My take on 2016 sport? More highs than lows

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There have been far more sporting highs than lows looking back on 2016.

Podium finishes internationally
Gold medal – Usain Bolt further proved he’s the greatest track sprinter of all time by taking his unbeaten Olympic run to nine with a third treble in Rio in the 100, 200, and relay.

Watching him in action is as close to perfection as humanly possible.

Silver – Michael Phelps took his Olympic gold medal tally to an astonishing 23, a record. The difference between the American and the Jamaican is Phelps has had seven events to compete in compared to Bolt’s three, and Phelps has been beaten six times in his Olympic career.

Bolt’s unbeaten.

Bronze – Sir Andy Murray. If anyone had suggested at this time last year the Scot would be the undisputed world number one and knighted for his services to tennis, he or she would have been committed. But the 29-year-old with a second Wimbledon and a second Olympic gold was without peer in the second half of the year.

Australian podium for sportsmen
Gold – Steve Smith for passing 1000 Test runs in a calendar year for the third time on the trot, a feat not equalled by any current Test batsmen internationally. The skipper has been the backbone of the Australian batting, and the world’s top ranked batsman, with the tour to India next month the acid test.

Silver – Jason Day as the world’s top ranked golfer. In an era where Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and Henrik Stenson are also world class, it says volumes for Day’s standing in the sport.

Bronze – Danny Ricciardo. If he was a Mercedes driver there’s little doubt he would be the third Australian to be world formula one champion after Sir Jack Brabham and Alan Jones. But he’s a Red Bull driver, yet still finished third in this year’s championship.

Australian podium for sportswomen
Gold – Kim Brennan (nee Crow). She was the heir apparent to Jana Pittman as world champion over the 400m hurdles until a serious leg injury ruined that prospect. Kim headed for the gym to strengthen her leg, and it became obvious rowing was an alternative on the way to a world championship gold, and now Olympic gold from Rio.

Silver – Charlotte Caslick was a stand-out in the inaugural women’s sevens at Rio with a combination of Mark Ella, Tim Horan, David Campese, and Israel Folau brilliance in attack that led to a stunning gold medal.

Bronze – Chloe Esposito set a new Olympic record of 1372 points in winning modern pentathlon gold at Rio. Chloe did as much for her sport as Michelle Payne did for women jockeys in winning the 2015 Melbourne Cup.

The disappointments
Maria Sharapova testing drug positive.

The Wallabies 6-8 record this year, including four losses in four to England.

Tough Sharks forward Andrew Fifita publicly supporting a convicted one-punch killer to the detriment of his own career.

The Australian swim team in Rio, especially Cam McEvoy, and the Campbell sisters.

And Nick Kyrgios, who just can’t stop being a prat. Yesterday he was asked his thoughts on record 17 Slam champion Roger Federer. “He’s a pretty good tennis player, I guess”.

A memorable year for drought breaking
Leicester City topped the list after winning the English Premier League, or its equivalent, for the first time in 132 years. They were 5000-1 outsiders among the British bookies..

The Chicago Cubs ended a 108-year drought by capturing the MLB title.

The Western Bulldogs ended a 62-year drought by winning the AFL grand final.

The Cronulla Sharks won their first NRL title in their 50th year.

And the Hurricanes won their first Super Rugby premiership in 21 years.

Thanks for the memories
Two icons of international sport died this year – Muhammad Ali (74), and Arnold Palmer (87).

Test cricketers Max Walker (68), and Johnny Gleeson (78)

Wallaby hooker Peter Johnson (78).

Kangaroos Ken Thornett (78), and Dud Beattie (81), with highly-respected rugby league administrator Ron Massey.

VFL/AFL – Neville Crowe (79), and Paul Couch (51)

Sporting media legends Norman May and Rebecca Wilson.

Golfer Dan Cullen (101)

Boxing’s Arthur Tunstall (94).

Swimmer Judy Joy Davies, and famous coach Forbes Carlile.

The world’s first surfing world champion Midget Farrelly (71).

Long distance athlete Merv Lincoln (82)

And jockey Bob Skelton (82).

That was the year that was, with a happy New Year to the Roar family.