Elite sport is gradually returning to our screens amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany's Bundesliga, the UFC and the NRL were among the first top-level events to forge a route back last month after pausing due to the global crisis.

A clutch of Europe's other top football leagues, cricket, motorsport and the United States' major competitions all have designs on behind-closed-doors resumptions in the near future, too, which could create a significant backlog of crucial fixtures.

One positive is that sports fans might now be treated to a number of colossal match-ups back-to-back on the same day at some point over the coming months.

That prospect gives us the opportunity to reflect on five similar occasions with the greatest sporting days since the turn of the century - including one exactly a year ago.

 

JULY 23, 2000

The US had a day to remember as two of their most prominent stars bolstered their still burgeoning reputations with big victories on foreign soil.

The paths of Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong have subsequently diverged a little, however.

Woods became the youngest player to complete golf's career grand slam with a record-breaking victory at The Open in 2000, while Armstrong wrapped up a second straight Tour de France title.

The American duo stood at the top of the world, yet history will recall Armstrong's achievements rather differently now he has been stripped of each of his seven successive yellow jerseys for doping.

Woods at least maintained his high standards and held all four major titles after the 2001 Masters, winning again at Augusta as recently as last year.

FEBRUARY 1, 2004

Two more sporting greats shared the same special page in the calendar early in 2004.

It was a long day for anyone who took in both Roger Federer's performance in Melbourne's Australian Open final and Tom Brady's Super Bowl display in Houston, but they were duly rewarded.

Twenty-time grand slam champion Federer had won just one major before facing down Marat Safin in Australia, also becoming the ATP Tour's top-ranked player for the first time. He stayed at number one for a record-shattering 237 weeks.

Brady similarly then doubled his tally of Super Bowl rings by delivering a second triumph in three years for the Patriots, in what was a classic encounter against the Carolina Panthers.

Brady threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns, before Adam Vinatieri's field goal secured a 32-29 win with four seconds remaining.

AUGUST 4-5, 2012

One would struggle to find a greater array of star-studded athletes of various sports than those who congregated in London across the penultimate weekend of the 2012 Olympic Games.

On the Saturday evening, at the Aquatics Centre, swimming prepared to say goodbye to its greatest name. Michael Phelps and the United States won the 4x100m medley, clinching his 18th gold medal in what appeared set to be his final race.

Indeed, Phelps confirmed his retirement following the Games, only to return in predictably dominant fashion in 2016.

Across the city that same night, Team GB athletes were capping a stunning run of medals that would see the day dubbed "Super Saturday". There were six home golds in all, including big wins for Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah in quick succession.

The drama only continued the next day, too, as Andy Murray finally sealed a Wimbledon win over Federer in the tennis event, while Usain Bolt lit up London Stadium in the 100m.

JUNE 1, 2019

It is 12 months to the day since another epic sporting stretch, one that concluded in stunning fashion with one of boxing's great modern upsets.

Rugby union and football each had their respective turns in the spotlight earlier, with Saracens following up their European Champions Cup success - a third in four years - by retaining the Premiership title with victory over Exeter Chiefs.

In Madrid, two more English teams were in action as Liverpool edged past Tottenham in the Champions League final.

But as Sarries and the Reds celebrated, focus turned towards Madison Square Garden where Anthony Joshua was expected to make light work of Andy Ruiz Jr, a replacement for Jarrell Miller following a failed drugs test.

The heavyweight title match did not go to script, however, as Ruiz floored Joshua four times and forced a stoppage to claim his belts, albeit only until the rematch where the Briton saved face.

JULY 14, 2019

These crazy spectacles have largely seen sport spread throughout the day, but three sets of eyes were required to keep up with the action on an epic afternoon last July.

With England hosting and then reaching the Cricket World Cup final, the scene-stealing decider fell on the same day as the Wimbledon men's final and the British Grand Prix, ensuring the United Kingdom was the focus of the sporting world.

The cricket started off several hours before either the tennis or the F1 but still managed to outlast its rival events, with Ben Stokes determined to put on a show as England won via a dramatic Super Over at the end of a nine-hour saga against New Zealand.

Novak Djokovic was battling Stokes for attention as he was taken all the way by that man Federer at the All England Club before finally prevailing 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) in the tournament's longest singles final.

The respective classics made the British GP, completed earlier in the day, something of an afterthought - but not for Lewis Hamilton, who claimed a record sixth victory.

Several years ago my parents signed me up for swimming lessons. They were offered at my prep school as an extracurricular activity. It wasn’t a bad idea since I was notorious for staying at school late. The lessons were also free. I started but stopped— something felt out of place.

Every now and then I’m reminded that I didn’t continue. I’m from Jamaica so when my friends and I visit public pools like Mayfair on West King’s House Road, Christar Villa and UTech’s swimming pool on Old Hope Road, we sit on the edge of the pool with our feet in the water. On the days we feel braver, we’d sit on the steps that lead into the shallow part of the pool— allowing the water to get somewhere past our ankles.

Like other prep schools, mine was expensive. The grounds were big. Facilities were generous. Teachers drove nice cars. Food options were healthy and most children had iPods and fancy bags with wheels like they were just coming from the airport.

During the semester, the chances of a pool party happening were high. The birthday boy/girl would issue the invitations at school. Invitations were given at a premium. They would hand them out after classes as instructed by a teacher. Of course, the teacher was trying her endeavour best to make sure we weren’t distracted from class. The attempt was usually a failure. The wait was intense. Throughout the day, persons would try to befriend the inviter by bringing up any memory they had in common, just in the hope of getting a verbal invite if they weren’t on ‘the list’. “Remember that time I pushed you on the swings?” When I’d get invited verbally, I’d feel like an outcast at the party.

Even though most of us did swimming together, it wasn’t enough to make me feel a part of the group. My classmates, who genuinely got invited had more in common with the birthday boy/girl. They had similar complexion, hair type, body type and financial status, or so I believed anyway.

On Alia Atkinson’s YouTube page, ‘Watabound’, Jim Ellis speaks about diversity in swimming. He explains that a swimmer shouldn’t have to leave their community to learn how to swim. A strange environment can make them feel intimidated. When there’s no camaraderie with teammates because of differences in social status or race, it can demotivate potential and professional swimmers.

An interview titled ‘Live chat with Alia Atkinson: world record holder in 50m breast’ premiered on June 24th 2019.

Jamaica is a majority black country, but at the same time, the differences among the blacks is tangible.

In the interview, Atkinson said, “ if you have a swimmer and she’s the only person of colour on the team you have to treat her differently than everybody else in the sense of ‘hey, how are you doing today?’” She recommends that coaches check in on athletes emotionally and mentally, especially when an athlete is different from everyone else. She continued by saying, everybody has a responsibility to open the door for somebody else. It’s important to look out for others from the sport who may be struggling.

My differences weren’t embraced. Consequently, I stopped swimming. My dreams of gliding through the water with impressive strokes didn’t seem practical because other swimmers didn’t look like me.

Please share your thoughts about differences and how they are treated in sport, any sport.

Share those thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

The World Aquatics Championships have been moved from 2021 to 2022 in order to avoid a clash with the rescheduled Olympic Games.

Tokyo 2020 was pushed back by 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic and will now take place from July 23 until August 8, 2021.

That coincided with the planned dates for the World Aquatics Championships, which will now be held from May 13-19, 2022 in Fukuoka.

International Swimming Federation (FINA) president Julio Maglione said: "After liaising with the relevant stakeholders and receiving feedback from them, we have no doubt that the decision taken will provide the best possible conditions for all participants at the Championships.

"We look forward to witnessing the world's best aquatic athletes from around the world competing in the city of Fukuoka in 2022.

"At a time of unprecedented uncertainty, FINA hopes the announcement of these dates will allow for some clarity in planning for all concerned."

Katie Ledecky is hitting her books at Stanford rather than worrying about the Tokyo Olympics - but she is missing the thrill of competition during the coronavirus crisis.

Four years ago in Rio, Ledecky was the most decorated female competitor at the Games with four gold medals and a silver in the swimming pool. United States team-mate Simone Biles grabbed four gold and a bronze in gymnastics.

Freestyle maestro Ledecky had hoped to go for the top podium step again in Japan this year, but the global health crisis put paid to that.

Now 23, Ledecky faces a further year's wait before she can challenge for more Olympic glory, and it is the uncertainty over when competition of any kind can begin that complicates the life of many a top athlete.

The US Olympic trials will take place in June 2021, so Ledecky at least has a sense of when she needs to find peak form.

"I'm happy to have something to be shooting for, but we have a lot of meets we want to have between now and then and we want to resume normal training," Ledecky said on Saturday.

"It's hard right now to plan things out but we're doing the best we can. We're taking it day by day and trying to win each day."

Speaking in a Yahoo Sports and Women's Sports Foundation call, Ledecky explained how studying had helped. She is majoring in psychology.

"I'm still a student at Stanford so i just started some spring quarter classes this past week," she said. "It's been really great to keep my mind active and do something productive during this time."

The daily routines Ledecky has had for so many years have gone out of the window.

"I haven't had access to normal training facilities. I'm not able to train in the weight room and with my trainer and my team-mates and all of those things," she said.

"I've just had to be adaptive to the circumstances and use the resources that I do have. All the athletes around the world have to take responsibility for their actions and really follow the guidelines.

"I'm hopeful my fellow Olympians around the world are all doing the same thing and we're all able to focus on what's important now which is staying inside and doing our part."

Chad le Clos should have been cleaning up at Olympic trials this week but instead he's been consigned to washing the dishes after being schooled by his dad at poker.

Le Clos had been expecting a double celebration this weekend after competing in the South African National Swimming Championships in Durban.

South Africa's most decorated Olympian turns 28 on Sunday and will still celebrate with the family, but the usual post-Olympics party will have to wait until next year after the Tokyo Games were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Le Clos has been in lockdown for a fortnight following a sharp exit from his Turkish training base, where he had relocated after being forced to leave a camp in Italy amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The Durban native is optimistic he can strike gold in Japan if he plays his cards right, but revealed it is his charismatic father Bert - who became a poolside star at London 2012 after his son was crowned 200-metre butterfly champion - who has been holding all the aces during isolation.

Asked how he has been spending his time in quarantine, Le Clos told Stats Perform: "Me and my dad made a nice cooking video, and I've been hanging outdoors quite a lot. 

"We are playing a lot of poker, a crazy amount of poker. My dad is a really good player, me and my brother have been playing about five or six years. We've been playing every night to pass the time.

"We are playing for things like doing the dishes, breakfast in the morning, pancakes. I've been doing all the dishes, I've been so bad!"

Le Clos is philosophical about the Olympics being put back 12 months as he deals with the hand he has been given and revealed it is not only his schedule that will need to be altered as he sets his sights on being the ace in the pack in Tokyo.

He added: "It's crazy to think how things have changed, I should have been competing and I'm in lockdown.

"It's my birthday this weekend, so there would have been an extra celebration but it's all good.

"My family had all these Tokyo 2020 Le Clos supporter t-shirts made that they were going to come round to the party in, so we have to change that to 2021!"

Chad le Clos was in the best shape of his life before the Olympics were postponed due to the coronavirus but warned his rivals he will be even more formidable in Tokyo next year.

Le Clos should have been competing in the final day of the South African National Swimming Championships on Thursday, but instead he was in lockdown at home with his family.

South Africa's most decorated Olympian, Le Clos felt ready to strike gold in Japan until the Games were called off just four months before they were scheduled to start.

The Durban native is hungrier than ever for Olympic glory after returning from Rio four years ago with two silver medals, one of which he hopes will be changed to gold after Sun Yang - winner of the 200-metre freestyle final - was given an eight-year ban for breaching anti-doping rules.

Le Clos, crowned Olympic 200m butterfly champion at London 2012, vowed to ensure he is at the peak of his powers back on the big stage next year.

He told Stats Perform: "Obviously it was a shame that the Olympics were called off, but it was something you cannot control.

"I'm ready to go again next year, I'm in good shape. I have an extra 12 years to be even better.

"I feel like I'm getting better, I feel like I was in the best shape of my life a couple of weeks ago. I'm confident I can come back, hopefully be better than I was in London and Rio and will be in the best shape possible next year."

Le Clos, who turns 28 on Sunday, is hopeful he will also head to the Paris 2024 Olympics in search of adding to his medal haul.

He added: "I think I can get to two more [Olympics], I think I'll be very competitive in the next one for sure.

"Again in 2024, we'll see what happens, it's a long way away but I'm just happy to be in the position that I'm in.

"I'm comfortable with where I'm at, we train really well and I'm very motivated. I lost my motivation after London, but I'm back to where I was now. I'm hungrier and I really want to be successful at the Olympics, I want to win again."

The Swimming Union of the Americas (UANA) has postponed the Pan American Masters Championship, the Pan American Water Polo Championship and the Pan American Artistic Championships due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Charles Barkley established himself as an NBA legend with the Philadelphia 76ers and on this day 19 years ago the team paid tribute to him.

On March 30, 2001, the 11-time NBA All-Star became the seventh 76ers player to have their jersey number retired.

And Barkley is not the only sporting superstar to have made his mark on this date.

Let's take a look back...

 

2001 – Barkley's 34 retired by 76ers

Barkley wore the number 34 with distinction during his eight seasons with the 76ers.

Named MVP in 1993, Barkley was honoured by Philadelphia during half-time of the team's game with the Golden State Warriors.

"My years in Philadelphia were very special to me," Barkley said. "Now, to have my jersey retired, hung next to some of the greatest players of all time ... I consider this an incredible honour."

2001 – Teen sensation Phelps sets world record

Michael Phelps' phenomenal talent was evident from an early age.

At 15, he became the youngest man to set a world record as he clocked one minute and 54.92 seconds in the 200m butterfly in Austin, Texas.

Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time following his retirement after the Rio Games, winning a remarkable 23 gold medals among a total tally of 28.

1954 – Garry Sobers makes his Test debut

Garry Sobers was another teenager whose potential was clear from the outset.

At 17 and listed at nine in the batting order, he made his Test debut for West Indies against England in Jamaica on this day way back in 1954.

Sobers is regarded as the finest all-rounder in the history of cricket, having averaged 57.78 with the bat and 34.03 with the ball in 93 Test appearances.

Former Olympic champion Cameron van der Burgh feels the refusal to make a swift call on Tokyo 2020 exposes athletes to "unnecessary risk" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Olympic Committee confirmed on Sunday it was considering postponing the Games but would make a decision in the next four weeks.

Canada will not send athletes to Japan, while a number of sporting bodies - including USA Track and Field - are in favour of delaying the event, with over 340,000 confirmed cases of the virus worldwide and almost 15,000 deaths.

Van der Burgh, who won the 100 metres breaststroke at London 2012, has bemoaned the lack of "clarification", though.

The South African revealed on Twitter he has contracted COVID-19 and is concerned how other athletes could be affected if they continue to prepare for the tournament.

"I have been struggling with COVID-19 for 14 days today," Van der Burgh wrote on Sunday.

"[This is] by far the worst virus I have ever endured despite being a healthy individual with strong lungs (no smoking/sport), living a healthy lifestyle and being young (least at risk demographic).

"Although the most severe symptoms (extreme fever) have eased, I am still struggling with serious fatigue and a residual cough that I can't shake. Any physical activity like walking leaves me exhausted for hours.

"The loss in body conditioning has been immense and [I] can only feel for the athletes that contract COVID-19 as they will suffer a great loss of current conditioning through the last training cycle - infection closer to competition being the worst.

"Athletes will continue to train as there is no clarification [on the] summer Games and thus are exposing themselves to unnecessary risk - and those that do contract [coronavirus] will try [to] rush back to training, most likely enhancing/extending the damage/recovery time.

"Please, look after yourself everyone! Health comes first - COVID-19 is no joke!"

USA Swimming has requested for the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed until 2021, with athletes seeing their worlds "turned upside down" by the coronavirus pandemic.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach says cancelling the Games - which are due to start on July 24 - is not on the agenda, but different scenarios are under consideration.

The vast majority of sport all over the world has been halted due to COVID-19, which has already claimed the lives of more than 11,000 people.

USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey has now asked for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee to push for the Games to be put back a year in such uncertain times. 

"Our top priority at USA Swimming has been, and will continue to be, the health and safety of our athletes, staff, volunteers and other members," Hinchey wrote in a letter.

"As this global pandemic has grown, we have watched our athletes' worlds be turned upside down and watched them struggle to find ways to continue to prepare and train - many for the biggest competitive opportunity of their lives.

"Our world-class swimmers are always willing to race anyone, anytime and anywhere;

The Council of the Barbados Aquatic Sports Association (BASA) has announced the postponement of the Carifta 2020 Aquatic Sports Championships which was set to begin April 3 at the Barbados Aquatic Centre in Wildey, Christchurch.

According to BASA, the decision was made to protect the health and wellbeing of athletes, officials, and supporters, bearing in mind the fact that a number of participating countries have announced active cases of COVID-19.

Several of the countries that were to have participated had previously announced withdrawals.

“We regret the inconvenience and disappointment this decision may have on the athletes who would have been training vigorously for these championships,” read a release from BASA.

According to BASA, the organization was particularly disappointed because a number of athletes may have wanted to use the championships to prepare for the Olympics, which for now, is still very much on.

But, BASA explains, there were a number of requests from swimming federations around the region, asking for the event’s postponements and they believe they have to acquiesce.

Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Entertainment, Gender and Sports has ordered that both pools at the Independence Park Limited be closed with immediate effect until further notice.

Arising from a government directive, The Bahamas will not be defending their Carifta Swimming title in Barbados in April.

Three-time defending Carifta Games Swimming Champions The Bahamas has named a 36-member team that will be going for a fourth consecutive title in Barbados next month.

Fresh off her double-gold medal performance at the UANA Cup in Lima, Peru, Barbados’ swimming ace Danielle Titus has won herself a scholarship to Tulane University, a private university in New Orleans in the USA.

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