Year-Ender 2016: From Leicester’s title triumph to the rise of Rosberg

Sports have always been a lifeline for many. No matter how stressed one is, playing sports or watching a play may heal every bit of hassle.

Calendar year 2016 witnessed a lot of sports happening all across the globe and saw many sportsperson turning larger than life. As the year is about to end, let’s take a trip down memory lane to cherish the very best of every month in 2016.

January – Tennis transcripts the beginning

The year 2016 started on a stellar note for tennis enthusiasts as Serbian tennis icon Novak Djokovic outshone Andy Murray 6-1, 7-5 and 7-6 (3) to equal Roy Emerson’s record of six Australian Open titles.

However in the women’s single event, a shock defeat awaited Serena Williams and billions of her fans glued to their TV sets. Defending champion Williams lost 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to German tennis professional Angelique Kerber, who lifted the first Grand Slam of her career.

February – Sports for Peace, Progress and Prosperity

"Play for Peace, Progress and Prosperity," with this motto, the Indian PM Narendra Modi inaugrated the 12th edition of the 2016 South Asian Games in Guwahati and Shillong, India.

The hosts, India, being the sporting giant of the region, continued its dominance in the medal's tally with an astonishing 308 medals, including 188 gold.

Staggering perfrmence in the South Asian Games, ahead of the Rio Olympics 2016, was enough to ensure India's fans of a strong performence from its athletes in the Olympics as well.

March – West Indies wonder

Four consecutive sky-scraping sixes by Carlos Brathwiate ensured West Indies win their second title at the ICC World Twenty 20. The four-week tournament was concluded on April 3.

Marlon Samuels scored unbeaten 85 runs to pile up pressure on England and Brathwiate hammered the final nail in coffin, contributing with 34 runs (not out) as West Indies win by four wickets with two balls remaining in the final.

Besides men, West Indies women cricket team also lifted the World Cup to double the celebration. Opener Hayley Matthews smashed a stunning 66 off 45 balls to help the Windies beat Australia by 8 wickets to claim their maiden World T20 title.

Earlier in February, the Under-19 West Indies team also crowned as the Champions at the ICC Under-19 World Cup (50 over format).

April – Golf to shine the summers

English golfer Danny Willett stole the limelight in the year’s first major golf championship at Augusta, Georgia. Willett scored 5-under-par 67 in the final-round to become the first Englishman in two decades to win the Masters Tournament.

The 28-year-old golfer finished at 5-under-par 283, outshining home favourite Jordon Spieth and UK’s Lee Westwood by a winning margin of three shots.

Spieth’s close defeat cost him a thousand shattered dreams as he was bidding to create history at the Masters Tournament. The US golfer was awfully close of becoming just the fourth player in the 80 years of the tournament history to successfully defend his Masters title.

In the 80 years history of the Masters Tournament, only three players, Jack Nicklaus (1965-66), Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Tiger Woods (2001-02), have defended their title, winning two consecutive editions.

May – Leicester City's, Djokovic’s dream came true

The man with six Australian Open, three Wimbledon and two US Open, Novak Djokovic had a well-decorated trophy shelf. However, one trophy — French Open — was something that still far from his sight till the month of May.

Just like the Australian Open, Djokovic routed Andy Murray in the final, this time with 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4, to complete his career Grand Slam at the age of 29.

Djokovic became the first tennis professional since Rod Laver in 1969, to win all four Grand Slams at once.

May brought some luck for the English football club Leicester City too, who won their maiden title at the English Premier League.

Defeating the odds, Leicester, who were on the verge of relegation last year, emerged as the champions to script the biggest sports story of the year.

Amidst the fall of mega clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, Claudio Ranieri-managed Leicester played astonishing throughout the league. En route the triumph, they lost just three matches out of 38 in all.

June – Mighty Australia brace hockey dominance

Australian men’s hockey team Kookaburras have been a dreaded rival for every team across the globe. Having won nine medals at Olympics, which include one gold and three silver medals, Australia also rule the Hockey Champions Trophy.

In the biennial tournament, which was earlier an annual event, Australia have won the maximum number of titles (14).
In the 2016 edition of the tournament, Australia beat India by 3-1 in a shootout game after the 60-minute game concluded with a 0-0 scoreline.

July – Much awaited title for Ronaldo’s Portugal

“No one believed in Portugal, but the truth is we made it,” Portugal skipper Cristiano Ronaldo said in the locker room, with a lump in his throat. 

Portugal outclassed the hosts France 1-0, thanks to the substitute striker Eder, who undoubtedly deserved to be named as the hero of the match.

Eder scored with eleven minutes of extra time remaining and the Portugal to win the European Championship. The victory was even more touching for the star striker Ronaldo, who suffered injury during the match, however, he was the one with the biggest hands over the glittery trophy in the end.

“I am very happy. This is one of the happiest days of my life. Forget the individual trophies, the Champions League, this one right here is the happiest moment of my life. I have cried three or four times already. My brother had to tell me to calm down and I said Hudo, ‘I can’t’,” Ronaldo said in a video he shared after the much awaited triumph.

August – Sindhu’s Silver to bring back smile 

Despite driving fast in the beginning on the road to Rio, India missed the path in between and many of the largest athletes contingent (118), started collapsing like dominoes. 

It was Indian girls, Sakshi Malik and PV Sindhu, who bring back smiles on the faces of Indians, who waited for a medal form the Rio Olympics desperately.

Shuttler Sindhu won India's first Silver medal in the badminton sport, after losing 21-19, 12-21, 15-21 to Spain's Carolina Marin. Earlier, Malik had won Bronze in the women's 58kg freestyle wrestling to end India’s medal draught in the sports’ life-size event.

September – Paralympians pick the pulse

Indian Olympians didn’t so wonders in the Rio Olympics, though the Paralympians shone to the fullest in the following event – 2016 Rio Paralympics. 

From just two medals in the Olympics, that too in the dying days of the event, Paralympians brought home four medals, two gold, a silver and a bronze medal.

Mariyappan Thangavelu, Devendra Jhajharia clinched gold in high jump and javelin throw respectively, while shot putter Deepa Malik won silver. 

Besides Thangavelu, Varun Singh Bhati claimed bronze medal in the high jump event.

October – Success story of India’s rural sport

Kabaddi, our own sport, remained a subject of flaunt for many in the year 2016 as India retained their supremacy in the rural sport, winning the Kabaddi World Cup 2016.

Under the captaincy of Anup Kumar, Indian national Kabaddi team beat Iran by 38-29 to claim their third successive title in the standard style Kabaddi World Cup. 

Raider Ajay Thakur was the marquee man for India with 12 points, though he was well supported by Nitin Tomar who contributed with causative six points. 

November – Rosberg’s silent rise and retirement

Mercedes’ driver Nico Rosberg clinched the 2016 World Championship, denying his teammate Lewis Hamilton, who was bidding for his fourth crown.

Despite finishing on the top at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Hamilton failed to secure the F1 2016 title, while Rosberg who finished on second was crowned world champion for the first time.

The 31-year-old races under a German licence and has now become the third German driver to win the world championship after Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, who won first time in 1994 and 2010 respectively.

December – Double delight besides Indian cricket supremacy

The month of December can be precisely defined in a phrase: “All's well that ends well.”

Indian sports fantics were full of the joys of spring in winters, as first India Test cricket team routed England 4-0 to finish on the top of the ICC Test team rankings and later the junior hockey team brought home the much-awaited World Cup title.

Leading by an example, star of all-three formats, Virat Kohli powered Indian Test side to best against visiting England side, who was trounced for a cleansweep victory.

On the other hand, Indian hockey registered a clinical 2-1 victory over Belgium to win the FIH Junior Hockey World Cup after a gap of 15 years. 

Gurjant Singh (8th minute) and Simranjeet Singh (22nd) were the celebrated heroes behind the close carnival of the year.