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Top 100 sporting moments of 2023: 100-91

Sports Mole counts down the 100 greatest sporting moments of 2023, starting with numbers 100 to 91.

The year 2023 has been another hugely eventful one across sport, with countless records set, new ground broken and non-stop drama and controversy along the way.

From World Cups in rugby union, women's football, cricket and netball to rarely-seen feats in darts, formula 1 and MMA, the past year has contained thrills and spills to keep any sports fan entertained, regardless of what they are interested in.

GOATs have been crowned, sporting perfection has been achieved and a plethora of prestigious honours and trophies have been hoisted aloft.

Here, Sports Mole takes on the sizeable task of narrowing the last 365 days down to the 100 greatest sporting moments from across the spectrum, based on a ranking system which takes into account prestige, drama, history, newsworthiness, quality and importance.

So sit back and raise a glass to another historic year of sport with the conclusive list of the 100 greatest moments, starting with numbers 100 to 91.

SPORTS MOLE'S TOP 100 SPORTING MOMENTS OF 2023

100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1



100. Cricket World Cup records tumble in group stage

Aiden Markram, South Africa rack up record scores at Cricket World Cup (October 7)

South Africa's Aiden Markram celebrates after reaching his century, the fastest ODI World Cup hundred, off just 49 balls on October 7, 2023© Reuters

Records tumbled in Delhi on October 7 when South Africa took on Sri Lanka in both teams' opening match of the Cricket World Cup.

South Africa had three separate centurions en route to a total of 428-5 - the highest team score in the history of the tournament - with the brilliant Quinton de Kock hitting 100 from 84 deliveries and Rassie van der Dussen weighing in with 108 runs off 110 balls.

The star of the show was Aiden Markram though, as he bludgeoned the fastest-ever World Cup hundred, reaching triple figures in just 49 deliveries - one ball quicker than the previous record held by Ireland's Kevin O'Brien since 2011.

Markram eventually fell on 106 from 54 balls, but South Africa continued to rack up the runs and surpass Australia's previous record mark of 417-6 from 2015.

To their credit, Sri Lanka took on the chase, but they were dismissed for 326 in 44.5 overs to suffer a 102-run defeat in a match which saw more runs overall than any previous Cricket World Cup game.

Pakistan produce record World Cup chase against Sri Lanka (October 10)

Sri Lanka would have felt justifiably confident of picking up their first win of the 2023 Cricket World Cup when they racked up 344-9 from their 50 overs against Pakistan in Hyderabad.

Kusal Mendis was the star of the show for them with a stunning 122 off just 77 balls, while Sadeera Samarawickrama also weighed in with 108 off 89 to leave Pakistan needing to pull off the biggest run chase in World Cup history if they were to make it two wins from two.

That chase got off to an inauspicious start when they fell to 37-2, but that all changed with Abdullah Shafique and Muhammad Rizwan at the crease.

The duo put on a sensational partnership of 176 off 156 deliveries, with Shafique making 113 off 103 before being caught out.

Rizwan continued to carry the baton despite suffering with cramp throughout the innings, putting on another 95 with Saud Shakeel for the fourth wicket.

Fittingly, it was Rizwan who hit the winning runs with 10 balls to spare, ending on an unbeaten 131 from 121 balls and sealing the greatest run chase ever seen in the tournament.

The chase surpassed the previous record - Ireland's 328-run chase against England in 2011 - by 17 runs, while the match was also the first in Cricket World Cup history to see four different players reach triple figures.

Glenn Maxwell leads Australia hammering of Netherlands (October 25)

Australia batsman Glenn Maxwell celebrates century against Netherlands at the Cricket World Cup on October 25, 2023.© Reuters

There had already been more than one giant-killing at the 2023 Cricket World Cup, so Netherlands will have been full of optimism heading into their match against Australia in Delhi.

That optimism was soon bludgeoned out of them, though, with Glenn Maxwell inflicting the most damage as he smashed the record for the fastest century in World Cup history.

South Africa's Aiden Markram had set the previous record in 49 deliveries just 18 days earlier, but Maxwell made that look like a leisurely innings as he made it to triple figures in just 40 balls - the fourth-fastest in the format's history, and the fastest for Australia. Runs 50-100 came in just 13 deliveries.

Maxwell eventually fell for 106 from 44, having already seen David Warner chalk up his sixth World Cup century - only India's Rohit Sharma now has more - as Australia set Netherlands a mammoth target of 400 to win, with bowler Bas de Leede conceding 115 runs from his overs - the most of any bowler in ODI history.

Netherlands never came close; Australia bowled their opponents out for just 90, sealing a 309-run victory which was the biggest-ever in the World Cup, and the second-biggest in ODI history.

Australia, New Zealand play out highest-scoring Cricket World Cup match (October 28)

October's Trans-Tasman Cricket World Cup showdown between Australia and New Zealand looked like a tasty affair even before a ball was bowled, but the match in Dharamsala still managed to exceed all expectations.

Australia had found their form after a slow start to the tournament, whereas New Zealand had been one of the top teams throughout, and they went toe-to-toe in an all-time classic.

The Aussie opening partnership put on 175 in just 19.1 overs - including a national ODI record of 118 without loss in the 10-over powerplay - with Travis Head marking his return from injury by blasting 109 off 69 deliveries and the in-form David Warner also weighing in with 81 from 65.

Others also played their part as Australia ended on 388, leaving the Black Caps needing a World Cup record run-chase to pick up the win.

Breakout star Rachin Ravindra led the charge with 116 as New Zealand reached the final over needing 19 to win, and with key man Jimmy Neesham still at the crease.

However, the need to keep him on strike saw him run out on the penultimate ball when going for an unlikely second, and Lockie Ferguson was unable to hit the six needed on the final ball as Australia held on for the win.

The combined tally of 771 runs was more than any World Cup match has ever seen, while the result left both sides still firmly in contention to reach the semi-finals.



99. Novak Djokovic wins record seventh ATP Finals title (November 19)

Novak Djokovic poses with the trophy after winning the ATP Finals on November 19, 2023© Reuters

Eyebrows were raised when Novak Djokovic was toppled by home favourite Jannik Sinner in the group stage of the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin, but the 36-year-old proved that he is still the dominant force in the sport by avenging that loss in the final.

The Serb capped off yet another remarkable year with a 6-3 6-3 win over Sinner to clinch a seventh title in the tournament, moving clear of Roger Federer into the outright lead in the all-time list.

Djokovic also extended his own record of being the tournament's oldest champion, as well as securing a year-end world number one ranking for an unprecedented eighth time and becoming the first person to ever spend 400 weeks at the top of the rankings.



98. Sam Tomkins magic ends St Helens' Super League reign (October 6)

At least one legendary Super League career was guaranteed to come to an end on October 6 as Sam Tomkins's Catalans Dragons took on James Roby and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook's St Helens in the semi-finals.

In the end, it was a dream finale for one and a disappointing end for two, as Tomkins came up with the clutch play to send Catalans to the Grand Final and end St Helens' unprecedented run of dominance in the competition.

The four-time defending champions were held to a scoreless first half as Catalans went in just 2-0 up after a tense opening 40, but Will Hopoate's try put the Saints ahead.

Catalans relied on kicks to claw the low-scoring contest back to 6-6 heading into the closing stages, when Tomkins provided another memorable, magical moment in the final season of his stellar career.

Shaping up for what would have been a match-winning drop goal, Tomkins instead dummied the kick and danced through the staggered defence to touch down for a last-gasp try that sent Catalans to Old Trafford.



97. Germany knocked out in Women's World Cup group stage (August 3)

Germany Women's Lena Oberdorf and teammates look dejected after Germany are knocked out of the World Cup on August 3, 2023© Reuters

As two-time champions, one of the pre-tournament favourites and the second-highest ranked team on the planet, everything appeared to be going to the script for Germany when they opened their Women's World Cup campaign with a 6-0 hammering of Morocco on July 24.

However, fast-forward 10 days and one of the powerhouses of the women's game found themselves suffering the unimaginable ignominy of being knocked out at the group stage for the first time in their history, with Morocco - the team they obliterated on matchday one - taking their place in the last 16.

Germany had only ever failed to top their group in one of their previous nine World Cup appearances and reached the European Championship final just 12 months earlier, but a loss to Colombia on matchday two left them needing to better Morocco's result to progress in the final game.

They were still regarded as firm favourites to do that, only to be held to a 1-1 draw by lowly South Korea while Morocco beat Colombia 1-0 to progress.

It was by no means the first shock of the tournament, with fellow top-10 teams Canada and Brazil having also suffered surprise early exits, but Germany's premature departure went down as one of the biggest upsets in Women's World Cup history.



96. Fiji record first-ever win over England (August 26)

Fiji players celebrate after the match on August 26, 2023© Reuters

With a change of head coach, a poor run of results and a string of injuries and disciplinary issues, England's build-up to the Rugby World Cup had already been far from ideal heading into August's meeting with Fiji.

However, it plumbed new depths in their final warm-up match at Twickenham, as Steve Borthwick's underperforming side slumped to their first-ever defeat at the hands of the Pacific Islanders.

Indeed, it was their first defeat to any nation outside of the Six Nations and Rugby Championship, with Fiji running in three second-half tries to turn the game around and ultimately win 30-22.

It was a fifth defeat in six matches for England ahead of the World Cup, raising serious questions about just how far they could go in France.



95. Jake Fraser-McGurk blasts fastest-ever ODI century (October 8)

While most eyes were on the Cricket World Cup in India, Jake Fraser-McGurk set an incredible new world record on a significantly smaller stage with the fastest-ever ODI century.

Playing for the South Australian Redbacks against Tasmania in the Marsh One Day Cup, the 21-year-old reached triple figures in just 29 deliveries, two balls faster than the previous record held by AB de Villiers since 2015.

Even more remarkably, Fraser-McGurk had never scored a century in any form before his record-breaking salvo, which included 23 boundaries.

Those boundaries were split into 10 fours and 13 sixes, despite him having only hit 18 sixes combined in his previous 49 professional matches.



94. Los Angeles Lakers win inaugural NBA Cup (December 10)

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) hoists the NBA Cup and celebrates with teammates after winning the NBA In-Season Tournament Championship on December 9, 2023© Reuters

For the first-time ever, the 2023-24 NBA campaign contained a new in-season tournament known as the NBA Cup.

The LA Lakers became the first team to get their hands on this brand new trophy when they beat the Indiana Pacers 123-109 in the final in Las Vegas in December.

Anthony Davis was the star of the show on the night with 41 points, 20 rebounds, five assists and four blocks, helping the Lakers race clear in the closing minutes.

There was also another significant contribution from LeBron James, who added 24 points and 11 rebounds en route to being named the competition's MVP, having produced a brilliant string of performances in the Lakers' unbeaten run to the title.

The 38-year-old therefore added two new pieces of silverware to his trophy cabinet as he helped break more new ground during his 21st season in the league.



93. Real Madrid win record-extending Club World Cup (February 11)

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema lifts the trophy with teammates and coach Carlo Ancelotti after winning the FIFA Club World Cup final on February 11, 2023© Reuters

Having been crowned kings of Europe for a remarkable 14th time in 2022, Real Madrid earned their place in the FIFA Club World Cup once again and added another record-extending trophy to their ever-growing cabinet.

Carlo Ancelotti's men brushed aside African champions Al Ahly 4-1 in the semi-final before taking on Al-Hilal in the final, and they ran out 5-3 winners to lift the trophy for a fifth time.

Vinicius Junior and Federico Valverde both scored braces, while Karim Benzema was also on the scoresheet for Los Blancos in the eight-goal thriller.

Moussa Marega and Luciano Vietto (2) got the Saudi side's goals, but they rarely looked like toppling the might of Madrid as they added the 2023 title to the four they won between 2014 and 2018.



92. Wyndham Clark pips Rory McIlroy to US Open title (June 18)

Wyndham Clark celebrates with the championship trophy after winning the US Open golf tournament at Los Angeles Country Club on June 18, 2023© Reuters

The 2023 US Open had already thrown up history heading into a final day which was finely poised with Rory McIlroy well in contention for his first major success in nine years.

Once again, though, it was a near miss for the Northern Irishman as he fell just one shot short of American Wyndham Clark.

Clark's previous best finish at a major had been tied for 75th, but he kept his composure to claim a first ever major title with a level-par 70 that saw him finish on 10 under.

There was also a slice of history for Tommy Fleetwood, who became the first player to shoot two rounds of 63 at a single US Open, and only the fourth player to do so at any major championship.



91. Israel Adesanya gains revenge on Alex Pereira (April 8)

Israel Adesanya (blue gloves) reacts to defeating Alex Pereira (red gloves) during UFC 287 at Miami-Dade Arena on April 9, 2023© Reuters

Described by Israel Adesanya himself as the "greatest storyline in MMA history", the Nigeria-born New Zealander met with his nemesis Alex Pereira once again at UFC 287 in Miami.

Pereira had come out on top in three previous showdowns between the pair - twice in kickboxing before both switched to UFC, where Pereira was fast-tracked to a title fight and beat Adesanya for the middleweight crown in November 2022.

April's meeting was the rematch from that encounter, and Adesanya got his revenge with a second-round knockout, unleashing two right hands with his back against the cage.

The win saw the 33-year-old become a two-time middleweight champion while Pereira suffered the first defeat of his UFC career.

The night was also notable for veteran hometown favourite Jorge Masvidal hanging up his gloves after a legendary 22-fight UFC career, losing by unanimous decision to Gilbert Burns in the co-main event.



Read more of the countdown here

Top sporting moments of 2023: 90-81
Top sporting moments of 2023: 80-71
Top sporting moments of 2023: 70-61
Top sporting moments of 2023: 60-51
Top sporting moments of 2023: 50-41
Top sporting moments of 2023: 40-31
Top sporting moments of 2023: 30-21
Top sporting moments of 2023: 20-11
Top sporting moments of 2023: 10-1


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