Australia’s champion golfer Karrie Webb suddenly rediscovered her game, as did surfer Layne Beachley. And what about Australian netball captain Liz Ellis who beat off serious injury and question marks over her age to be a strong leader for 2006? But it’s Glenn McGrath who stands out for us, after he took time off to support his wife in her battle with cancer, then had the self-belief to withstand charges that it was all over, he was too old, and he could never regain the magic. McGrath’s mock holding of his aching, decrepit back after taking 6-50 in his first bowling performance of the long-awaited Ashes rematch was pointed and funny. “Whenever people have written me off, I have always proved them wrong,” he said earlier this year and he’s backed it up. Again.

Crikey readers say:

“Alexis Rhodes. To come back from a near-death experience and to put in such an effort at the Commonwealth Games is simply inspirational.” — Dave Smartt

“Harry Kewell — for so long injured or not available — produced the goods in the Croatia match.” — Jeff Kernahan