat, Barrichello won by 0.011 seconds. But it made a laughing stock of the sport, and the only people really laughing were Ferrari. Formula 1 changed the rules at the end of the season, disallowing team rules.

2005 saw more rule changes that would hinder Ferrari’s dominance. Tyres were now required to last an entire race. This meant that teams using Michelin tyres had the advantage over teams on Bridgestone. Ferrari had Bridgestone. Half way through the 2005 season Schumacher commented on the lack of horsepower in the Ferrari car:

“I don’t think I can count myself in this battle any more. It was like trying to fight with a blunted weapon…If your weapons are weak you don’t have a chance”

In 2005 and 2006, Schumacher finished third and second respectively and was even accused and punished of unsportsmanlike like behaviour at the Monaco grand prix when attempting to slow down the lap times of arch rival Fernando Alonso by moving his car onto the race track during Alonso’s qualifying lap.

Schumacher retired at the end of the 2006 season, but there have always been rumours about him racing again. Despite some late mishaps, Michael Schumacher dominated the sport so much that rule changes had to be implemented to curve it.

Michael Schumacher is well worthy to be on the list of top 10 sportspeople of the decade, but will there be any other motorsport people on the list? Valentino Rossi perhaps, or maybe Sebastian Loeb?

And just in case you were wondering, as romantic as it would be, Michael Schumacher is not the stig!

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Top 10 sportspeople of the 2000s: 7. Zinedine Zidane

zidaneComing in at number 7 for the best sportsperson of the last decade is French soccer champion Zinedine Zidane.

How could one possibly have a top 10 sportspeople of the decade list without a soccer player, easily the most popular sport in the world. And French legend Zidane has been the best player, in our opinion, over the span of 2000 to 2010. When most people think about more recent amazing players they start to think of the R’s; Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyone would think all you need to do is name your children something similar and they are sitting on a soccer gold mine. That is probably half the reason why someone like Zidane has slipped a little under the radar for amazingly great players.

Not that any of the Ronald(inh)o’s weren’t great players, but Cristiano Ronaldo has only just started to show his skill since 2008. Ronaldinho starred from 2004 to 2006 winning multiple awards including FIFA world player of the year in 2004 and 2005, and Ronaldo would have been in the top ten for last decades top 10  players of the decade, but not this one. Only Zidane has managed to be one of the best soccer players over a long period of time this decade, from 2000 up until his retirement in 2006.

He’s record is very impressive. Although not this decade, he helped France win the world cup in 1998, and made the final in 2006. Along with Ronaldo, he is one of only two players to receive the FIFA World Player of the year three times, winning it in years 1998, 2000 and 2003. He came third in this award in 2002 and second in 2006. He made the UEFA Team of the year in 2001, 2002 and 2003, as well as making the FIFPro World XI All-Star team in 2005 and 2006. Had that award been available before 2004, I am sure that Zidane would have made it many more times.

Team wise, he helped Real Madrid win the La Liga in 2002 and 2003, the Spanish Super Cup in 2001 and 2003, The UEFA Champions league in 2001 and 2002 as well as the EUFA European Championship in 2000.

He was that big that even a film has been made about him: Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait.

However most will remember him for his last ever soccer match: The 2006 World Cup Final. Personally I was in Paris at the time, a couple of doors down from the Moulin Rouge, squashed up the back of the bar, standing on a table and someone else’s head, but had a pretty good view of the game, despite a chronically sore back the next day and a stomach full of Kronenbourg.

Zidane scored the opening goal with a penalty kick at the seventh minute mark, but Italy equalised only moments later. Zidane almost won the game in extra time, but his header was just tipped over the cross bar by the Italian goal keeper. But who will forget what happened next.

Italian defender Marco Materazzi decided to mouth off a little, and in reply Zidane turned around and head butted the Italian in the chest, knocking him to the ground. Zidane was instantly red carded for the off the ball discrepancy and because the first person ever to be sent off the field in extra time in a World Cup Final. It probably mattered little, except that he was unable to kick in the penalty goal shoot-off. But it was Zidane’s last game, and France missed out on the world cup victory.

All the people in the bar I was in exited in a flash, leaving me finally able to gasp for oxygen and stand upright. My back has never forgiven me.

However, it was an amazing finish for such an amazing player. Whilst he didn’t have the character and personality of any of the Ronald(inh)o’s, he was, in sportspunter’s opinion, the best soccer player of the last decade, and well worthy of a top ten position at number seven.

Previous Top 10 Sportspeople

8. Serena Williams

9. Kenenisa Bekele

10. Shaquille O’Neal

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Initial Baseball Analysis 2009

baseballThe following was originally a post in our forum by Crdog who provides our baseball model.

We finally got our databases completed. The numbers below will be a tad better than whats tallied on the sportpunter site due to its grabbing of the best price available from multiple books instead of just the pinny line, it usually comes to about 1% better. Obviously its are worst season since we started in 03 by far, internally here its our first losing year. The big disappointment is the 5% and up overlays on teams -110 or better, thats been our bread and butter over the years and to come in at -4% turnover, well that hurt really bad. A lot of speculation as to why this happened, breaking it down by league, the NL was the problem, our projections for several teams this year turned out to be horrible. WAS, CHC and NYM really cost us huge.

Interleague did poorly again, although not as bad as usual, theres a couple of adjustments we make in these games involving the pitchers and DHs, however the data suggests that simply put the average AL player is better than the average NL player and a further adjustment will have to be made next season.

The biggest surprise is that the model won overall when including overlays that were faves. This has never happened before, its always lost when betting overlays that were -111 or worse. The fact that the model won overall when including the dismal performance of the dogs means the faves won at an unreal rate. The question is was this a one time type of thing or is there more to it…..

Also of note, we went back to our original pythag method of converting into win probs this season after last season use of a curve fitting conversion. And of course Murphy’s Law set in and the curve fitting method outperformed the pythag. After speaking to friends in the hedge fund arena theyve convinced me to go back w/the curve fitting conversion for next season.

Ive concluded that its type to consult some smarter people on these questions, so in January ill be hanging w/Jonno for a few days in Melbourne, i think he’ll be able to look at things from a fresh point of view and find some answers. In addition, the totals need some work, theyve always won, but never really won much in any particular year.

Here is our internal data, we use a static bankroll and a 1/15 kelly for our databases so dont really pay attention to the dollar figures, the turnover numbers are what matters.

Here are the numbers for the dogs using the pythag version we used this season (-110 or better at 5% and up overlays)

Overlay W L Result $Bet Turnover
5% 108 137 (16,384) 155,108 -10.6%
10% 72 99 (17,931) 132,116 -13.6%
15% 42 65 (17,540) 99,781 -17.6%
20% 28 43 (11,730) 79,058 -14.8%

Overlay W L Result $Bet Turnover
5% 120 127 2,264 210,990 1.1%
10% 83 92 551 184,403 0.3%
15% 57 72 (5,472) 157,075 -3.5%
20% 38 41 2,356 112,793 2.1%

Overlay W L Result $Bet Turnover
5% 31 41 (2,297) 50,579 -4.5%
10% 24 30 (1,518) 45,979 -3.3%
15% 21 25 (384) 42,369 -0.9%
20% 12 12 2,303 28,011 8.2%

Overlay W L Result $Bet Turnover
5% 259 305 (16,417) 416,677 -3.9%
10% 179 221 (18,899) 362,498 -5.2%
15% 120 162 (23,396) 299,225 -7.8%
20% 78 96 (7,071) 219,862 -3.2%

Here are the dogs using the curve fitting conversion:

Overlay W L Result $Bet Turnover
5% 135 180 (11,170) 167,657 -6.7%
10% 66 105 (14,388) 120,765 -11.9%
15% 29 57 (11,874) 74,398 -16.0%
20% 13 34 (10,572) 45,542 -23.2%

Overlay W L Result $Bet Turnover
5% 157 169 16,219 184,474 8.8%
10% 93 106 10,788 141,700 7.6%
15% 43 57 2,210 85,849 2.6%
20% 19 28 193 47,198 0.4%

Overlay W L Result $Bet Turnover
5% 45 60 (4,791) 52,773 -9.1%
10% 21 37 (7,740) 38,528 -20.1%
15% 10 21 (7,484) 25,147 -29.8%
20% 2 10 (6,782) 10,258 -66.1%

Overlay W L Result $Bet Turnover
5% 337 409 258 404,904 0.1%
10% 180 248 (11,341) 300,993 -3.8%
15% 82 135 (17,148) 185,395 -9.2%
20% 34 72 (17,161) 102,998 -16.7%

Model numbers for every overlay including faves using pythag:

Overlay W L Result $Bet Turnover
5% 329 287 10,065 732,848 1.4%
10% 247 205 15,712 643,502 2.4%
15% 156 132 14,374 492,027 2.9%
20% 99 74 30,789 336,851 9.1%

Overlay W L Result $Bet Turnover
5% 304 234 34,015 652,694 5.2%
10% 225 170 34,682 576,112 6.0%
15% 161 125 26,790 485,011 5.5%
20% 103 71 30,771 340,422 9.0%

Overlay W L Result $Bet Turnover
5% 88 92 (28,707) 241,086 -11.9%
10% 64 73 (29,064) 217,557 -13.4%
15% 49 57 (24,190) 186,105 -13.0%
20% 34 33 (10,401) 141,869 -7.3%

Overlay W L Result $Bet Turnover
5% 721 613 15,373 1,626,629 0.9%
10% 536 448 21,330 1,437,171 1.5%
15% 366 314 16,975 1,163,143 1.5%
20% 236 178 51,159 819,143 6.2%

Model numbers for every overlay including faves using curve fitting:

Overlay W L Result $Bet Turnover
5% 202 219 (2,489) 253,748 -1.0%
10% 83 116 (11,144) 155,865 -7.1%
15% 34 59 (9,379) 86,156 -10.9%
20% 13 34 (10,572) 46,844 -22.6%

Overlay W L Result $Bet Turnover
5% 207 200 23,210 242,716 9.6%
10% 109 118 12,959 171,501 7.6%
15% 50 60 6,013 99,775 6.0%
20% 22 28 3,884 51,932 7.5%

Overlay W L Result $Bet Turnover
5% 66 83 (10,123) 89,206 -11.3%
10% 29 45 (10,595) 57,775 -18.3%
15% 10 23 (10,091) 29,997 -33.6%
20% 2 10 (6,782) 11,611 -58.4%

Overlay W L Result $Bet Turnover
5% 475 502 10,598 585,670 1.8%
10% 221 279 (8,780) 385,141 -2.3%
15% 94 142 (13,457) 215,928 -6.2%
20% 37 72 (13,469) 110,387 -12.2%

Havent really poured thru the totals numbers yet, if i find anything interesting ill post later

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Top 10 sportspeople of the 2000s: 8. Serena Williams

serenawilliamsComing in at number 8 for the best sportsperson of the last decade is American tennis ace Serena Williams.

Currently ranked number one in the world, Serena Williams is the younger sister of Venus who has dominated the female tennis tour in the 2000s. In total she has won a staggering 23 grand slams and 2 Olympic gold medals. Ten of these grand slams have been in the last decade in singles tournaments. This makes her equal 9th on the all time number of grand slam wins for a female, and equal 4th with Margaret Court with the most number of singles grand slam victories in the open era. She currently holds both the singles and doubles trophies for the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

Of course with so many victories, comes quite a lot of money. Serena has gained more prize money than any other female athlete in any sport. That’s right, she’s even made more money than Laila Ali! In 2009, Serena became the first person to make a cool six million dollars in a single year. And that doesn’t include endorsements.

Between 2002 and 2003 she won 5 of 6 grand slam tournaments that she entered. For four grand slams in a row (France 2002, Wimbledon 2002, US Open 2002 and Australian Open 2002) Serena and her sister Venus met in all singles grand slam finals. This made the sport kind of boring for a while, which is credit to Serena and Venus. I mean who wants to sit down and watch tennis all day when we already know the end result? Thanks god for Maria Sharapova, who entered the tennis tour around this time and made tennis worthwhile watching again, for maybe different reasons.

Speaking of worthwhile watching, Serena has also fancied herself as a bit of a fashion guru. Her cat suit at the 2002 US Open definitely turned plenty of eyes. It’s just a pity that Ana Ivanovic didn’t think of something earlier. I guess there is still time. Her demin skirt and boots at the US Open in 2004 were also grabbed people’s attention. I’m not sure if she was intending to play tennis or hit the town. Interestingly, she failed to be victorious at both those two tournaments.

Yet despite this Serena has shown her dominance in the female tennis circuit and, in my opinion, is well worthy of making the top ten sportspeople in the last decade.  Do you think Serena should have made the list? What other females will make the top 10? And will tennis great Roger Federer rank higher? Make sure you comment below.

Previous Top 10 Sportspeople:

9. Kenenisa Bekele

10. Shaquille O’Neal

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Top 10 sportspeople of the 2000s: 9. Kenenisa Bekele

KenenisaBekeleComing in at number 9 for the best sportsperson of the last decade is Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele. Ever since the movie The gods must be crazy did the world wake up to the fact that the Africans have a special ability to run, run quick, and run very long distances. In the 1990’s, Ethiopian long distance runner Haile Gebrselassie made himself an instant star, climaxing to his victory at the Sydney Olympics; the third person in history to defend his gold medal at the 10,000 meters. A massive feat it was, and many claimed Gebrselassie to be the greatest long distance track runner of all time.

So why all the talk about Gebrselassie when it is his fellow countryman Bekele who has been nominated at number 9 for the best sportsperson of the last decade? That is because Bekele didn’t just match Gebrselassie’s amazing record, he managed to beat it.

Bekele currently holds the world record and the Olympic record in both the 5,000 meters and the 10,000 meters. Over 10,000 meters Bekele has never been beaten, never. These were his victories at this mileage: Gold at the 2003 Paris World Championships, Gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, Gold at the 2005 Helsinki World Championships, Gold at the 2007 Asaka World Championships, Gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Gold at the 2009 Berlin World Championships.

An amazing record. Even at 5,000 meters he is unbeaten in the last couple of years winning the 2008 Beijing Olympic games, and 2009 Berlin World Championships. Only five people before him had won the 5,000/10,000 meter double at an Olympic games.

Bekele is the most accomplished runner in IAAF World Cross County Championships history with 6 long (12,000 meters) and five short (4,000 meters) titles and was the cross country champion in years 2002 to 2006 and 2008. From 2002 to 2006 Bekele won both the short and long distance race, events that were held in Dublin, Avenches, Brussels, Saint-Étienne and Fukuoka.

Bekele had a setback in 2005 when his fiancée, Alem Techale, a fellow long distance runner, died of a heart attack while training. This death queried many to believe that Bekele might have been involving himself with performance enhancing drugs, however never has Bekele been implemented. It did however effect his running for a short time. After grieving for a month he lost his next two short distance runs. In the later indoor 3,000 meters he lost by sprinting to the finish line one lap too early.

It didn’t take him long to regain composure, just a couple of months after his fiancée’s death Bekele won both the short and long distance world cross country championships.

In 2009 Bekele became the first person in history to take out both long distance victories in the Berlin World Championships. Take a look at the 10,000 meter victory below.

Bekele would have to be arguably the greatest long distance runner of all time. But is it enough to be higher on the list than Usain Bolt? Perhaps Cathy Freeman will make the top 10 sportspeople of the last decade? Voice your opinion in the comments below.

10. Shaquille O’Neal

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Top 10 sportspeople of the 2000s: 10. Shaquille O’Neal

shaqComing in at number 10 for the best sportsperson of the last decade is American Basketball Player Shaquille O’Neal. No player in basketball has had the same influence as the “shaq” in the past ten years. Standing at a daunting 7 foot 1 (216 cm) and weighing 325 pounds (147kg), the shaq is one of the biggest players to play the game. Starting the 2000s playing for the LA Lakers, he took them to championships in the first three years of the decade, winning himself NBA Finals MVP in all three years and regular season MVP in the year 2000. His regular season MVP win in 2000 was just one vote off being the first unanimous MVP win in NBA history.

In 2004 he was traded to Miami heat, a move in which O’Neil specifically said that he was to bring them their first NBA Championship. It didn’t happen straight away, but in 2006 the Miami heat recorded their first ever NBA Championship. O’Neil finished the 2006 season as league leader in field goal percentage, equalling Wilt Chamberlains record of obtaining this feat nine times.

Injuries and age have since hindered his form, but his record in the last decade is not one to look over too lightly. Four NBA Championships, 3 NBA Finals MVP’s, 1 Regular Season MVP (not including a close runner up in  2004/05), NBA All-Star representation from 2000 to 2007 and 2009, and all-NBA First Team representation from 2000 to 2006.

Other basketballers that came into contention for the top 10 are Tim Duncan who won 3 NBA Championships in the 2000s and 2 MVP’s. Kobe Bryant also was a possibility with four NBA Championships, one most recently in 2009, and 1 MVP. However three of Kobe’s championships were alongside the more dominant O’Neal. Maybe we will see another basketballer higher up the list?

Shaquille O’Neal might well have been higher up the list, if it wasn’t for his very forgettable “music career” that spanned five albums.

It’s hard to see someone with a more honourable list of achievements in the last ten years make it higher up top 10 players of the last ten years, but there are.

And tomorrow, we will give you number 9.

Who do you think should be number ten on the list? Should Shaquille O’Neal be higher or lower than fellow basketballers Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant? Make a comment on your opinion below.

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Top 10 sportspeople of the 2000s


Federer? Tiger Woods? Tendulkar? Marion Jones?

Who do you think will make the top 10 sportspeople of the last ten years? Sportpunter will be counting down the list. We are looking at all sports from Javelin to Judo, from baseball to boxing. We’ve looked deep and hard, weighing up all the variables using Sportpunter’s latest mathematical technique to come up with the top ten sportspeople of the last ten years. Unfortunately for all pro wrestling fans, none of your stars made the list. Hulk Hogan didn’t quite make the cut.

But there are plenty of others that well might. Will Kobe Bryant make the list? Johnny Wilkonson or Kelly Slater? And what of the female stars; the Williams sisters, Annika Sörenstam or Cathy Freeman? And who will come in number one?

From this Monday, we will be counting down the top ten. One position per weekday. All crescendoing to the number one sportsperson of the decade on Friday December the 4th.

But the list starts this Monday. Who do you think will make the cut and who will make get the chop? Write your answers in the comments below.

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