We say it every year, but this year there is not doubt that 2016 was a year full of drama and excitement in sport. It terms of sporting performance, the greatest feel-good story was Leicester City winning the English Premier League Premiership, completing the most improbable sporting fairy-tale in living memory.
It was an Olympic year, so sports was in the news a lot. However, the biggest Olympic news was not on the sporting field, it was about the Russian team's exclusion from the Olympics and Paralympics after possibly sport's worst ever doping scandal.
On the track, Mo Farah and Usain Bolt provided highlights, though the outstanding track moment came when South African Wayde van Niekerk smashed the long-standing world record in the men's 400m, held by American legend Michael Johnson. The 19 year old American gymnast Simone Biles left with four Olympic gold medals and in the pool Michael Phelps delivered more golds in his final Olympic performance.
It was a standout year for tennis player Andy Murray. He won Wimbledon and gold at the Olympics, ending the year being Britain's first world number one ranked tennis player. Serbia's Novak Djokovic completing the career Grand Slam by winning the French Open. Maria Sharapova was banned for two years after a failed drug test, and dropped to second place on the women's top earners list.
In baseball, the Chicago Cubs finally ended a 108-year title drought by beating the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.
In rugby union, after 111 years, Ireland clinched their first-ever win over the All Blacks, ending New Zealand's 18 match record winning streak. In another record breaking win, the Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in seven games to win their first Baseball World Series in 108 years.
Basketballer Kobe Bryant finished his career in style, scoring a phenomenal 60 points in his final game for Lakers. The first guard to play 20 seasons, which included twice winning NBA Finals MVP's, 18 times All-Star player, was named first-team All-NBA 11 times.
The 2016 Laureus World Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards went to tennis players Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams. The highest paid sportsman in 2016 according to Forbes Magazine was footballer Cristiano Ronaldo with $US88 million dollars in earnings, with the highest paid woman Serena Williams with 28.9 million. The most famous sports people for the year, according to ESPN, were Cristiano Ronaldo and Maria Sharapova.
In sporting deaths news, we lost "The Greatest", boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Other "legends" who died this year were golfer Arnold Palmer and Dutch soccer great Johan Cruyff, who was the European footballer of the year three times and also guided Holland to the World Cup final in 1974 and as a manager he spent eight years in charge of Barcelona. However, the greatest shock to the sporting world was the crash of the plane carrying the Brazilian First Division team Chapecoense, killing 76 of the 81 people who were on board, including most of the team, coaches, journalists and flight crew. In cricket, died this year were Martin Crowe, one of New Zealand Cricket's greatest batsman, Australian fast bowler Max Walker, and Tony Crozier, the well known West Indies commentator. Other notable deaths this year were Gordie Howe, the Hall of Famer known as "Mr. Hockey", Dave Mirra, the most decorated X Games athlete, and Sammy Lee, two-time Olympic diving champion and mentor to Greg Louganis.
What was your highlight? Take the poll of the Greatest 2016 Sporting Highlight.
See some videos from the world of sport in 2016.
|Jan 18-31||Tennis||Australia Open||Melbourne, Australia||Novak Djokovic defended his singles title, winning a record-equaling 6th title. Germany's Angelique Kerber beat defending champion Serena Williams.|
|Jan 28–31||Extreme Sports||Winter X Games 20||Aspen, Colorado, USA||This 15th consecutive Winter X Games held in Aspen included 8 skiing events, 9 snowboarding events, and 3 snowmobiling events. USA won the most gold, with 8.|
|Feb 7||Gridiron/Football||Super Bowl||Santa Clara, California||Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-10. The MVP was Von Miller of the Denver Broncos.|
|Feb 12-21||Multi-sports||Winter Youth Olympics||Lillehammer, Norway|
|Mar 2-6||Cycling||World Track Championships||London, UK||Hosts Great Britain finished top of the medal table with 5 gold.|
|Mar 8-Apr 3||Cricket||ICC World Twenty20||India||In the final the West Indies defeated England by four wickets. Indian batsman Virat Kohli was named the player of the tournament.|
|Apr 7-10||Golf||Masters||Augusta, USA||Danny Willett won with a score of 283 (–5), beating defending champion Jordan Spieth.|
|Apr 9||Horse Racing||Grand National||Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool||Won by 33/1 shot 'Rule The World'|
|Apr 18||Marathon||Boston Marathon||Boston, USA||Both of the winners were from Ethiopia: Lemi Berhanu Hayle (men) won in a time of 2:12:45, Atsede Baysa (women) won with a time of 2:29:19.|
|May 6-22||Ice Hockey||IIHF World Championship||Moscow, St. Petersburg Russia||Canada won their 26th gold medal, defeating Finland 2–0 in the gold medal game.|
|May 7||Horse Racing||Kentucky Derby||Louisville, Kentucky, US||won by undefeated 3-1 favorite Nyquist.|
|May 8-12||Multi-sports||Invictus Games||Orlando, Florida, USA||15 countries participated|
|May 21||Football (Soccer)||FA Cup final||Wembley Stadium, London||In a repeat of the 1990 FA Cup Final, Manchester United defeated Crystal Palace.|
|May 22-Jun 5||Tennis||French Open||Paris, France||Novak Djokovic won the men's singles, making a career Grand Slam. Roger Federer withdrew before the tournament due to an injury, the first Grand Slam he has missed since 2000. The women's was won by Spain's Garbiñe Muguruza, her first Grand Slam victory.|
|May 28||Football (Soccer)||UEFA Champions League final||San Siro in Milan, Italy||Played between Spanish teams Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, a repeat of the 2014 final and the 2nd time that both finalists were from the same city. Real Madrid won 5–3 on a penalty shoot-out after a 1–1 draw at the end of extra time.|
|May 29||Marathon||Comrades Ultra Marathon||South Africa|
|May 30-Jun 15||Ice Hockey||Stanley Cup finals||San Jose and Pittsburgh, USA||The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated San Jose Sharks 4 games to 2 to win their fourth championship. For the first time since 2011, an Eastern Conference team won the Stanley Cup.|
|Jun 2-5||Extreme Sports||Summer X Games||Del Valle, Austin TX|
|Jun 2-19||Basketball||NBA Finals||USA/Canada||Cleveland Cavaliers defeated Golden State Warriors 4-3. The Cavaliers became the first team ever to recover from a three games to one deficit. LeBron James was named NBA Finals MVP.|
|Jun 3-26||Football (Soccer)||Copa América Centenario||United States||Chile defeated Argentina in the final, becoming the 4th nation to win at least two consecutive Copa América titles.|
|Jun 10-Jul 10||Football (Soccer)||Euro 2016||France||Portugal shocked France with a 1-0 extra time victory in the final.|
|Jun 16-19||Golf||US Open||Oakmont CC, Oakmont, Pennsylvania||Dustin Johnson won by three shots to claim his first major championship.|
|Jun 27-Jul 10||Tennis||Wimbledon||London, England||Andy Murray won his 2nd Wimbledon, and Serena Williams her 7th. Williams equaled Steffi Graf's Open era record of 22 major singles titles.|
|July 1-25||Multi-sports||European Universities Games||Zagreb - Rijeka, Croatia|
|July 2-24||Cycling||2016 Tour de France||France||The winner was the UK rider Chris Froome of Team Sky, his third win in four years. He finished ahead of French rider Romain Bardet (AG2R) and Colombia's Nairo Quintana (Movistar).|
|July 14-17||Golf||The Open Championship||Royal Troon Golf Club, Ayrshire, Scotland||won by Henrik Stenson who achieved a record 20 under par.|
|July 28–31||Golf||US PGA||Baltusrol (Lower Course), Springfield, New Jersey||
Jimmy Walker from the US won his first major title in an exciting finish one stroke ahead of the defending champion and world's no.1 Australian Jason Day.
|Aug 5-21||Multi-sports||Summer Olympics||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil||USA led the medal tally in both gold and total medals. Team GB surprised and was second in terms of golds ahead of China. Nearly 60 countries won at least one gold, and 87 at least one medal|
|Aug 21-28||Rowing||World Rowing Championships||Rotterdam Netherlands|
|Aug 29-Sep 11||Tennis||US Open||New York, USA||Stan Wawrinka defeated defending champion Novak Djokovic in the men's final and Angelique Kerber defeated Karolína Plíšková in the women's singles final.|
|Sep 3-11||Baseball||Women's Baseball World Cup||Gijang, South Korea||Japan won their 5th title|
|Sep 7-18||Multi-sports||Paralympic Games||Rio, Brazil|
|Sep 17-29||Ice Hockey||World Cup of Hockey||Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada||12 years after the previous World Cup of Hockey, won by Canada.|
|Sep 24-Oct 3||Multi-sports||Asian Beach Games||Nha Trang, Vietnam|
|Sep 30-Oct 2||Golf||Ryder Cup||Hazeltine National Golf Club (Chaska, Minnesota)||The US won its first Ryder Cup title in eight years with a 17-11 victory over Europe|
|Oct 1||AFL||Grand Final||Melbourne, Australia||The western Bulldogs beat the Sydney Swans, winning their first premiership since 1954, breaking a 62-year drought|
|Oct 9-16||Cycling||UCI Road World Championships||Doha, Qatar|
|Oct 25-Nov 2||Baseball||World Series||Cleveland & Illinois, USA||The Chicago Cubs defeated the Indians in seven games to win their first World Series in 108 years.|
|Nov 1||Horse Racing||Melbourne Cup||Victoria, Australia||Almandin produced a strong late run to catch Heartbreak City in the final strides and win by a head|
|Nov 6||Marathon||New York Marathon||New York, USA||Possibly the largest marathon ever held with over 51,000 runners. Eritrea's Ghirmay Ghebreslassie was the fastest man in a time of 2 hours, 7 minutes, 51 seconds. Kenyan Mary Keitany won her third straight women's title in a time of 2 hours, 24 minutes, 26 seconds.|
|Dec 7-11||Swimming||FINA World Swimming Championships (25m)||Windsor, Canada|
If you have a correction or know of events that should be included here, please let me know.
- Vote for your Greatest 2016 Sporting Highlight
- Timeline (all years) in the world of sport
- Major Events Sport Calendar for 2016
- Highlights of Australian sport in 2016