NAOMI OSAKA (Japan) Tennis
Aged 21, Naomi won her and Japan’s first ever Grand Slam, defeating 23-time major champion Serena Williams 6-2, 6-4, in the US Open final. Her second Grand Slam title came in January 2019, when she won the Australian Open, becoming the first Asian player to be the WTA world’s number 1. With the victory, Osaka became the first player to win two consecutive Grand Slam trophies since Serena Williams in 2015, and the first player to back up her maiden major title at the next Grand Slam since Jennifer Capriati won the Australian and French Opens in 2001.
ANA CARRASCO (Spain) Motor Cycling
Became the first woman to secure a motorcycling world title when she won the World Supersport 300 Championship for fledgling young riders, on a Kawasaki Ninja 400. Now 21, she started riding motorcycles when she was three. Carrasco attained success in the domestic junior motorcycle racing categories with victories in the 125cc Extremeño Speed Championship and the 125cc Murcia-Pre-GP Championship in 2009. She was the first woman to score points in the series by finishing fifteenth at the Malaysian Grand Prix and repeated the feat with an eighth at the season-closing Valencian Community Grand Prix. Carrasco moved to RW Racing in 2014 but her season ended early due to sponsorship problems and had an injury-ridden campaign with RBA Racing Team in 2015. In 2016, she struggled.
SOFIA GOGGIA (Italy) Skiing
Became the first Italian woman to win an Olympic Downhill gold medal. She also won the season-long Downhill World Cup title, edging out the great Lindsey Vonn by three points. Her highlights were victories in Bad Kleinkirchheim and Cortina d’Ampezzo. The PyeongChang 2018 downhill gold medallist suffered a broken ankle in October 2018 caused her to miss most of the World Cup season, she returned in late January 2019 with runner-up finishes in her first two starts at Garmisch, Germany. Despite the injury, she won the silver medal in the Super-G at the World Championships in February.
GERAINT THOMAS (UK) Cycling
Thomas First competed in the Tour de France in 2007 and finally won it in 2018, at the age of 32. Gained the yellow jersey by winning stage 11 and retained it to the finish. Also became the first holder of the yellow jersey to win a stage on the challenging Alpe d’Huez. Competing on both track and road, he has won three World Championships, two Olympic gold medals, and one Tour de France.
Geraint Thomas is confident cycling is now “one of the cleanest sports around”. Thomas also confirmed he will miss May’s Giro d’Italia to be in the best possible shape to defend his Tour title, having become the third Briton to win the race after Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.
BRIANA WILLIAMS (Jamaica) Athletics
The 16-year-old became the newest and most exciting Jamaican sprint star, Williams commanded attention after winning the sprint double at the World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland. She also won three gold medals at the Carifta Games and closed the year with personal-best times of 11.13 seconds in the 100m and 22.50 in the 200m.
The decision for newly crowned IAAF World Under-20 women’s sprint double champion Briana Williams to compete in the black, green and gold of Jamaica in international track and field competition, instead of the United States where she was born, was made by the athlete herself, disregarding the attempts by some family members to suggest that with the resources that the American track and field federation had at their disposal, it was the “best choice”.
JAKOB INGEBRIGTSEN (Norway) Athletics
At 17, the talented young Norwegian athlete won the 1,500 and 5,000 metres double at the European Championships. Earlier in the year in the Prefontaine Classic, he had run the mile in 3 mins 52.28 secs, the fastest time ever by an athlete of that age.
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