By Deshnee Naidoo:
If 2011 has been a year where we have lost some of our prized legends and geniuses, this year has also seen some of the greatest sports personalities bidding farewell to their respective career in sports. Here are 5 sports personalities who chose to retire in 2011.
Popularly hailed as “The Wall of Indian cricket”, Rahul Dravid is regarded by many to be one of the greatest batsmen in the history of the game.
Dravid has been a regular member of the India national cricket team since 1996 and was named captain in October 2005. He resigned from that position in September 2007.
Dravid holds multiple cricketing records.Â He is the second Indian batsman, after Sachin Tendulkar, and the third international player to reach 12,000 runs in Test cricket.
On 14 February 2007, he became the sixth player overall and the third Indian (after Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly), to score 10,000 runs in ODI cricket in cricketing history.
He is the first and only batsman to score a century in all ten Test playing nations.Â With more than 200 catches, Dravid currently holds the world record for the most number of catches in Test cricket. Dravid has also been involved in more than 80 century partnerships with 18 different partners and has been involved in 19 century partnerships with Sachin Tendulkar — a world record.
On November 24, 2011, He became the second international player to reach 13,000 runs in Test Cricket only after Sachin Tendulkar.
On December 14, 2011, he became the first non-Australian cricketer to address at the Bradman Oration in Canberra.
In August 2011, he announced his retirement from One Day Internationals and T20 cricket.
Born in South Africa, Makhaya Ntini became the first black player on the South African national cricket team.
He started playing cricket at the age of 15 and just two years later, he was selected as part of the South African Under-19 squad to tour England.
He made his first-class debut in 1995 and although he didn’t have the best figures in the beginning, he went on to become the third highest South African wicket-taker behind Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald.
In 2003 he became the first South African to take 10 wickets at Lord’s Cricket Ground.Â Despite controversy in his personal life, Ntini went on to establish himself as South Africa’s premier fast bowler and one of the leading fast bowlers in the world. In February 2009 he was ranked as the world’s fifth-best Test bowler behind Muttiah Muralitharan, Dale Steyn, Stuart Clark and Mitchell Johnson.
Ntini retired from all forms of international cricket on 9 January 2011, in a T20 against India.
Ronaldo is widely considered to be the greatest ‘pure’ striker in the history of the modern game, and by some accounts, in the history of football. Ronaldo was one of the most prolific scorers in the world in the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s.
He won his first Ballon d’Or as the European Footballer of the Year in 1997 (aged only 21) and again won the award in 2002 (26 years old). Additionally, he is one of only two men to have won the FIFA Player of the Year award three times, along with French footballer Zinedine Zidane.
He was a part of the Brazilian squad that won the 1994 and 2002 World Cups. During the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Ronaldo became the highest goalscorer in the history of the World Cup with his fifteenth goal, surpassing Gerd MÃ¼ller’s previous record of 14. He is also the only player to have won the World Cup Golden Ball and Golden Shoe in separate tournaments.
Having suffered a string of serious injuries throughout his career, Ronaldo retired on 14 February 2011, citing pain and hypothyroidism as the reasons for his premature retirement.
In March 2008 , Justine Henin became the first woman in the history of professional tennis to retire while ranked No. 1.
She made a successful comeback to tennis at the beginning of the 2010 season, reaching the final of the 2010 Australian Open and capturing two titles (Stuttgart and ’s-Hertogenbosch)
In January 2011, Henin again announced her retirement from professional tennis due to a career-ending elbow injury she initially received last year at Wimbledon.
Henin is a winner of 43 WTA singles titles – including seven Grand Slam championships – and has been ranked No. 1 for a total of 117 weeks (7th all time). She has amassed more than $20 million in career prize money and is leaving the sport with a win-loss record of 527-116.
Baichung Bhutia is considered to be the torchbearer of Indian football in the international arena.Â In 1999, he became the first Indian footballer to play professional football in Europe for the English club, Bury.
His international footballing honours include winning the Nehru Cup, LG Cup, SAFF Championship three times and the AFC Challenge Cup. He is also India’s most capped player, and in the 2009 Nehru Cup he received his 100th international cap.
Bhutia, who has a football stadium named after him in honour of his contribution to Indian football (first player to have such honour while he is still playing), has also won many awards, such as the Arjuna Award and the Padma Shri.
In October 2010, he founded Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools in Delhi in partnership with Carlos Queiroz and Nike.Â In August 2011, Bhutia announced his retirement from international football.
His farewell match will be with the India national team on 10 January 2012 against Bayern Munich at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi.