Home >Sports >Sports News >Four sporting questions for 2020

In the world of sports, an even-numbered year that is also a multiple of four means an Olympic year. That means a rich compression of sporting events in the grandest sense of the word. For example, swimmer Caeleb Dressel will mount a challenge to win eight gold medals in a single Olympics, a feat matched only by his countryman Michael Phelps before.

Elsewhere, Virat Kohli will resume his own Olympian pursuit of 50 one-day international centuries. Tiger Woods, who is seeing a resurrection in his game, will try to go from 15 majors to 18 majors. As always, the world of sports offers many storylines. Here are four compelling sporting questions for 2020 infused with history and drama.

1. As the Olympics return to Asia, will China close in on the US again?

In 2008, when it hosted the Summer Olympics for the first time, China nearly leapfrogged the United States in the medals tally. Its 100 medals were just 10 short of the US; it did trump the US in gold medals (48 to 36), which are the most important medals. China rode this feat partly on a larger Olympic contingent, participating in 257 events against 258 for the US. Since then, China’s participation has tapered. As has its medals tally, while the US continues to hold fort.

In the US-China Olympic duel, 2020 is significant for three reasons. One, the Olympics return to Asia, in Tokyo, Japan. Two, Russia, which won 56 medals in 2016, is banned for drug violations. Three, political and business tensions between the US and China are rife. In Tokyo, will China close in, or leapfrog, the US again?

2. Will Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still be managing Manchester United?

Less than halfway through the season, two of the ‘top six’ in the English Premier League (EPL) have fired managers. A third is near the firing line: Ole Gunnar Solksjaer at Manchester United. Gone is the glow of returning to his playing club. Gone is the glow of the ‘initial bounce’ in performance. Since club legend Sir Alex Ferguson walked away in 2013, Solksjaer has been the fourth manager at United, and was the most successful after the first 20 games, averaging 2 points per game.

After 40 matches, that figure is down to 1.7 points per game. That’s marginally better than David Moyes (1.67 points), but some distance off the 1.9 points of Louis van Gaal and 1.87 of Jose Mourinho. Worse, this is in the backdrop of football that is not compelling to watch and routinely freezes against lower-ranked teams that defend deep. Come the New Year, Solksjaer will manage match number 41 for United in the EPL. Moyes did not make it to match 42. Will Solksjaer?

3. Will Serena Williams win Grand Slam number 24?

There are many prisms to see Serena Williams through. There’s the prism of race, as the most successful and influential black tennis player. There’s the prism of longevity: she’s 38, and still winning. There’s the prism of working women, as someone who returned to top-flight tennis after having a child at 36. There’s the prism of success, as the woman with the second-most singles grand slam titles.

In 2016, a 34-year-old Williams became the oldest woman to win a singles major. In January 2017, at the Australian Open, she went past Steffi Graf with title number 23. Only Margaret Court and 24 titles were ahead. But Williams took a break to have a child. She returned. Two years and four finals later, the 24th title remains elusive. But if there’s a women tennis player who symbolises physical and mental fortitude, it is Williams, who has played and won more in her 30s than anyone else. Can she win one more major?

4. Will Lewis Hamilton match Michael Schumacher?

By his own admission, Lewis Hamilton is relishing where he finds himself today. He is in the last leg of a sterling career, but looking forward to duelling with the generation likely to succeed him as he tries to close the small distance left to the most-coveted Formula 1 records, all in the name of Michael Schumacher. While Hamilton already has more pole positions than Schumacher, he is behind by one driver championship, seven race wins and four podium positions.

In the last three seasons, all of which where he ended up as the winner, Hamilton has averaged 10 race wins. Thus, another winning season should see him eclipse these mighty records, and reset the bar. Hamilton and Mercedes will be among the big favourites for 2020. But there’s also the tantalising proposition of Hamilton leaving Mercedes for Ferrari—a thought he has not dismissed—after the end of next season and conquering of all the stats.

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