FOX Sports Asia weighs up the best moments of another banner sporting year, including Joseph Schooling’s incredible Olympic triumph and Iceland’s famous Euro 2016 win over England.
Joseph Schooling’s Olympic gold
It took 51 years, but Singapore finally claimed its first gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games in Rio this year.
The man who brought them that victory was a 21-year-old swimmer named Joseph Isaac Schooling, who claimed an emphatic victory in the 100m butterfly final.
Schooling’s winning time of 50.39 seconds was a national, Asian, and Olympic record, and was 0.75 faster than Michael Phelps, Chad le Clos and László Cseh, who all tied for silver. It was also the largest winning margin in the event since Mark Spitz’s victory at the 1972 Summer Olympics.
When he was just 13, Schooling managed to snap a picture of himself with his hero Phelps when the US swim team turned up at a swim training camp in Singapore. Eight years later, he beat the American on the greatest stage of them all.
Andy Murray’s Wimbledon triumph
Few people could have predicted that 2016 would be the year that Andy Murray eclipsed the achievements of Novak Djokovic and grabbed the World No 1 tennis ranking. Djokovic had been so utterly dominant in preceding years that it seemed almost a certainty that it would be a case of more of the same in 2016. And indeed, the first half of the season saw Djokovic dominate with wins over the Scot in the Australian Open and French Open finals.
But rather than throw in the towel, Murray kept working incredibly hard behind the scenes, determined to find a way past the top-ranked Serb, and he would be rewarded for his grit and perseverance with his second Wimbledon title and third Major title overall in July, captured in front of a rapturous home crowd at SW19 in London after a straight sets win over Milos Raonic.
He would go on to win Olympic gold and go on an incredible winning streak in the latter half of the season that would see him take over from Djokovic at the top of the world rankings, becoming the first player to win Grand Slam, ATP World Tour Finals, Olympic Games and Masters 1000 titles in the same calendar year.
Angelique Kerber’s Australian Open victory
There was also a surprise in the women’s tennis singles this year, as Germany’s Angelique Kerber surprised everyone by unseating Serena Williams at the top of the world rankings. In many ways, Williams losing the top spot was even more shocking than Djokovic’s fall, so dominant has she been in the women’s game.
But 2016 was Kerber’s year, and it was all set up by a huge confidence-boosting 6–4, 3–6, 6–4 victory over Williams in the final of the Australian Open at the start of the year.
That gave Kerber her first Grand Slam title and more importantly showed the world that she was capable of beating Williams when it mattered.
Kerber would go on to reach the final of Wimbledon and pick up her second Grand Slam at the US Open too, as she deservedly became the new World No 1.
Iceland stuns England at Euro 2016
Just what caused England’s downfall at Euro 2016 and their historic loss to minnows Iceland? That is a question that will be asked for many more years to come.
The shock 2-1 result not only sent the tiny European nation to the quarter-finals of the European Championship, it also sent England crashing out, effectively ending manager Roy Hodgson’s England career.
Wayne Rooney may have given the Three Lions the lead after just four minutes thanks to an early penalty, but Ragnar Sigurdsson equalised almost immediately before Kolbeinn Sigthorsson gave Iceland the lead on 18 minutes.
From that point on, Iceland were simply the better team in just about every aspect of the game, as they deservedly hung on for one of the biggest upset victories in European footballing history.
Iceland’s run may have come to end against France in the quarter-finals, but their famous win over England won’t soon be forgotten.
Usain Bolt’s triple treble
Is Usain Bolt the greatest Olympic track and field athlete of all time? He certainly made a strong case for that at the Rio Games this year.
Competing in his last Games, the Jamaican retired from Olympic competition with an astonishing full house of nine successive gold sprint medals – winning the 100m, 200m and 4x100m in 2008, 2012 and 2016.
It’s a simply astonishing achievement by any measure, considering that Carl Lewis is the only previous man to have won two Olympic 100m sprint gold medals. Nobody had ever done it in the 200m as well. Or three times in a row.
Will there ever be another athlete like Bolt? Time and history seem to suggest otherwise.