2016 looks set to be a year of heart-racing, action-packed events where we’ll all be spoilt for sport.
Peugeot kicked off this stellar year of sport in stunning fashion, topping the leaderboard at the Dakar Rally with some heart-racing off-road action. Drivers from across the world tackled the roughest terrain from Argentina to Bolivia in a test of sheer motoring endurance from 3 to 16 of January.
Driving a revamped 2016 2008DKR (pictured above), Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret emerged victorious* covering over 5,500 miles of gravel, dirt and sand. If you weren’t quick enough to catch the event, the 2008DKR team will return to defend their crown at the China Grand Rally, where in 2015 they claimed a historic one-two.
Journeying from the sand dunes of South America to the hard tennis courts of Australia, current world No.1 Novak Djokovic was successful in the defence of his title in the Australian Open final, beating current world No.2 Andy Murray and equaling the Grand Slam records of Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver at 11. Can he go on to break more records in 2016?
Did you sport a giant foam appendage on one hand and have telly snacks in the other for Super Bowl 50? The 50th anniversary match took place at the home of the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, California on 7 February. For those of us who couldn’t fathom the game itself, we still got to witness a typically spectacular half-time show (featuring Coldplay), with enough entertainment to compensate for any lulls in the first half.
Back on British turf, the RBS 6 Nations kicked off on 6 February when Scotland and England contested the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield. Current RBS 6 Nations Champions Ireland also began their campaign against Wales in Dublin on 7 February.
The biggest names in track cycling get ready to hit London for the World Track Championships at the old London 2012 stomping ground of the Lee Valley VeloPark (2-6 March). All eyes will be on Team GB as they attempt to repeat the stellar success of London 2012, racing against the best in the world to get hold of those rainbow jerseys.
Springing into action
April is the month for armchair athletes: the world’s greatest golfers compete at The Masters in Augusta, Georgia from 7-10 April and then the London Marathon (24 April) sees the good, the bad and the ridiculous of the long-distance running world take on the longest scenic route around the Big Smoke. Even British astronaut Tim Peake is joining in simultaneously from space!
May sees the domestic football season wrap up with the FA Cup Final on 21 May, which this year will be something of an appetiser to Euro 2016. Kicking off in Paris on 10 June, the host nation is among the favourites to win the competition, which will conclude at the Stade de France on 10 July.
Brazil turns up the heat
The summer of sport culminates in the main event; yes, it really has been four years since the UK was buzzing with Olympic and Paralympic fever. As memories of London 2012 begin to fade, the action moves to Rio for 2016. Since 2012 heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill (pictured below) has got married, had a baby, won gold at the World Athletics Championships and looks certain to retain her Olympic title at the Maracanã Stadium in what may be her last outing as an Olympian. If anyone knows how to party it’s the Brazilians, so clear the TV schedule for the opening ceremony on Friday 5 August.
Back in Britain, things take on a more refined air with Wimbledon (27 June to 10 July) bringing you gently into the summer, when recent Davis Cup winner Jamie Murray will be looking to repeat his success in the Australian Open with doubles partner Bruno Soares.
Moving into the autumn months, the Ryder Cup tees off on American soil on 30 September, culminating in the final round of Team USA versus Team EUR on 2 October. Can Darren Clarke’s European side make it four wins in a row?
From the somewhat pedestrian to the flat-out speed of F1, as the heated rivalry between British defending world champion Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg resumes. The Grand Prix circuit will once again roll into Abu Dhabi on 27 November for the season finale, after which sports fans can take a well-earned breather before it all starts again in 2017…
Ones to watch
1. Borna Ćorić, 19, Croatia, Tennis
Rapidly heading towards the top 20 in the ATP rankings, this young Croatian is already drawing comparisons with, whisper it, Novak Djokovic. He was named ATP’s Star of Tomorrow in 2014 and already has straight-set wins over Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray under his belt.
2. Fernando Gaviria, 21, Colombia, Cycling
One way to impress the prospective new boss is to beat him at his own game, and this hotly-tipped young Colombian did just that when he pipped Mark Cavendish to the post with two sprint finishes during the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. Cavendish promptly signed Gaviria to his own Etixx-Quick Step team prior to leaving last year.
3. Tyler Morgan, 20, Wales, Rugby
Keep an eye on this talented No.13, who rose through the ranks to earn his starting jersey against Fiji and South Africa during Wales’ World Cup 2015 campaign. Showing an aptitude for international rugby way beyond his years, the Newport Gwent Dragons centre is poised to make his mark on the Six Nations.
4. Jimmy Mullen, 22, England, Golf
He may not be competing for the US Masters green blazer just yet, but the 22-year-old Devon boy is the name on every pundit’s lips. Mullen turned professional at the end of 2015, after impressive victories in all four of his games at the 2015 Walker Cup.
5. Dele Alli, 19, England, Football
The Tottenham midfielder’s call-up to the England squad may have come a little too soon for some but there’s no doubt that his debut season in the Premier League has left an impression. By June, this talented, assured young player could just be the wildcard that England need to progress to the latter stages of Euro 2016.
6. Dina Asher-Smith, 20, England, Athletics
She became the first British female to run the 100m in under 11 seconds at the Anniversary Games in 2015, and broke the British record for the women’s 200m at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing one month later. Asher-Smith may have missed out on the medals in China, but is poised to step up to the podium for Rio 2016.
7. Niek Kimmann, 19, Netherlands, BMX
After winning the Junior Men then the Elite Men UCI BMX World Championships in successive years, Niek Kimmann has set his stall out early at the tender age of 19. With the Olympics in Rio on the horizon, as well as his title to defend at the BMX Championships, this year looks set to be a marquee 12 months for him.
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