Flashback 2016: Year of the sporting underdogs


Flashback 2016: Year of the sporting underdogs

The 2016 sporting season saw some of the biggest sporting upsets in recent memory as teams and individuals counted out as underdogs defied crazy odds to come out on top.

From the English Premier League 5000/1 winners Leicester City’s to Cleveland Cavaliers’ stunning upset win over Golden State Warriors in Game Seven of the NBA Finals, 2016 has delivered a gallery of iconic moments that made a mockery of sports pundits and shocked the world.

Here are some of the historic moments that defined a truly exciting year and whose tales will live to be told for generations.

  1. Leicester City’s 5000/1 fairy tale.

Written off as relegation candidates at the start of the season when the bookmakers made Leicester 5,000-1 outsiders, the Foxes completed one of the most remarkable sporting stories in history to be crowned English Premier League champions.

Leicester City's midfielder Riyad Mahrez (L) embraces striker Jamie Vardy during an English Premier League football match on May 7, 2016 (AFP Photo/Adrian Dennis)
Leicester City’s midfielder Riyad Mahrez (L) embraces striker Jamie Vardy during an English Premier League football match on May 7, 2016 (AFP Photo/Adrian Dennis)

 

  1. Portugal wins the Euro 2016 crown
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo holds the trophy after winning the Euro 2016 final soccer match between Portugal and France at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Sunday, July 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo holds the trophy after winning the Euro 2016 final soccer match between Portugal and France at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Sunday, July 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Portugal overcame the loss of injured captain Cristiano Ronaldo to beat France 1-0 in the European Championship final on Sunday, with a goal in extra time from substitute Eder securing their country’s first football title.

Just as the final looked destined for a penalty shootout, Eder cut through the French defense and struck a low shot from 25 meters past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in the 109th minute at the Stade de France.

  1. Cavs’ stunning Game 7 triumph over Golden State Warriors
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers holds the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA – JUNE 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers holds the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers to end Cleveland’s 52-year wait for a first major sports title, thanks to an epic 93-89 Game 7 win over the Golden State Warriors on the road. The Cavaliers won three straight games after facing elimination to claim the title.

  1. Chicago Cubs win the World Series
The Chicago Cubs celebrate after defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series (AFP Photo/Ezra Shaw)
The Chicago Cubs celebrate after defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series (AFP Photo/Ezra Shaw)

Ending America’s longest sports title drought in dramatic fashion, the Chicago Cubs captured their first World Series since 1908 by defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in a 10-inning thriller.

The Cubs took Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven final 4-3, ending what had been an iconic 107-year run of failure, frustration and futility.

  1. Angelique Kerber wins the Australian Open
Angelique Kerber of Germany kisses her winning trophy after defeating Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic in their 2016 US Open Women’s Singles final match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 10, 2016 (AFP Photo/Timothy A. Clary )
Angelique Kerber of Germany kisses her winning trophy after defeating Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic in their 2016 US Open Women’s Singles final match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 10, 2016 (AFP Photo/Timothy A. Clary )

Germany’s Angelique Kerber went from within one point of exiting the Australian Open in the opening round to stunning world number one Serena Williams in three sets to win her first Grand Slam title.

Kerber, seeded seventh, won a thrilling final 6-4 3-6 6-4 at Melbourne Park to win her first major title and thwarting Serena’s bid to match Steffi Graf’s record of 22 major wins.

  1. Danny Willett wins the US Masters

Danny Willett had never even made the top five at a major – placing 38th in his only previous Masters appearance – and yet, after a dramatic weekend at Augusta, the British golfer sat in the clubhouse with the iconic green jacket on his back.

Willett capitalized on an astonishing final-round collapse from defending champion Jordan Spieth to win one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments.

Masters champion Danny Willett, of England, gives a thumbs up after winning the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 10, 2016, in Augusta, Ga. (PHOTO/AP)
Masters champion Danny Willett, of England, gives a thumbs up after winning the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 10, 2016, in Augusta, Ga. (PHOTO/AP)
  1. Singapore’s Joseph Schooling defeats Michael Phelps in the Olympic 100m butterfly final

Singapore exploded in celebration Saturday after homegrown swimming hero Joseph Schooling beat US legend Michael Phelps in the 100m butterfly in Rio to win the tiny republic’s first ever Olympic gold.

The 21-year-old Asian champion set a new Olympic record of 50.39sec as he edged out his American idol Phelps, who ended in a sensational dead heat for silver alongside South Africa’s Chad le Clos and Laszlo Cseh of Hungary.

Silver medallist USA's Michael Phelps (L) waves nex to gold medallist Singapore's Schooling Joseph during the medal ceremony of the Men's 100m Butterfly Final during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 12, 2016. Odd Andersen / AFP
Silver medallist USA’s Michael Phelps (L) waves nex to gold medallist Singapore’s Schooling Joseph during the medal ceremony of the Men’s 100m Butterfly Final during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 12, 2016. (Odd Andersen / AFP)

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Story By Matthews Mutai
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