Top 10 sports headlines of 2016

As 2016 nears an end, Yahoo Singapore looks back at the year’s top sporting headlines.

Yahoo Singapore's top sports headlines of 2016.
Yahoo Singapore’s top sports headlines of 2016.

10. Angelique Kerber and Andy Murray become world number 1 in tennis

Andy Murray finally topped the men’s rankings for the first time in his 11-year career, and in doing so, he also became the first Briton to top the men’s rankings since 1973. He also went on to defeat rival Novak Djokovic in the ATP World Tour, which ensured that he would hold onto the top spot until the end of 2016.

Murray is also the first player to win Grand Slam, ATP World Tour, Olympic Games and Master 1000 titles in the same calendar year.

In women’s tennis, Angelique Kerber dethroned long-time No. 1 Serena Williams after the German won her second Grand Slam at the US Open. At the age of 28, Kerber is the oldest woman to reach the number one spot for the first time.

9. Jermaine Pennant joins and leaves Tampines Rovers in the same year

It is no secret that the S. League has been on a downhill trend, but the fledging local football league received a boost when Tampines Rovers signed former Liverpool and Arsenal winger Jermaine Pennant.

The former England youth international certainly helped to generate hype and is arguably the biggest name to play in the S. League since its inception in 1996.

However, Pennant left after 10 months with five S. League goals to his name and no memorable performances to recall. It’s back to square one for the S. League once again.

The 2016 Golden State Warriors won an NBA-record 73 games in the regular season, but they fell just short after losing a seven-game series to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland won after becoming the first team to ever come back from a 3-1 series deficit in the NBA Finals.
Getty Images.

8. Stephen Curry and Golden State Warriors break NBA’s regular season record

After winning their first title in 40 years in 2015, the Golden State Warriors were heavy favourites to finish the regular season with the best record but even then, no one could have imagined what they would go on to achieve.

Under assistant Luke Walton, who stood in for head coach Steve Kerr as he recovered from a back injury, the Warriors were undefeated in their first 24 games, a new record.

They would go on to finish with 73 wins over 82 games in the regular season, eclipsing the previous record set by the Chicago Bulls in 1995-96. In addition, the team also set an NBA record of 54-straight regular season home game winning streak that spanned from January 2015 to March 2016.

Star point-guard Stephen Curry had a phenomenal season too, and was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the second straight season, the first player in history to win the award by unanimous vote.

Tragically, the Warriors failed to cap their dream season with the NBA title. In the best-of-seven Finals series, they allowed the Cleveland Cavaliers to overcome a 3-1 deficit to give LeBron James his first title with the Cavs.

Getty Images.
Getty Images.

7. Maria Sharapova gets banned after failing drug test

One of most marketable faces in tennis shocked the sports world after she tested positive for banned substance meldonium at the Australian Open.

Maria Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam winner, was given a two-year ban from tennis as a result. She appealed the decision on the grounds that she had been taking meldonium since 2006 to treat a heart condition and was unaware that it had been on the banned substance list since the start of 2016.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport later reduced the ban term to 15 months. The 29-year-old will be eligible to return to the game on 26 April 2017, with a comeback expected at the French Open.

6. Portugal lifts European Championship for first time

Portugal finally won their first-ever major football competition in June when they defeated hosts France in the Euro 2016 final.

Prior to the knockout stages though, any talk of a Portugal triumph would have been brushed off. They toiled to three draws in three games in the group stages and had just one win in regulation time throughout the entire tournament.

In a game that is all about the final result, an unlikely hero brought home the win. With captain and star player Cristiano Ronaldo sidelined by injury in the final, substitute Eder’s goal in the 109th minute of the match won Portugal the coveted trophy.

Leicester City won the Premier League last term. Who will lift the trophy at the end of this one? (Getty)
Getty Images.

5. Leicester City clinches English Premier League title in fairytale run

Leicester City completed what seemed to be the impossible in May when they lifted the English Premier League title. Up against big clubs such as Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and both Manchester clubs, the Foxes came out of nowhere to take the league by storm on a shoestring budget.

Players like Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy, Danny Drinkwater and Danny Simpson all spent time playing in the lower leagues as well, making the title run even more remarkable. It was certainly a refreshing twist to the EPL season which has often been dominated by clubs with cash to spend.

What’s more astonishing is the fact that just 12 months prior to their title win, the club were mired in a relegation battle in which they narrowly escaped.

Professional boxer Muhammad Ali died on June 3, 2016 at 74 from septic shock after living more than 30 years with Parkinson's disease. Photo from Getty Images
Getty Images.

4. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali passes away

The passing of boxing giant Muhammad Ali at the age of 74 in June led to an outpouring of tributes from politicians, celebrities and athletes around the world to a man considered by many as the greatest athlete of all time.

Previously known as Cassius Clay, the boxer shot to fame in 1960 after winning gold at the Rome Olympics. He went on to become the only three-time lineal heavyweight champion. Several of his fights have entered into sporting lore including “Thrilla in Manila” against Joe Frazier and “Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman.

After he embraced Islam, Ali became more outspoken outside the boxing ring. As an activist, he dissented against the Vietnam War and racial divisions in the US.

Ali was later diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome, which was attributed to brain injuries sustained during his career. When Ali retired in 1981, he had won 56 out of 61 professional fights, including 37 by knockout.

3. Usain Bolt completes the Olympic triple treble, Michael Phelps becomes the most bemedalled Olympian

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt won three gold medals in the Rio Games – the first time that any sprinter had won gold medals in three consecutive Olympic Games.

In his final Olympic appearance, Bolt won the 100m, 200m and 4x100m gold, taking his gold medal tally to nine. For his accomplishments, he was named the Male Athlete of the Year by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

But Rio was not just about Lighting Bolt as swimming legend Michael Phelps bowed out of the Olympic stage as the most decorated Olympian ever with 23 gold medals. The 31-year-old American’s tally of 13 gold medals for individual events beat a 2,168-year-old ancient Olympic record set by Leonidas of Rhodes.

The Baltimore Bullet secured five golds in Rio including two individuals golds and smashed more records along the way. He helped the US swimming team to become the first to win four consecutive gold medals in the 4x200m freestyle relay.

Theresa Goh and Yip Pin Xiu showing off their Rio Paralympics medals. Photo: Stefanus Ian
Theresa Goh and Yip Pin Xiu showing off their Rio Paralympics medals. Photo: Stefanus Ian

2. Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh’s outstanding performances at the Rio Paralympics

Swimmers Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh did Singapore proud at the Rio Paralympics in September.

Yip won two gold medals and rewrote her own world record in the 100m backstroke (S2), while Goh clinched a bronze in the 100m breaststroke event (SB4) – her first-ever Paralympic medal after having taken part in four editions of the Games.

There were calls from the public for the duo to be given the same monetary rewards that able-bodied athletes receive for winning medals at major Games. But Yip and Goh said that the amount of prize money was never on their minds, adding that they were motivated to challenge themselves in the sport.


1. Joseph Schooling clinches Singapore’s first-ever Olympic gold

A new chapter was written in Singapore’s history on 12 August 2016 when Joseph Schooling secured the country’s first-ever Olympic gold medal in Rio.

By winning the 100-metre butterfly event with an Olympic record timing of 50.39 seconds, Schooling triggered an unprecedented tidal wave of pride and excitement among Singaporeans at the same time that he fulfilled his boyhood dream.

Schooling was given star treatment when he returned home to a rapturous hero’s welcome, capped by a victory parade around Singapore. In recognition of his feat, Schooling was given a $1 million award.