What a year 2016 has been!
Politically turbulent, rife with the deaths of legendary celebrities, but thankfully the world of sport was at hand to raise more than its fair share of smiles and celebrations.
Here are some of the year’s most memorable moments…
Foxes Lift Premier League
Where else is there to start?
After achieving a memorable escape from the Premier League’s trap door, Leicester City turned heads with the sacking of Nigel Pearson ahead of the 15/16 season bringing in the ‘Tinkerman’ Claudio Ranieri.
The Italian transformed the club and led them to unlikely, but incredible glory, exorcising the ghosts of a shameful pre-season trip to Asia with a domestic title.
England Win Grand Slam
England were crowned Six Nations champions in emphatic fashion as Eddie Jones men won the nation’s first Grand Slam since 2003.
The 13-year wait was ended in Paris with a 21-31 victory over France.
The tournament was far from its strongest, but that took none of the shine away from a tournament dominated by the men in white.
Danny Willet Triumphs At Augusta
The world watched on as Jordan Spieth capitulated at The Masters in April, and Danny Willet swooped to claim the Green Jacket.
His victory capped an incredible two years which saw the Englishman enter golf’s top ten having previously been outside the top 100.
Real Madrid Extend Champions League Record
Real Madrid met cross-city rivals Atletico once again in the final of europe’s largest club tournament.
The match went the distance and Los Blancos held their nerve to lift the coveted trophy for a record 11th time via penalties.
Admittedly they were breaking their own record, but hey, it’s a remarkable achievement nonetheless!
Cavs Claim NBA Finals
LeBron James earned his third NBA championship ring in June, as the Cleveland Cavaliers overcame Stephen Curry and The Golden State Warriors, overturning a 3-1 series deficit.
It was the first time any team has done so in the best-of-seven finals series.
James said in the wake of success:
I’ve had a goal for two years since I came back to bring a championship to the city.
I can’t wait to get off that plane, hold that trophy up and see all our fans at the terminal. To continue to be an inspiration to our city, it means everything.
Portugal Stun France At Euros
Portugal limped through the group stages in France to lift their first major honour at the expense of the tournament hosts.
The ‘one-man’ team were robbed of Cristiano Ronaldo’s talent midway through the first half of the final due to injury, Ronny understandably leaving the pitch in tears when it dawned trophy hopes were no longer at his feet.
But should he have worried? Nah, Eder made a huge impression from the bench with the only goal of the game in extra time.
Brownlee Brotherly Love
Possibly the most heartwarming sporting moment of the year unfolded as Alistair Brownlee gave up his chance to win the final of the World Triathlon Series, Mexico, to ensure his brother finished.
Jonny Brownlee had led but deteriorated in rapid fashion, stumbling and looking lost as he neared the finish.
Alistair rounded the corner, spotted his brother and let Henri Schoeman take first spot so he could carry Jonny over the line.
Bolt Achieves ‘Triple-Triple’
His legacy was never in doubt, but just to be certain Usain Bolt added another three Olympic gold medals to his cabinet.
The Rio games made it three Olympics, and three three-medal hauls – incredible!
An honourable mention must also go to Team GB’s Mo Farah on his double-double in the mens 5,000 and 10,000 metres.
Mystic Mac Makes History
Arguably the most recognisable sportsman on the planet at present, Conor McGregor made a lot of big promises and duly delivered on them in 2016.
Bouncing back from submission defeat against Nate Diaz, the Dubliner avenged the loss and followed it by becoming the first ever two-division champion in UFC history.
Eddie Alvarez put his lightweight title on the line at Madison Square Garden, but he was no match for the ever-confident Irishman.
He later relinquished his featherweight strap and confirmed he’ll be taking a break from the Octagon to see the birth of his child in the new year, and potentially negotiate a stake in the MMA promotion.
Cubs Break Curse
Cubs fans rejoice, 108 years of waiting for a World Series were finally put to bed in November.
The Cleveland Indians led the series 3-1 after game four, but the Cubs came roaring back sealing the title with an 8-7 victory in game seven.
And England fans moan about 50 years of ‘hurt’!
Murray Becomes World No.1
Andy Murray will enter 2017 as tennis world number one, and BBC Sport’s personality of the year.
enigmatic Scot won titles at the French Open, The Australian Open, and Wimbledon, plus he defended his Olympic gold in Rio before taking the singles crown at the ATP Tour Finals.
If he keeps this up maybe one day he’ll replace Tim Henman as Britain’s most renowned tennis player…
Tragedy Strikes In South America
The world collectively mourned as a plane crash outside the Colombian city of Medellin killed 71 passengers in November, including 19 members of Brazilian football team Chapecoense.
22 squad members were travelling to the final of the Copa Sudamericana when the tragedy struck. The incident resulted from the aircraft running out of fuel and was met by a global show of support for the club.
The team was awarded the Copa Sudamericana title at the request of opponents Atlético Nacional, who were given a fair play award from CONMEBOL for their actions.
It was a year that will live long in the memory.
An NCTJ Journalist with an MA in Sports Journalism, Kieron is an experienced social media journalist who has worked in the industry since 2015. His experience includes work with ITN, the MEN, WISH/WIRE/TOWER FM, and 8:50 Sports Digest… not forgetting his time at ASDA.