Scottish sport thrived in 2021, with star athletes from north of the border making waves on a global scale. The new year promises even more Caledonian quality, with Scottish sports stars well-placed to dominate 2022. Here are just some of the tartan titans set to make this year their own.
Just days removed from winning the PDC World Darts Championship, the ever-popular ‘Snakebite’ finds himself top of the heap. The mohican-ed king of the oche clinched his second world crown, beating Michael Smith in a dramatic Alexandra Palace final.
The crowd favourite has now won two of the last three PDC Worlds, and also took home last year’s World Matchplay and Player’s Championships. In this sort of form, Wright is a match for anyone in the sport.
‘Snakebite’ wouldn’t have it any other way, as he told The Sportsman after his victory over Smith, “It has always been in my mind that I was going to be a world champion, that is why I picked up a dart. Because you want to be a world champion. You watch it as a kid on TV and you have that dream, so as long as you keep that dream in your head and heart you can achieve anything.”
Boxing bounced to the sound of the bagpipes in 2021, as ‘The Tartan Tornado’ became the first ever British undisputed light welterweight champion of the four-belt era. A bruisingly-brilliant decision win over Jose Ramirez brought Josh the WBC and WBO championships, to add to his IBF, WBA and The Ring titles.
The future is bright for the unbeaten star, with a grand homecoming ahead. Taylor will fight Jack Catterall at the OVO Hydro in Glasgow next month in the first defence of his undisputed crown. Should he win, potential superfights with the likes of Terence Crawford await.
Few football managers have seen their reputation grow as quickly as the West Ham United boss over the last twelve months. The Glasweigian had become a figure of fun after his Manchester United sacking in 2014, and stints at Real Sociedad and Sunderland had further tarnished the sterling reputation he forged at Everton.
The Hammers first came knocking in 2017, when they were mired in the relegation zone. Moyes kept them up with two games to spare, but his initial six-month deal wasn’t extended. When successor Manuel Pellegrini had them staring down the drop once more, West Ham went back to what they knew and re-appointed the Scotsman.
The transformation since has been nothing short of incredible. Moyes steered the East London club to sixth last season, taking them into the Europa League. At press time, they sit fifth in the league with over half of the season gone. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that 2022 is the year a Scottish manager takes West Ham into the Champions League.
21-year-old linebacker David Ojabo has made himself available for this year’s NFL draft, and the Nigerian-born star who was raised in Aberdeenshire is expected to be a first-round pick. A contract with one of the big boys could make Ojabo one of the highest-paid Scottish athletes on the planet. Not bad for someone who had never played American Football as recently as 2017.
One season of high school football was all it took to net Ojabo 35 scholarship offers, and he has become a popular figure playing in front of crowds of 100,000 for the University of Michigan. A track star before adopting the gridiron, via stints playing soccer and basketball, Ojabo seems to succeed at whatever sporting endeavour he takes on.
Scotland Men’s Football Team
Scotland have got a date with destiny in March, as they meet Ukraine in a play-off to reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. After playing in the country’s first major tournament since 1998, last year’s belated Euro 2020, an impressive generation of players will be hungry for more.
The emergence of Andy Robertson, Scott McTominay, Kieran Tierney, John McGinn and Billy Gilmour has given Scotland a solid base to build from. Should they be successful against Ukraine, they could surprise a few opponents this winter in Qatar.
John Higgins & Stephen Maguire
Two Scotsman currently sit high in the world snooker rankings. Number six-ranked John Higgins is one of the modern greats of the game. A four-time World Championship winner, he won last year’s Player’s Championship and reached three other ranking tournament finals. The 46-year-old ‘Wizard of Wishaw” is likely to be in amongst it in 2022.
Former UK Champion Maguire has been steady in ranking tournaments this season, reaching the quarter-finals of the Scottish Open and the World Grand Prix. He has risen to eleven in the rankings, and the 40-year-old will look to rise further this year.