The best sporting events of 2021
Postponements and cancellations during the 2020 pandemic meant that 2021 turned out to be a sporting feast - we take a look at some of the best bits.
Earlier this year, we ran our summer of sports campaign in celebration of the Euros, Olympics, and Paralympics (to name a few!).
So, we’re revisiting the best sporting events of the year and taking a closer look at how sports is beneficial for both our mental and physical wellbeing.
The best sporting events of 2021
Sports schedules across the world were in disarray for what once seemed like an indefinite period in 2020, before bio-bubbles and behind closed doors became household sporting terms. A much-anticipated year of sports was in store for 2021, and it certainly did not disappoint.
We watched as Emma Raducanu became Great Britain’s first female Grand Slam winner in 44 years. We were on the edge of our seats during the Olympics and Paralympics. We may have even uttered it’s coming home during the Euros. And we witnessed nail-biting play in the golf Ryder Cup, the British and Irish Lions rugby tour to South Africa and at The Hundred – a new family-friendly version of cricket in the UK.
2021 has been a ground-breaking year for sports fans the world over. Even now, the sporting year is still far from finished as the coveted Ashes play later this month, and we recover from the recent highly anticipated T20 cricket world cup [2,3].
Here are our best bits so far.
- Olympics and Paralympics
This summer, Tokyo hosted the 2021 Olympics and Paralympics, with Great Britain finishing fourth with an impressive yield of 21 gold medals and an overall tally of 64 medals .
For us, team GB Paralympians stole the show, powering into second place with 41 gold, 38 silver and 45 bronze medals . These achievements demonstrate the exceptional sporting infrastructure in the UK and showcase our growing inclusive access to sports.
Team GB high jump Paralympian Jonathan Broom-Edwards said: “I kind of fell into this. I ran into some people at a party who said, ‘Hey, do you want to try athletics?’ , which we think encapsulates his calm approach to competing!
- UEFA 2020 Euros
Like the Olympics and Paralympics, the postponed UEFA 2020 Euros finally took place on 11th July 2021 at Wembley football stadium in London .
After an exceptional campaign under manager Gareth Southgate, England eventually succumbed in the final to Italy after an agonising period of extra time could not crown a clear winner.
Italy eventually secured the win after winning three-two on penalties, but another action-packed tournament once again provided sports fans, across the world, priceless entertainment until the very end .
- The Hundred
A new, innovative, and inherently inclusive form of cricket termed The Hundred burst onto the scene across sporting venues in the UK .
The Hundred is a modern solution to what has historically been called a gentleman’s game. A quick visit to The Hundred website will proudly announce that everyone is welcome, with the competition being proud to have both men’s and women’s teams.
The Hundred has introduced gender-inclusive terms such as batters instead of the outdated term batsmen, marking even more progress for sports in 2021.
- US Open
Earlier this year, Emma Raducanu stunned the tennis world as she came through qualifying and won ten matches to claim her first Grand Slam title at just 18 years old.
The US Open was her second major tournament ever, and we know that we will see much more of her in the future. Emma has already been mentioned as one of the favourites to win the title at the All-England Club next summer, and we cannot wait to watch.
Why are sport and exercise beneficial for health?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults between 18 and 64 engage in 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or a minimum of 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout each week [8,9].
Ideally, for further health benefits, guidelines also suggest that at least two days per week should focus on strength training, and we should also aim to limit our time spent being sedentary as much as possible .
Benefits of regular sport and exercise:
- Improve the health of muscles, heart, lungs, and bones
- Help to maintain healthy body weight
- Decrease the amount of body fat
- Improve sleep and aid cognitive health
- Reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers
- Reduce the risk of mental health conditions such as depression
There is also a large body of evidence to argue that, as a society, we continue to become more sedentary and less active , which is strongly associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular and cancer-related deaths and an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes .
Over 25% of the global adult population is insufficiently active . The UK is no exception to the ongoing trend towards sedentary living, with research suggesting that a large portion of working adults spend over seven hours per day sitting .
What can we do about our sedentary lifestyle endemic? One word: sports.
How can you get into sports?
As you can see, there has never been a better time to get into sports.
Sports are now more accessible than ever - and this is growing at an exciting rate. Now we know what health benefits we can expect from regular exercise, what is next for the beginner?
Five questions to ask yourself
- Do you want to be involved in a large team sport, or do you prefer to be part of smaller circles? Ultimately, this will help determine how important the social aspect is for you.
- Does your schedule allow for regular training sessions and matches, or are you more suited to working out with one or two partners who can be flexible? Some sports can be a big commitment, such as training days and match days. If you know it will be too much from the outset, try choosing a less demanding schedule.
- What are you looking for in a sport? Think about whether you would like to burn fat or build muscle, reduce stress or channel your energy, improve your balance or build strength.
- Do you want to play a sport that you can play all year round or move indoors if needed? Decide if you are happy with the variety of one or more seasonal sports.
- Exercise feels like a chore for many of us, and perhaps most importantly, do you enjoy it? The question is whether you get a sense of satisfaction from participating that leaves you hungry for more.
Once you have answered these questions, you are getting closer to narrowing down some sporting options.
- Reach out to sports facilities - Try your local community or an online provider. Often, you may be eligible for a sports card through your local authority, which will open the door for you to try many sports, sometimes at a reduced rate.
- Start gradually - If you are new to fitness and sport, or have not exercised for a very long time, start gradually and build your fitness up slowly, spreading the exercise evenly across four-five sessions throughout the week .
If you have underlying health conditions, are new to sports or returning to sport after a long time, speak to your GP before starting a new programme, especially high-intensity physical activity [9,11].
Can blood tests help to improve sporting performance?
Blood tests can help you establish a baseline of biomarkers if you are starting a new sport or track your progress along the way.
Once regular sport becomes an integral part of your life, you may find yourself trying to push the boundaries of your previous performances. At a certain point, elite sportspersons often refer to hitting a bar, a well-known metaphor for a cap to their performance. The bar could be anything from a specific weight on a bench press or a lap time for a 400m sprint. Whatever it is, it can be extremely frustrating and demotivating.
Through analysing markers in your blood for your sex and thyroid hormones, protein markers and measures for your iron stores, muscle health and much more, Medichecks can provide a personalised blood test report to help unlock your extra potential.
Sports blood tests
Ultimate sports: If your goal is to take your training to the next level, the Ultimate Performance Blood Test could be for you. The ultimate test is for men and women who want to track their progress while transforming their bodies through diet and exercise.
Strength building: The Sports Hormone Blood Test consists of the main biomarkers a strength trainer would want to test, including hormones and general health and fitness, to help you find answers to questions like why am I not gaining muscle?
Endurance sports: Do you take part in endurance sports like running, swimming, or cycling? The Endurance Fitness Blood Test can help you optimise your performance and recovery. This test includes checks for anaemia, hormones, muscle health and inflammation.
New to sports or track progress: Our Fitness Blood Test is a simple at-home finger-prick test to measure your fitness starting point and track improvements along the way. It is a good option if you’ve decided to make exercise a regular part of your life or you’re looking for insights to track your training progress.