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David Davies/PA Wire/Press Association Images Mark Cavendish shortly after winning the BBC SPOTY.
# Wrap Up
The sporting year in review: December
Mark Cavendish became the third cyclist to win BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, while Ireland had a European Cross Country Championships winner and Floyd Mayweather was told he would be doing jail time in the year’s final month.

SO, WE’VE NEARLY reached the end of our 12 month sporting review – but there is one more to look back on.

While the build-up to Christmas often dwarfs the other events of December, sport never sleeps.

As well as an abundance of football, rugby, golf, NFL and athletics, there are a couple of awards ceremonies including BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, The Irish Times Sportswoman of the Year and the Irish Sports Book of the Year awards.

The winners

Mark Cavendish: The Isle of Man ride became only the third cyclist to win the BBC SPOTY award by finishing ahead of golfer Darren Clarke and athlete Mo Farah at the ceremony in Salford. 2011 saw the 26-year-old win the green jersey in the Tour de France then go on to clinch gold in the road race at the World Championships.

Fionnuala Britton: After Catherina McKiernan, who won the event in 1994, Britton became the second Irish athlete to claim gold in the SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Velenje, Slovenia. She finished ahead of Portugal’s Felix and Britain’s Gemma Steel to in third to cross the line in first place. 

Tiger Woods: He spent two years attempting to rebuild his life and his career after the world watched it fall apart in public. Woods finally ended his winning drought at the Chevron World Challenge, finishing one shot ahead of former Masters champion Zach Johnson to clinch the tournament.

Paul Kimmage: Kimmage became the first writer to win both the Irish and International William Hill award for Sports Book of the Year, having also been successful in 1990 with ‘A Rough Ride’.  This time around he was recognised for ‘Engage – The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson’, which tells the story of former rugby international Hampson, who was paralysed in 2005.

The losers

Floyd Mayweather: ‘Money’ Mayweather was sentenced to 90 days in jail by a Vegas judge after pleading guilty to domestic violence charge. The case focused on an incident involving his ex-girlfriend Josie Harris and their two children, which took place back in September 2010.

Socrates: Captain of the Brazilian team at the 1982 World Cup, was regarded as one of the most cultured footballers ever to grace the game. As well as playing for his country 63 times, Socrates was a qualified doctor and also a political activist. He died on Sunday, December 5 at the age of 57.

Luis Suarez: The controversy surrounding Liverpool’s Uruguayan striker was undoubtedly the most talked about issue of December. Having been hit with an eight-game ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra, just about everyone had their say on the matter while Kenny Dalglish decided to use it as a team-building exercise by sticking by the player and getting the whole squad to wear t-shirts with his picture on them for the warm-up to the goalless draw with Wigan.

Jonny Wilkinson: At the age of 32, the player who will always be remembered for scoring the winning drop-goal in the 2003 World Cup final hung up his international boots. Wilkinson made his decision having been dogged by injuries for several years but continues to play his club rugby with French side Toulon.

Highlight of the Month

Time Tebow was the most talked about man in US sport during the final quarter of 2011. Beginning the season as the Denver Broncos back-up quarterback, the 24-year-old stepped up to the big time in the fifth game of the season and hasn’t looked back. An extremely divisive figure because he publicly exhibits his Christian beliefs, he has defied the odds to become a superstar in American football.

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Picture of the Month

French legend Zinedine Zidane pulls out Ireland’s name in the draw for Euro 2012 in Kiev to group us with current champions Spain, European heavyweights Italy and Slaven Bilic’s Croatia. We also found out that our games would be played in Poznan and Gdansk. Roll on next June!

Sporting Viral of the Month

Festus Baise scored what is quite possibly the finest own goal the world has ever witnessed. The Nigerian defender lined out for Sun Hei against Citizan AA in the Hong Kong First Division and pulled off the spectacular with 10 minutes remaining and his team 3-0 ahead. Deserves several re-clicks.

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Tweet of the Month

Always one up for a laugh, Irish rugby star Jamie Heaslip decides to spread a vicious rumour about his Irish team-mate.

Read more of our month-by-month review of 2011 here >