It has been one exciting, unpredictable and all-round fantastic year in the world of sports. Records have been shattered, careers made, while others ended, and there was drama aplenty for all to savour. The thrill that the year 2012 had provided us will undoubtedly live long in our memories.
Here, in the first of a two part series, we take a look back at the stories which caught our eye in the first six months of the year.
Azarenka announces arrival in Australia
In recent years, Melbourne Park has been a bit of a platform for tennis' up-and-coming players to announce their arrival, with Novak Djokovic, Amelie Mauresmo and Thomas Johansson all winning their first Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open.
This year, it was Victoria Azarenka's turn.
She had impressed in 2011 but without really setting the circuit alight. But the Belarusian wasted no time in doing so come the new year - dropping just two sets along the way to her maiden Grand Slam title.
The triumph vindicated Azarenka's decision to stay in tennis, having contemplated quitting the game to go to university just ten months before.
"I guess I made a pretty smart decision not walking out," she said after winning in Melbourne, according to The Telegraph.
The decision looked smarter with every passing month as the 23-year-old took a total of six titles in the year, a bronze medal for her country at the Olympics and ended 2012 as the leading women's player in the world.
Her arrival as a bona-fide star also highlighted the competitiveness of the women's game at the moment, with the last eight Grand Slam events having produced seven different winners.
New York Giants win Super Bowl XLVI
There was no bigger story in the world of sport in February than Super Bowl XLVI.
Much, much more than a showcase of quirky American advertising, it's the pinnacle of American football and the showpiece event for the sport's professional league - the NFL.
A record 111.3 million viewers in the U.S. - and millions more around the world - watched as the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 21-17 in the Super Bowl.
The finale proved to be a thrilling affair, as Eli Manning led a fourth quarter touchdown drive. It was also a fitting end to the 2011-12 NFL season which began in turmoil with a lockout but ended in glory.
Eli went 30 for 40 for 296 yards in the final with one touchdown pass and zero interceptions while Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz stood out with four catches for 25 yards - including a touchdown.
Eli now has one more Super Bowl title than his more famous older brother Peyton.
Rahul Dravid calls it a day
Nearly 16 years after he made his debut in Saurav Ganguly's shadow with twin half-centuries against England at Lord's, the best number three India has ever produced hung up his gloves for good.
Those 16 years produced 13,288 of the most technically correct runs in Test cricket. A big majority of those came during an age of unprecedented success for India.
The decade began with that historic match-winning partnership with VVS Laxman at Eden Gardens in 2001, the double hundred against the same opposition at the Adelaide Oval in 2003 with a sublime 148 against England on a seaming track at Headingly in 2002 sandwiched between the two.
Through the noughties, as more Indian success followed, Dravid was perhaps the most crucial batsman for his side, particularly on overseas pitches, coming in early more often than not and taking the sheen off the new ball so that the strokemakers who followed could make hay.
Nor did he go quietly. No, the man who willed himself to greatness with sheer bloody-mindedness raged against the dying light both his own and India's - scoring three centuries as his side went down 4-0 to England.
He was bowled six times in eight innings against Australia a few months later, unthinkable for someone possessed of such technical purity, and retired soon after.
An out-and-out old school cricketer and the classiest of men, Rahul Sharad Dravid's departure has left Indian cricket so much poorer both on and off the pitch.
Rosberg ends Mercedes drought
It was a series of Nico Rosberg and Mercedes firsts at the Chinese Grand Prix.
The less famous German in the team Rosberg surprised everyone by gaining his first and thus far sole pole position in six year career on the Formula One circuit.
The German driver posted a best time of 1:35.121, beating closest challenger Lewis Hamilton's qualifying time by over half a second.
The race itself was a brilliant back and forth affair between Rosberg, Jenson Button and Hamilton, but it was the Mercedes driver who emerged victorious, capitalising on a devastating pit-stop error by Button to finish a commanding 20 seconds ahead of the Brit, who had to settle for second.
This was the 27-year-old's first Formula One win. He also became the first Mercedes driver to win a race since Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1955 Italian GP and the first German since Hermann Lang in 1939 to take the chequered flag in a German car.
Robshaw underlines his talent
If there is one player who would consider 2012 to be his year, that man would be Chris Robshaw. The English flanker was omitted from the national squad for the 2011 Rugby World Cup and he answered that snub with some style leading the Harlequins to their first Aviva Premiership crown with a superb season and starring in the 30-23 win over Leicester Tigers in the May final at Twickenham.
Not only did he win the Player of the Year accolade later, he has also solidified his position as England captain, which he earned earlier in January despite having featured just once for the national squad prior to the Six Nations Tournament.
Rafa makes it a Magnificent Seven...
If there were any doubts as to who the greatest clay court player of all time is, Rafael Nadal banished them emphatically with a record seventh French Open title. He did it against Novak Djokovic too - the man who had absolutely tormented him through 2011 and all the way to the 2012 Australian Open.
On Philippe Chatrier, it was vintage Nadal - hunting down every ball, slamming forehand winners with unbelievable feoricty and whipping up the crowd into a frenzy with the nakedness of his emotion. At the end of it all, he had surpassed Bjorn Borg as the man with the most French Open trophies.
Two weeks later, Nadal would lose to Lukasz Rosol in the second round of Wimbledon in perhaps the upset of the century, and not play again in 2012. But despite missing out on sixth months of action, the Spaniard left an indelible mark on the year and on tennis history.
And so does Lewis Hamilton
Never before had Formula 1 seen seven different winners in the opening races. Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, Pastor Maldonado, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton changed that. From Melbourne to Montreal, each race saw a different driver atop the podium - underscoring the quality of both the cars and those behind the wheel.
At the end of the season, it was Vettel who emerged victorious for the third time running, but the opening few weeks of the season made fans out of even the avowed F1 atheists.
King James ascends the throne
Two years after one of the most controversial and fractious NBA transfers in history, LeBrom James' decision to move from his native Ohio in pursuit of an NBA championship was vindicated in style.
The Miami Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1 in the NBA Finals at the end of a shortened season to deliver what James had been craving for so long. For the former Cleveland Cavaliers' small forward, the trophy came with the Finals MVP accolade as well - and established him as one of the best NBA players of all time.