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THE BEST (AND WORST) OF 1999
DECEMBER 20, 1999 VOL. 154 NO. 24


The Best Sports of 1999

Michael and Maurice

1 M for Muscle And for Michael and for Maurice, the fastest men on Earth. At the world championships in Seville in August, Michael Johnson added to his 200-m record the 400-m world mark Butch Reynolds had held for more than a decade. Fellow American Maurice "Mo" Greene earlier set a new world 100-m record, and at Seville paired the 100-m and 200-m golds.

    ALSO IN TIME
The Best (and Worst) of 1999
What will stick in the collective memory is the best and worst of our own fin de siècle, and 1999 had a bumper crop of winners and some memorable bummers as well

Cybertech
Science
Books
Sports
Design
Music
Cinema
Scandals
Business
People
Environment

Macau: Macau's Big Gamble
The Portuguese colony's return to China will be a low-key affair. The real fireworks will begin when the new owners try to clean up the joint
Extended Interview: 'We Will Make the Triads Uncomfortable'
In his temporary government office, Macau Chief Executive-designate Edmund Ho spoke about the future of the territory with TIME

Japan: A Fairy-Tale Ending?
After years of waiting, Japan's royal-watchers are thrilled over hints that the Princess may be pregnant

2 Cup Fever The red army of Manchester United marched inexorably to an unprecedented foursome: the English Premier League, the Football Association Cup, the European Champions League Cup (in a breathless two-goals-in-two-minutes victory) and the Inter Continental Cup, with victory over Brazilian side Palmeiras.

3 Burning Bright Eight tournament wins, twice that number of top-10 finishes, an average of nearly 4.5 birdies per round. Oh, and Tiger Woods added $6.6 million to his bank balance. The 23-year-old may face tougher competition next year, especially from Spain's Sergio García, 19, one-shot runner-up to Woods in the PGA.

4 Wizards of Oz Australia won cricket's World Cup in June. Then rugby union's in November, when the Wallabies overwhelmed the French, who had obligingly eliminated favorite New Zealand in a thrilling semi-final. A Davis Cup final win over France this month proved the Australians are at the top of their tennis game, too.

5 Long Legs Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj again proved he can win over whatever middle distance he chooses to run. He is unbeaten over 1,500 m and set world records at 2,000 m and the mile. In Chicago in October, his U.S.-based countryman Khalid Khannouchi became the first person to break the 2 hr. 6 min. barrier (2:05.42) for the marathon. And Kenya's Tegla Loroupe lowered the women's wall to 2:20.43 in Berlin in September.

6 Comeback Kid From 141st in world tennis rankings just two years ago, Andre Agassi became only the fifth man to take all four Grand Slam titles. He regained the No. 1 slot with his U.S. Open victory in September. Plus he got to romance Steffi Graf, who retired after a 17-year career of 22 Grand Slam titles and some $35 million in prize money.

7 The Thorpedo Trying out Sydney's Olympic pool, 16-year-old Ian Thorpe set world records for the 400-m and 200-m freestyle, and in the 4x200-m freestyle relay. The pool also suited South Africa's Penny Heyns, who set a new 200-m breaststroke mark in it, one of 13 world bests she notched in two months.

8 Big Wheels Finland scored a double with Tommi Makinen, world rally champion for the fourth year running, and Mika Hakkinen, champion Formula One driver for a second time. On two wheels, Spain's Alex Crivillé powered to the 500-cc world championship, and 20-year-old Italian Valentino Rossi became the youngest-ever 250-cc champion.

9 Tour de Courage Lance Armstrong came back from chemotherapy for testicular cancer not just to stay alive but to win France's and the world's toughest cycle race. An even bigger prize was the son the American and his wife Kristin produced with his sperm saved pre-surgery.

10 Ping Pong Gongs China's peerless paddlers took all five gold and five silver medals at the 45th world table tennis titles in the Netherlands--their third gold sweep and their 101st world title since they began competing in 1959.

AND THE WORST

Feet of Clay: The phrase "Olympic ideal" is a favorite of Juan Antonio Samaranch, head of the International Olympic Committee. But it was an oxymoron as three IOC members quit and six were expelled amid reports of bribes offered by Salt Lake City to win the 2002 Games. By year's end, the IOC voted to ban members from visiting cities bidding to host the Games.

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