The stories that defined Canberra sport in 2018

From championships to off-field drama, it was a year filled with breathtaking highs and unforgettable lows across Canberra's sporting landscape.

With that, The Canberra Times sports team looks back on the 10 biggest stories that defined sport in the capital in 2018.

1. Jack Wighton

Jack Wighton had a nightmare year.

Jack Wighton had a nightmare year.Credit:AAP

Jack Wighton told the court he didnt remember the incident, but the Canberra Raiders fullback will always remember the story.

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Wighton was sentenced to a two-month suspended jail term and fined $3500 for a drunken assault on five men during a 20-minute birthday bash.

CCTV footage of the incident shows Wighton urinate in the street and assault five men in three separate incidents, leaving him to face two charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, three counts of common assault, and one charge of public urination.

The NRL had already handed down its verdict in banning Wighton for 10 games and fining him to the tune of $30,000.

2. We're not in A-League of our own

Canberra A-League bid leader Michael Caggiano.

Canberra A-League bid leader Michael Caggiano.Credit:Jamila Toderas

Here we are again.

After 20 months of pushing for an A-League licence in Canberra, we find ourselves exactly where we were 10 years ago.

Defiant Canberra A-League bid leaders refuse to let their dream of securing a team in the capital die, adamant Canberra is still a realistic chance of being admitted to the A-League in the coming years.

They were overlooked after the FFA opted to add third teams to Sydney and Melbourne, and Canberra bid leader Michael Caggiano is confident the capital is not being strung along.

Only time will tell. Perhaps in another 10 years.

3. Caroline Buchanan's crash

Caroline Buchanan is refusing to let a horror crash affect her.

Caroline Buchanan is refusing to let a horror crash affect her.Credit:Karleen Minney

She had blood smeared across her face and every breath left her in agony, but Caroline Buchanan sat still. Silent.

Her demeanour on the outside downplayed the damage on the inside – a broken nose, broken sternum, two collapsed lungs and dangerous bleeding around her heart.

The two-time Olympian and eight-time world champion was left in the intensive care unit for four days after an off-road buggy rolled at her friend's farm, with doctors draining 2.5 litres of blood and fluid from her lungs over three days.

Buchanan is an adrenaline junkie – she needed every ounce of it to pull through a five-hour ordeal and week in hospital.

Incredibly, Buchanan sees the pain as a positive. It showed her she could rebuild herself into a world-beater by overcoming adversity.

Thats why, even after another crash on the bike, she had a week off before jumping back on two wheels to fuel the adrenaline junkie inside.

4. Fed Cup

The crowds packed out the Canberra Tennis Centre.

The crowds packed out the Canberra Tennis Centre.Credit:AAP

Was this the event that proved Canberra can cater for polarising character Nick Kyrgios' return home?

More than 6300 fans packed into temporary stands at the Canberra Tennis Centre to watch Australia topple Ukraine in a five-match Fed Cup cliffhanger in February.

It marked the first major event for Tennis ACT since a $27 million upgrade at their Lyneham headquarters in 2015 and put Canberra on Tennis Australia's radar to host more genuine blockbusters.

The capital quickly became a happy hunting ground for Australia with captain Alicia Molik declaring "it's a place we would love to visit in the future".

5. Ricky versus the referees as Dan McKellar whacks the Wallabies

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar with Raiders coach Ricky Stuart.

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar with Raiders coach Ricky Stuart.Credit:Karleen Minney

Two codes, two coaches, two directives – but we just couldn't split the two stories which caused a stir for the capital's football sides.

The flag went up, then it went down. And with it went the Raiders' finals hopes in a controversial clash against the Cronulla Sharks.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was left so frustrated by refereeing blunders he labelled the million-dollar NRL Bunker a "waste of time" and said there was too much "noise" surrounding officials.

While Stuart was calling on the powers that be to make changes, ACT Brumbies coach Dan McKellar wanted rugby union's counterparts to keep their hands off the game.

McKellar says it's unfair players were dragged into a tug of war with the Wallabies – so he responded by picking David Pocock, Allan Alaalatoa and Scott Sio to play Super Rugby before joining the Test squad despite a Wallabies request to rest them.

6. Chloe Hoskings big f***ing deal

Commonwealth Games gold medalist Chloe Hosking.

Commonwealth Games gold medalist Chloe Hosking.Credit:Jamila Toderas

“I am a Commonwealth Games champion and it is a big f***ing deal”.

How big? Big enough to be one of the most memorable moments Canberras sporting scene has witnessed this year.

Chloe Hosking couldnt contain her excitement when she claimed gold in the 112.2km road race at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April.

The triumph will go down as one of Hoskings finest moments, and it is made even more significant considering she found herself in hospital following a crash a day before flying home to prepare for the Games.

7. The NBL is back in Canberra

Hawks coach Rob Beveridge has given Canberra the thumbs up.

Hawks coach Rob Beveridge has given Canberra the thumbs up.Credit:Mark Nolan

The Illawarra Hawks are set to build a nest in Canberra in a move that has some hopefuls desperate to start firing the Cannons.

The Hawks will host the Cairns Taipains on January 26 in the first regular-season NBL game in Canberra since 2008, 15 years after the demise of the once-mighty Canberra Cannons.

Illawarra officials are still pressing for a long-term deal with the ACT government to ensure the next Patty Mills has a clear pathway to the elite level.

Hawks general manager Mat Campbell says a push into Canberra is not a step towards relocation but a way to shore up the foundation club's future and bolster the ACT's high performance pathway.

The clash against Cairns will be an audition for more games in the capital, with the Hawks believed to be open to moving as many as three home fixtures to the city in the coming years as they eye a GWS Giants-style agreement.

8. Michael Thomson leaves the Brumbies

Former Brumbies CEO Michael Thomson  will take on a new role as head of aviation at Canberra Airport.

Former Brumbies CEO Michael Thomson will take on a new role as head of aviation at Canberra Airport.Credit:Karleen Minney

His name might not be on a Canberra Stadium grandstand but there arent many that have had the same impact on the ACT Brumbies as Michael Thomson.

Thomson left his post at the Super Rugby club a year earlier than expected to spend more time with his family and take up a role at Canberra Airport.

His departure marked the Brumbies sixth chief executive since the end of 2013, but not before Thomson turned the club around.

He took the reins after the most turbulent off-field period in Brumbies history, marred by ugly legal battles and a loss of more than $3 million in three years.

Thomson played a vital role in helping the Brumbies avoid the axe in Super Rugby and steered the club to back-to-back profits for the first time in a decade.

9. The Raiders get a new $19 million home

The Raiders are moving to the city.

The Raiders are moving to the city.Credit:Karleen Minney

A landmark three-way deal saw the ACT and NSW governments join forces to drive the Green Machine towards their long-term goal of a home in the heart of the city.

The ACT government pledged $5 million over three years for the Canberra Raiders' new centre of excellence at Northbourne Oval while their NSW counterparts chipped in with $4 million.

The $19 million development will finally take the Raiders out of their ageing home in Bruce and into a state of the art facility designed to strengthen the clubs future.

10. Canberra Brave crowned champions

The Brave partied hard after their Goodall Cup victory.

The Brave partied hard after their Goodall Cup victory.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

Ice hockey was on its deathbed when the Canberra Knights collapsed five years ago.

But from their ashes rose the Canberra Brave – a franchise that finally broke through for a maiden AIHL triumph in their third consecutive grand final appearance.

The overtime thriller was the culmination of journey from near extinction to the top of the league, sending stars into the sunset and creating lasting legacies.

The Brave have built a cult following and their rise to the top laid the platform for the club to claim the team of the year gong at the Canberra Sports Awards.

Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times

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