Historic and memorable sporting events occur every year and there is no doubt 2016 was a monumental one. From multiple all-time greats retiring to supposed jinxes and curses being wiped away, the past 12 months saw some great achievements made by teams and individuals alike. From Michael Phelps breaking a more than 2,000-year-old Olympic record to Kobe Bryant walking off the court one last time As the end of 2016 quickly approaches and we prepare for another year of magical sporting milestones, here is a look back at some of the events that helped to define the year
In a year when the world lost this icon of world sport it seems unfair to knock him off the No 1 spot — a position he has held on many lists of this nature for decades. The measure of Ali’s greatness was the wall-to-wall coverage he was afforded when he died earlier this year. He was remembered as man who not only transformed the sport of boxing, but was a key figure who changed the opinion of a generation. Of course, he was an egotistical loudmouth who spoke first and then spoke again. But it is his exploits in the ring that make him one of the most revered sportsman of all time.
For 20 years, the Black Mamba symbolised the NBA, transcending the sport to unprecedented levels. Remaining loyal to the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant took the baton from Michael Jordan in becoming basketball’s flagship player. At the age of 37, the five-time champion and 18-time All-Star ended his career against the Utah Jazz in April of this year, having scored 60 points. And to top it all off, Bryant amassed 33,570 career points, the third highest in NBA history. Entering the NBA straight from high school, Bryant was the 13th overall pick during the NBA’s 1996 draft by the Charlotte Hornets, who then went on to trade Bryant to the Lakers. The rest is history and April 13 forever lives on as “Mamba Day.”
and Ronaldo broke down into his signature tears.
Portugal Wins First EURO Championship Title
On July 10, 2016, Portugal took home their first prestigious title ever when they beat France during the European Championship finals in extra time. Though captain and poster boy Cristiano Ronaldo was forced off with an injury just after 25 minutes of play, a late goal from substitute Eder helped A Seleção rewrite history. Portugal fans from all over the world celebrated and Ronaldo broke down into his signature tears.
Usain Bolt Gains “Triple-Triple” Status
The fastest man on Earth brought his spectacular Olympic career to a thrilling close by completing his “Triple-Triple” mission. Bolt brought home nine gold medals in which he swept the 100m, 200m and 4×100-meter sprint relay events in three successive Olympic Games. Stating that this would be his final Olympic appearance, we’ll need to wait awhile before another athlete is able to fill his shoes, going down in history as one of the greatest runners of all time.
Michael Phelps Breaks 2,000-Year-old Olympic Record
Usain Bolt may be the fastest on land, but Michael Phelps definitely dominates the water. As the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, Phelps’s gold medal count sits at 22. What’s more impressive is his individual victories have broken a more than 2,000-year-old Olympic record, set by Leonidas of Rhodes in 152 B.C. After his victory in the 200-meter Individual Medley at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Phelps has claim to an unprecedented 13 individual Olympic victories compared to Leonidas’s 12. Phelps is now also the only swimmer to have won the same event, the 200m medley, in four consecutive Olympic Games.
Leicester City Win the Premier League Title
Just one year removed from earning promotion into the English Premier League, Leicester City went on to win one of the unlikeliest titles in the history of professional sports. After starting the season at 5,000 – 1 odds, fans saw the Foxes take down the best teams in England and Jamie Vardy’s rags to riches rise all the way to the finish. Though Leicester City won its games from across the pond, its unprecedented run made for good theater stateside as well.
Serena William Ties Steffi Graf’s Record for 22 Major Wins
Four years prior, Serena Williams looked further from Steffi Graf’s Open-Era record 22 Grand Slam titles than she had in a decade. At 30 years old, and older than Graf was when she’d won her 22nd major, Williams defeated Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3 in the Wimbledon Final finally winning her long-awaited record-tying Grand Slam.