My 2016 sporting highlights and predictions
It’s an Olympic year so it seems right to mark your card with what promise to be 2016’s sporting highlights. Here is my month-by-month guide and a few predictions.
January – It’s (another) big year for Andy Murray starting with the Australian Open (now to Jan 31). He ended 2015 as world number two and has made the final in Melbourne four times. He will also be defending his Olympic title in the summer.
February – Can England under new head coach Eddie Jones put the disappointment of the Rugby World Cup behind them? We’ll begin to find out during the course of the RBS Six Nations (Feb 6-March 19) as he bloods some hungry young players.
March – England may be a dark horse for the Cricket World Twenty20 in India (March 8-April 3) if the likes of Ben Stokes, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler hit their best explosive form. Home Test series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan will follow in the summer.
April – For me the London Marathon (April 24) never fails to inspire. It attracts the world’s elite runners and 36,000 mere mortals who each have a story to tell.
May – In football everything is decided this month. With luck the Premiership title race will go to the wire with the last games to be played on May 15. The FA Cup will follow on May 21 and the Champions League Final on May 28.
June – Welsh and Irish fans will help turn the European Championships in France (June 10-July 10) into one month-long party. England are in Group B and play Russia on June 11, Wales on June 16 and Slovakia on June 20. Finish top of their group and they will play a third placed team in the first of the knock-out stages and should progress to the quarter-finals at least. Well, that’s the theory!
July – Chris Froome will be trying to win an unprecedented Tour de France (July 2-24), Olympic road race (August 6) and Olympic time trial (August 10) treble. In my humble opinion he should have won the 2015 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award but if he achieves this feat surely no-one can deny him again?
August – The ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, the Summer Olympic Games, will be held in Rio from August 5-21 and there will be stories everywhere. Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford, Nicola Adams, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Alistair and Jonny Brownlee et al will be looking to go down in Olympic history while a raft of new names will explode onto the world’s stage. Can’t wait – better book some time off now!
September – Rio 2016 will be the biggest Paralympic Games ever (Sept 7-18). The GB team won 120 medals including 34 golds at London 2012 (finishing third in the medals table behind only China and Russia) and aim to go even better this time round.
October – Golf’s Ryder Cup (Sept 30-Oct 2) is simply a great sporting event. Can captain Darren Clarke guide Europe to victory on US soil at Chaska, Minnesota? Hopefully it will go down to the last few pairings.
November – Back to Murray, how will he fair at the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 London (Nov 14-20), and will he and the British team be able to defend their Davis Cup title (Nov 25-27)?
December – Leicester City’s first foray (hopefully) into the Champions League with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich will see them reach the end of the group stage (Dec 6-7). Will they, I wonder, be a knock-out or be knocked out?