By Mike Rowbottom

Now that the first sporting decade of the millennium is at its close

Chris Hoy Miracle of Istanbul Tiger Woods Lance Armstrong 2005 Ashes Steve Redgrave Usain Bolt Roger Federer Kelly Holmes Michael Phelps London 2012 Cathy Freeman Jonny Wilkinson Brazil Italy Jenson Button

it is a good moment to pause and reflect upon

Bradley Wiggins Tom Watson Matthew Pinsent Rafael Nadal Paula Radcliffe Ian Thorpe Greece Spain Justine Henin Ryan Giggs Joe Calzaghe Michael Schumacher Phil Taylor

the performers and performances that will be remembered

David Beckham Cristiano Ronaldo Ryder Cup 2002 Lewis Hamilton Ben Ainslie Manny Pacquiao Sachin Tendulkar Serena Williams Dan Carter Rhona Martin Sea The Stars

in decades to come

Pete Sampras Tom Daley Amir Khan Zara Phillips Shane Warne Venus Williams

so many outstanding memories

Brett LeFavre

it’s hard to know if you’re coming or going

Having said that, I have assembled a top ten of sporting memories which I was in the happy position of being able to memorise for myself. In no particular order, for reasons grand or not, they are as follows:

June 2003. A fourth-round match at Wimbledon between two 21-year-olds. After just four minutes of the match, one of them is flat on his face receiving massage on a back problem that emerged during warm-up. It’s the Swiss No.4 seed who has lost in the first round on three out of his four previous appearances. But who, two years earlier, ended Pete Sampras’s 31-match winning sequence at SW19. It’s Roger Federer.

After returning gingerly to his feet and furrowing his dark brow, Federer recovers to beat Feliciano Lopez of Spain 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 and reach the quarter-finals. "I didn’t think that I would sit here today as the winner after this shock I had," Federer reflects afterwards. “I have to try to take this lucky, lucky match today and try to get rid of this and be ready for the quarters, because it’s a great opportunity I have now.”

Three matches later, Federer secures his first Grand Slam title…

February 2002. A raucous home crowd at the Salt City Ice Center is about to see what it most wants and expects. Twenty metres from the finish line of the Winter Olympic 1,000 metres speed skating final, the home skater and huge favourite Apolo Anton Ohno appears destined to collect what many have predicted will be the first of four Olympic golds at the Games. But then something happens.

A collision on the final bend, set in motion by China’s former world champion Li Jiajun, causes a pile up which sends ever skater slithering and crashing into the boards. Every skater but the one at the back, that is -Steven Bradbury (pictured) of Australia, who glides, alone, to one of the most unlikely Olympic victories ever witnessed.

Bradbury, it turns out, has almost died for his sport on two previous occasions, requiring 111 stitches after one fall and breaking his neck in another.

On this evening, the bemused Aussie - who had only come through his quarter-final by virtue of someone else’s disqualification, and who had reached the final thanks to another pile-up which took out three of his four competitors - is happy to admit that his luck appears to have evened out.

January 2008. Tottenham, having been bombed out of the Carling Cup semi-finals by their old friends Arsenal the previous season, are about to try again, at White Hart Lane, having earned a 1-1 draw in the first leg. On Park Lane, a large group of home fans are carousing outside the Olive Branch pub. Singing: "We are the Arsenal haters."

By the end of the night, Tottenham’s supporters are reprising the old 80s favourite, "Spurs are on their way to Wembley", after their team has beaten the North London neighbours 5-1 on the night. When Spurs surprise, they do it in style. They go on to surprise Chelsea in the final too.

September 2000. Dean Macey, the Canvey Island decathlete who had emerged into the public eye, bleached hair and all, by earning a silver medal at the previous year’s World Championships, has just finished with no medal at the Sydney Olympics, although, as usual, he is carrying at least one injury.

Macey might nevertheless have earned a place on the rostrum had it not been for a controversial decision which set the eventual winner, Erki Nool, back on course after he appeared to have lost his chance in the discus. After two foul throws, the Estonian had only one more opportunity to register a scoring distance, but his final effort was ruled out by a judge after he was adjudged to have stepped out of the circle. Prompted by an Estonian protest, the competition referee overruled the judge's judgement, and Nool ended up with gold, with the Briton fourth.

The opinion of most observers was that Nool had been lucky. The mixed zone is heaving. The weary figure of Macey arrives – and the obvious question is put to him. What are his feelings about Nool winning?

Macey doesn't flinch or hesitate. He congratulates Nool on his gold, says he is a good friend, and tells told everyone he will be on that top podium himself one day – which, alas, he never manages to do. But he does earn a gold for sportsmanship.

August 2008. The Olympic 200 metres final in Beijing. We had already witnessed the incredible in the Bird’s Nest stadium as Usain Bolt had breezed to a new 100 metres world record with time to showboat. But the task of beating Michael Johnson’s world record in the longer sprint, a record set in front of a frenzied home crowd at the 1996 Atlanta Games, was of a different order. For Bolt, 19.32sec had always been the most important statistic in what was his favourite event. No one who saw those figures displayed on the digital scoreboard on that steamy evening in Georgia expected to see them bettered for at least 20 or 30 years.

The figure on the clock as Bolt passed read 19.30. You had to look at it twice to register it properly. At least the Jamaican had the grace to look a little fatigued this time…

March 2005. The National Indoor Arena, Birmingham. Badminton pairing Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms, who had let the gold medal slip from their grasp at the previous year’s Olympics, have just won the mixed doubles at the All England Championships, the sport's equivalent of Wimbledon. Robertson, so proud and so distraught in Athens, greets the final point with a prodigious leap before vaulting over the advertising boards to embrace his coach. A year later, Robertson and Emms take the world title.

April 2003. Paula Radcliffe (pictured) has just produced another front-running performance to win the London Marathon. No great surprise there. But her time - it's 2 hours 15min 25sec. That’s almost two minutes faster than the world record she set in Chicago six months earlier. And more than three minutes faster than any other woman has run. And, as it turns out, faster than any male Briton can manage at the London that day. She looks as if she’s already thinking about where she can do a warm-down. Astonishing.

July 2004. Christine Ohuruogu - who? - has just won the AAA 400 metres title at the Olympic trials in Manchester after overhauling the favourite, European bronze medallist Lee McConnell. In the race, she has just got stronger and stronger, outstaying rather than outsprinting all opposition. It’s something the athletics world is about to see happen more than once..

June 2007. In his first appearance on home soil since winning the Formula One title, Lewis Hamilton takes part in a go-karting event set up on a temporary track in the middle of central London’s Brunswick Square. Under the eyes of an intrigued crowd and the event’s host, TV sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher, the miked-up champion sets off with fine intent on the narrow and winding circuit in a branded kart he has personally had put up at a charity auction.

After a lap and a half, the boy wonder thumps into the barriers, exclaiming: "Whoa! That was close!" before adding, at Gallacher’s urgent prompting: "It’s tight on this track…it’s a bit bent at the back there." By this time the kart has been nursed back to the pits, where it is claimed by the victorious bidder, who wishes only to be known as "John from Northern Ireland", and who has paid out £42,100 for the item in question.

February 2002. The silence within the Ogden Ice sheet - a small edifice seating around 2,000 people – is so intense it is almost an unbearable sound in itself. At the far end of the hall, a Scottish woman is about to deliver the concluding stone of the Winter Olympic curling event and her deliberation is being witnessed not just by the rapt souls around her, but a live BBC television audience of 6.5 million watching late into the night.

Earlier in the week, Rhona Martin (pictured) would never have imagined she could be in such a crucial position. After consecutive round-robin defeats appeared to have ended the British women’s chances, Martin had commented: "We're gone. We're dead."

But a fortunate combination of other results allowed the dead to rise, and now the British team are one shot away from beating Switzerland to the gold.

The Swiss stone lies alone in the scoring circle and it is hard to see the line Martin can take around the stones in between to dislodge it. She moves forward on one knee and releases her stone of destiny to the hectic brooming of her team-mates on the ice. The yellow weight travels onwards to nudge the red out of contention. And turns, golden.

Mike Rowbottom, one of Britain's most talented sportswriters, has covered the last five Summer and four Winter Olympics for The Independent. Previously he has worked for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Observer, the Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian. He is now chief feature writer for insidethegames.