This year has thrown up sporting images that will live long in the memory – from delirious World Cup celebrations amid a Moscow downpour to an infamous rant by one of tennis’s all-time greats.
Here, RT Sport takes a look at some of the most spectacular pictures from 2018 – from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again.
GIVE PEACE A SPORTING CHANCE
Sometimes sport can provide a chance for peace that goes beyond politics and diplomacy.
That was the case at this year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang in February, where North and South Korea put long-running hostilities aside to march under a unified flag at the opening and closing ceremonies and fielded a joint team in the women’s ice hockey event.
The North Korean cheerleading team also amazed the crowds with their stunning synchronized routines in the stands.
THE EAGLES SOAR
The Philadelphia Eagles won their first ever Super Bowl at the third time of asking as they beat the New England Patriots in a thriller in February.
That sparked wild scenes at the US Bank stadium in Minneapolis as well as back home in Philadelphia.
RONALDO DEFIES GRAVITY
Cristiano Ronaldo has had a year of mixed fortunes, picking up yet another Champions League title with Real Madrid in May, but coming under scrutiny off the pitch amid rape allegations and tax issues in Spain.
But he is responsible for one image that will linger long in the memory when he struck an incredible overhead kick for Real against current club Juventus in last season’s Champions League quarter-final first leg in Turin in April.
Teammate Gareth Bale would repeat a similar feat in the final against Liverpool, but Ronaldo’s was an effort so stunning that it even drew praise from rival fans in Turin and the legendary Gianluigi Buffon in the Juve goal.
THE CAPS FINALLY GET THE PRIZE
After suffering agony after agony in their quest for Stanley Cup glory, the Washington Capitals and their charismatic Russian captain Alex Ovechkin finally landed club hockey’s biggest prize in June. Cue suitably raucous celebrations – including Ovechkin and the team later frolicking in some downtown fountains.
SINGING IN THE RAIN
The Russia 2018 World Cup in was widely hailed as among the best in the tournament’s long and illustrious history, and produced some iconic images to match.
The final between France and Croatia at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium was played out in stifling heat which gave way to a massive downpour – making for some truly stunning pictures of the celebrations by the players and big-name spectators.
AKINFEEV’S LEFT FOOT
Another World Cup image that will go down in the history books – not least for the Russian hosts – was when goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev’s acrobatic save handed Russia a stunning penalty shootout win over Spain in the last 16. You’ve heard of Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’, now Russia has the legend of the ‘Left Foot of Akinfeev’.
THANKING A HALO
Sauber F1 driver Charles Leclerc was just inches from disaster in a horror crash with McLaren driver Fernando Alonso at the Belgian Grand Prix in August.
Leclerc emerged unscathed and credited the new ‘Halo’ protection device with saving him after Alonso’s car was deflected over his head.
TIGER ROARS BACK
Golf legend Tiger Woods’ struggles have been well documented on the course as well as off it. But the 14-time Major winner put his troubles behind him with a stunning comeback win at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta in September.
Fans crowded round the 18th green to see an emotional Woods, 42, clinch his first title in more than five years – and prove that there was more to come from a man many feared was finished.
WILLIAMS LOSES IT
All-time tennis great Serena Williams also captured the headlines in September during her US Open final defeat to Japan’s Naomi Osaka.
After being handed a code violation for receiving coaching – which she denied – Williams went on to brand umpire Carlos Ramos a “liar” and a “thief” in a rant captured in all its fury on camera.
October saw what was touted as the biggest fight in MMA history as Russian UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov met Irish megastar Conor McGregor in Las Vegas.
The meeting lived up to the hype after a toxic build-up, and saw Nurmagomedov submit McGregor in the fourth round before exploding outside the cage in an attack on members of the Irishman’s team.
A fight and images that will live long in the memory.
Another comeback graced 2018 when heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury returned to the big time when he took on WBC champion Deontay Wilder in Los Angeles in December.
The bout ended in a controversial draw, but will be remembered for the classic 12th round which saw Wilder brutally floor Fury with a combination that looked for all the world like it had left the Brit out for the count.
Fury had other ideas though, remarkably snapping back into life before clambering to his feet and beating the count.
The incident prompted comparisons to wrestling icon The Undertaker amid a mass of memes on social media.