From Donald Trump to Brexit, toxic elections and terrorists attacks may be the first things which come to mind when thinking back to the year of 2016. However, despite all the doom and gloom, in the world of sport 2016 saw an incredible year full of major sporting successes.
For many English sporting fans, the year of 2016 will be remembered for the Cinderella story better well known as Leicester City becoming Premier League champions. Leicester City made football history as they won their first Premier League title in 132 years. Alongside that, no team has ever won the Premier League without finishing in the top 3 the season before. The 2014/15 season saw Leicester finish 14th but with new management, new attacking style football and unbelievable odds at 5000/1 to take the title, the foxes did the absolute unthinkable. For months, the £54.4m squad went totally unnoticed, taking 3 points from their bigger rival clubs both home and away. However, it was there 3-1 win over Manchester City in February which saw their title almost certain. “Jamie Vardy’s having a party” was definitely a particular chant which comes to mind when reflecting on their season. The wonder boy who was only playing non-league football just 6 years before rose to the pace of the game making his own history, scoring in 11 consecutive games. With only loosing 3 games all season it was on the 2nd of May that Leicester City were confirmed Premier League Champions. Manager Claudio Ranieri was presented Coach of the Year and the whole team were crowned BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year for their sporting excellence.
For Baseball, 2016 will be remembered for one of the most memorable sporting events of all time. Chicago Cubs break their 108-year curse by winning the Major League Baseball World Series. Droughts were broken and grown men were reduced to tears as Chicago cubs win the title at last. Of course, the win came in the most dramatic way possible as the Cubs charged their way to victory by defeating the Cleveland Indians in 10 Innings 8-7 in Game 7. The Indians were 6-3 down in the bottom eight as play was halted before the start of the 10th inning due to severe weather conditions. The 17-minute pause created a build of momentum for the Cubs resulting in them putting in work during the last inning. Chicago had eight different players record an RBI which is the most any team has ever had in a World Series Game 7. This makes the Cubs the first team to ever come from 3-1 behind to win the Series since 1985. A phenomenal performance.
Then came the Summer Olympics of 2016 where the pressure was on for Great Britain after their success in the London Olympics in 2012, where they finished 3rd. Team GB did not disappoint as they went on to smash this in Rio coming 2nd place, above China. The team as a whole were remarkable and showed a real dominance establishing Britain as a high-end sporting power. 67 medals were won in total with 27 of them Gold, 23 Silver and 17 Bronze.
Mo Farah came back from an early fall to complete the double after defending his 10,000m title as well as securing a gold in the 5,000m. One of the standout performances of the games though has to be the women’s GB hockey team. Their dramatic penalty shootout saw the defeat of defending champions The Netherlands, where they went on to win gold in front of a TV audience of 9 million. Triumph was also achieved at the Paralympics where GB were seen to add another 147 medals to their victory.
The summer of sporting success for Britain did not finish there though as Andy Murray became World Number one. Murray won 9 Tour Titles and Wimbledon which led to him deservedly attaining BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2016.
Danny Willett also became the first British winner of the Golf Masters for 20 years after his shockingly brilliant five-under-par pipped American Jordan Spieth to the Green Jacket.
Chris Froome also became the first British rider to win three Tours De France after achieving the yellow jersey in 2016. Froome experienced many ups and downs during the Tour but after all the drama and horrific weather conditions, Froome retained his Tour title crossing the finish line arm in arm with eight of his Team Sky riders.
The year, however, also saw the downfalls of some true legends of sport. Tyson Fury vacated his titles (WBO, WBA and IBO) in order to focus on his medical treatment after admitting to taking cocaine and battling depression. After beating Ukrainian Klitschko in November 2015, Fury withdrew from the rematch as he was declared “medically unfit”. The acknowledgement that the battle of his own health was the most important fight for him at the time is one that was be praised by many.
Five-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova was also suspended after she was tested positive for drugs during the Australian open – testing positive of meldonium. Bradley Wiggins was also forced to defend himself and the use of steroids after hackers leaked details of western athletes’ therapeutic use exemptions.
Roy Hodgson also left England after four year spell, under the sound of the Viking clap, which without a doubt will haunt him and his career as England manager, after their diminishing defeat to Iceland in the Summer. The FA’s replacement Sam Allardyce also stepped down after just one game and 67 days in charge, after alleged corruption investigations had found him to look foolish. And if that wasn’t enough for English football, footballing legend and former England captain Steven Gerrard retired from professional football ending his 19-year playing career. The midfielder marks England’s fourth most capped player with 114 appearances, but as is footballing career comes to an end he plans to continue in his new role as a coach.
The year of 2016 was most definitely a year that will be remembered for a great year of sport with records broken, and many titles won. However, it also marks the year that we lost one of the greatest legends of all time. Muhammad Ali sadly passed away in the June at the age of 74 leaving boxing fans across the world in mourning. A true sporting legend that has impacted sporting history like no other.