2016 has seen a host of incredible achievements from the men of the sporting world and we have selected five who stood head and shoulders above the rest.
The Scot has been bubbling under for some time now and finally seems to have shaken that monkey in the form of Novak Djokovic off his back.
Murray enjoyed a superlative season on court, notching up no less than nine titles and compiling an impressive 78-9 win/loss record.
Among the Scot’s wins were three Masters 1000 titles and an Olympic gold at the Rio Olympics. However, the feather in his cap for the year was undoubtedly his third grand slam title, claimed when he defeated Milos Raonic in straight sets at Wimbledon.
But the divide between Djokovic and Murray still existed in the rankings. The 29-year-old put that to bed by defeating the classy Serb to clinch his first ATP World Tour Finals title and cement his place as world number one.
Murray will look to continue his incredible 26-match winning streak in the new year.
The indomitable Irishman has almost singlehandedly taken the sport of UFC to new heights with his antics in and out of the octagon.
Known for his psychological warfare in the pre-fight hype and aggressive striking in the octagon, McGregor has proved himself as both a marketer’s dream and a formidable opponent.
The UFC featherweight champion fought three times in 2016, winning twice. After his opponent pulled out of a lightweight championship fight, he bravely accepted a fight at welterweight against Nate Diaz, which he lost via submission.
However, McGregor got his revenge with a narrow points win over Diaz in the rematch, which was one of the bloodiest fights in UFC history.
The Dublin native finally got his shot at the lightweight belt in November, where he beat Eddie Alvarez via a knockout in the second round, becoming the first simultaneous two-division UFC champion in history.
The Jamaican sensation has won hearts the world over with his endearing nature and sheer pace on the athletics track.
In the lead-up to the Rio Olympics, Bolt competed sparingly on the track, leaving rival Justin Gatlin to clock incredibly fast times and enter the Olympic as the favourite for the 100m and 200m titles. Unfortunately for the American, it was only on paper…
After breezing through the heats, Bolt grabbed his first gold in the 100m with a time of 9.81 seconds. In his favoured event, the man they call the Lightning Bolt eased to a comfortable win in the 200m for his second gold.
Running the anchor leg for the Jamaican team in the 4×100 relay, Bolt claimed another gold and wrote his name into the history as arguably the greatest sprinter ever. That final gold meant Bolt had completed the ‘triple triple’ with three golds in three consecutive Olympics.
The Portuguese legend just somehow keeps getting better with age. Whether it’s in a Real Madrid shirt or for his beloved Portugal, Ronaldo seeking always produces the goods.
For a player has scored over 50 goals a season across all competitions for six consecutive years, records were bound to tumble at some stage. Ronaldo became Real Madrid’s all-time top scorer with 324 goals last October.
While he was runner up to Lionel Messi in the Ballon d’Or last year, he carried on his fantastic form unperturbed, helping Real Madrid to the Champions League semi-finals with a hat-trick. The treble made him the tournament’s top scorer for the fifth consecutive edition. As if it was written in the stars, Ronaldo would score the winning penalty in the final against Atletico Madrid.
The 31-year-old also shone for Portugal as he captained them to their first European Championship title. Of course, records fell along the way. He became the first player to score in four Euro editions and Portugal’s most capped player with 136 appearances to date.
After a near flawless season with just one retirement, the Spanish rider claimed his third MotoGP title this year in just his fourth year of racing in the premier class.
Marquez was a picture of consistency in 2016, earning a spot on the podium in 12 out of the 18 races this season. His fast start certainly helped him to the title, as he had three wins and three runner-ups in the first nine races.
Such was the 23-year-old’s dominance that his fifth win at the Japanese MotoGP sealed the rider’s championship with three races in hand.
While he was forced to retire from the Australian MotoGP, the pole position he earned took him to a record 65 pole positions, the most in the history of motorcycling.
Together with his three MotoGP titles, Marquez’s Moto2 and 125cc titles mean he is also the youngest rider to be a five-time champion.