My shortlist for the world sportsman of 2016 is:
Wayde Van Niekerk (South Africa – Athletics) – winner of the Olympic gold at 400m, which he did by breaking the world record which had stood since 1999. He won all eleven of his races at 100m,10m and 400m and produced a 100m PB of 9.98, making him the first man in history to run faster than 10 seconds for 100m, 20 seconds for 200m and 44 seconds for 400m. He also won the African title at 200m.
Steph Curry (USA -Basketball) – had a brilliant NBA season with the Golden State Warriors and took the season MVP title with a unanimous vote and lead the league in scoring while shooting above 50–40–90. The Warriors broke the record for the most wins in an NBA season with 73 and Curry broke the record for 3 pts baskets.
Martin Fourcade (France – Biathlon) – became only the second male biathlete to win three golds and one silver in non-team competitions in a single World Championships and won all five world cup titles.
Martins Dukurs (Latvia – Skeleton) – another great season winning 7 out of 8 world cup races and the world championship.
Michael Jung (Germany – Equestrian Eventing) – his 2015/16 season was outstanding. He won the Kentucky and Badminton titles which added to the Burghleigh win in 2015 made him only the second rider ever to do the eventing Grand Slam. He then added the Olympic title.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal – Football) helped Real Madrid to the Champions League title and Portugal to the European Championship. He again won the Ballon D’Or as the outstanding footballer in the world.
Ryan Murphy (USA -Swimming) – won backstroke 100m and 200m gold and set a 100m world record in leading off the USA team which won the medley relay gold.
Adam Peaty (Great Britain – Swimming) – winner of the Olympic gold in the 100m breaststroke where he set world records in the semi-final and final. He took nearly a second off his own previous mark in the course of the Games
Peter Prevc (Slovenia – Ski Jumping) – set an all-time record for the sport of 15 wins in the World Cup season. This was also a record average points score for the season. He won the Four Hills event and took the ski flying title.
Ihar Boki (Belarus – Para Swimming) – six gold medals and three world records at the Paralympics.
Long Qingquan (China – Weightlifting) – won the Olympic title and broke the world record which had stood for 16 years by a large 3kg margin.
Kianoush Rostami (Iran – Weightlifting) – He won the gold medal in the 85 kg weight class at the 2016 Summer Olympics by tying an Olympic record with a 217 kg clean and jerk and setting a world record total with 396 kg. Earlier in 2016 in while competing at the Fajr Cup, in Tehran, Iran he broke the Clean and jerk world record for his weight division, lifting 220 kg. Kianoush also broke the world record for his total, with 395 kg.
To narrow things down my thoughts were:
Curry would have been a major contender and the Warriors would have won team of the year if they hadn’t blown a 3-1 series lead in the NBA final. As it was Curry couldn’t take his team over the line and this counts against him. Dukurs matched but didn’t better previous years. Ronaldo had great results with his teams but individually he has had better seasons.
Peaty’s was the more eyecatching performance at the Olympics of the swimmers on my shortlist but I feel he needs to win more events to take my award. Boki emulated his gold medal tally from last year’s world championships and with three records has to be a contender again. The weightlifters probably need to have been at the top for longer because of the limited number of competitions they had in 2016.
So my top five are Ihar Boki, Michael Jung, Wayde Van Niekerk, Martin Fourcade and Peter Prevc.
My criteria for this award are usually that the person I choose has made history in the year concerned either by their achievements in the year or where competition is limited over a period of years.
Jung produced one of the greatest seasons of eventing ever seen over 2015/16 but again there were a limited number of competitions for him. Boki had another great year but also did as well in 2015. The sportsmen who had the most competitions in either 2015/16 winter seasons or 2016 summer seasons were Van Niekerk, Fourcade and Prevc. Van Niekerk showed great versatility over three distances and his performance in the 400m in Rio was sensational. Fourcade produced arguably the greatest season of biathlon ever. He won ten races in the World Cup, matching his previous best for a season, but unlike that year he had a great world championships as well, taking three of the four individual titles. Prevc had the greatest world cup in the history of ski jumping but there were no World Championships in which to prove himself.
To choose between these top three I have to ask myself whether Van Niekerk had the best season ever produced at his events and I have to say probably not. I think that Fourcade doing so well at the world championships and the world cup shifts the balance in his favour over Prevc. Another factor in his favour is that he has been outstanding for longer and in which he has become the first man to win the World Cup for five consecutive years. These things just give him the edge for me. I would like to spread the award more to other countries but for the third time in four years the French have produced an outstanding sportsman and so my choice as World Sportsman of the Year for 2016 is Martin Fourcade.
2015 Novak Djokovic (Serbia – Tennis): Runners-up Ma Long (China – Table Tennis) , Ihar Boki (Belarus – Para Swimming)
2014 Renaud Lavillenie (France – Athletics): Runners-up Sebastian Brendel (Germany – Canoeing), Giles Scott (England – Sailing)
2013 – Teddy Riner (France-Judo) won a 6th world title and unbeaten since 2010:Runners-Up: Peyton Manning (USA – American Football), Sun Yang (China – Swimming)
2012 – Lionel Messi (Argentina -Football) – 91 goals in the year: Runners up: David Rudisha (Kenya – Athletics), Ilya Ilyin (Kazakhstan – Weightlifting) , Sun Yang (China – Swimming), Sergei Martynov (Belarus – Shooting)