Sports fans around the world are struggling to reconcile with the sudden loss of American basketball icon Kobe Bryant. The 41-year-old died on January 26, 2020, when his private helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California — about 30 miles away from Los Angeles. The crash also killed the chopper's eight other occupants — Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna, her middle school basketball assistant coach Christina Mauser, Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton, and the pilot, Ara Zobayan.
Though thousands of adventurers have scaled Mount Everest, the highest and most famous of the world's 14 tallest mountains, only 40 climbers have conquered them all. Located in Asia's Himalayan and Karakoram ranges, the "eight-thousanders" each stand over 8,000 meters (26,247 feet) tall, above the so-called "death zone," where the amount of oxygen is insufficient to sustain human life for an extended period.
Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge has been dominating the world marathon stage since winning the Chicago Marathon in 2014. In the years following, the elite runner has won every marathon he has participated in, including the gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics. In 2018, Kipchoge made history when he crossed the finish line of the Berlin Marathon in 2:01:39, crushing the existing men's world record by a minute and 18 seconds. On October 12, 2019, the 34-year-old further cemented his legacy by running the 26.2 miles in Vienna, Austria in less than two hours, faster than any other person in history. His time of 1:59:40 required him to maintain an average pace of about 4:35 per mile!
Any doubt that Simone Biles is one of the greatest athletes of all time was laid to rest at the 49th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. The 22-year-old dominated the competition, which took place from October 4 to October 13, 2019, winning gold in five of her six events. Biles' career total of 25 medals, 19 of which are gold, now exceed Belarus gymnast Vitaly Scherbo's 23 medals, making Biles the most decorated gymnast — male or female — at the World Championships.
Though Bianca Andreescu was expected to be a formidable opponent, it was Serena Williams who was favored to win the US Open Tennis Championships finals in New York City on September 7, 2019. The 37-year-old US tennis phenom is after all an experienced veteran, with 23 Grand Slam titles to her name. Meanwhile, prior to 2019, her 19-year-old challenger had never even reached the finals of the four prestigious tournaments — the US Open, the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the French Open — that comprise the Grand Slam. But in a true-life underdog story, Bianca managed to oust Serena with a resounding 6-3, 7-5 victory in less than two hours.
Once considered America's national pastime, baseball is on a decline, especially among young Americans who seem to prefer more active sports such as football and basketball. But in Finland, the game's popularity is at an all-time high, especially in rural areas, where it is a favorite in schools and fans in stadiums often outnumber the local population. The reason? Pesäpallo, the Finnish version of baseball, is a faster-paced game that is exciting enough to keep fans of all ages at the edge of their seats!
Fiona Kolbinger, a 24-year-old with little experience in competitive cycling, took the world by surprise when she became the first female to win the ultra-endurance Transcontinental Race on August 6, 2019. The cancer researcher from Germany outrode 225 men and 39 women to complete the approximately 2,485 miles (4,000 km) race from Bulgaria to France in 10 days, two hours, and 48 minutes. Even more impressive, Kolbinger crossed the finish line almost 11 hours ahead of the second-place winner, Ben Davies of the United Kingdom.
The US women's national soccer team's quest for the 2019 FIFA World Cup began on June 11, 2019, with a resounding 13-0 win over Thailand. In addition to being the largest margin of victory ever in a women’s World Cup match, the score also set a new record for the most goals in a single World Cup game — for both men and women. The team's incredible journey ended almost a month later on July 7, 2019, with a thrilling 2-0 victory against the Netherlands.